Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why Do We Stigmatize Suicide, But Make Celebrity Out of Mass-murder?

Why do we stigmatize suicide and quietly brush it under the rug, but make instant-celebrity out of those who commit serial killings and mass killings?

The following is an attempt to provide one possible perspective.

Mass killings and serial killings are an attack on our public identities--specifically, our public identity's sense of safety. But our public identity is constantly bombarded with similar attacks. "You're not sexy enough, not successful enough." And even for those that have found success, one can always aspire for more. That's the healthy thing to do!

Our public identities are so used to the deluge of experiences and prescriptions waiting to be completed, that it is not too disconcerting for us to add one more worry to our check-lists.

But suicide is an attack on our private identities.

THAT, we cannot tolerate. In fact, embedded within our exaltation of competitive markets as the crowning achievement of civilization is the assumption that, privately, we are all imperfect and depraved. The trick of competition is that we are to never make our imperfection public. To do so is to throw away our marketability, i.e. our market-ability--our ability to compete and survive in the market.

Suicide, the ultimate public statement of the vulnerability of our private selves, is an outright challenge to this dogma. Vulnerability is the negation of competition, and so public vulnerability is strictly forbidden in a competitive marketplace.

In the words of Andrew Harvey, "The authentic rebel of love would have to let himself be penetrated and broken open by love. This would be a devastating experience—devastating to the tidy brutalities of the false [public] self."

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