I was moved by the cover story in the Weekend Australian magazine about suicide, which reported calls from a number of people for society to talk more about suicide, to bring it into the open in the hope of preventing it. It sounded like a good idea.
But then today I read a response on the ABC Drum saying this is the worst possible response. Kerri Sackville writes that it was the publicity around newsreader Charmain Dragun’s suicide that gave Kerri’s sister ‘permission’ to kill herself. Kerri writes of the phenomenon of ‘copycat’ suicides. She says that unlike car crashes, which no-one wants to be in and thus can be advertised against, suicide is attractive to people with suicidal thoughts.
If she is right, how silent should we be? And how does suicide shed its sense of shame and isolation for the survivors if we are silent?
For the church, it seems to me that churches where people are not involved in each other’s lives, churches where people are familiar strangers, have little hope of saving people from suicide.