[Bodymind] The suicide blame game
A mother’s grief is terrible to behold, a reminder there exist many questions that, try as we may, we are unable to answer, questions like: In heaven's name, why? Why now? Why me? Why Liam?
A mother’s grief affects us all. Among other things, it recognizes that in her life, things will never be the same again, and there is no way to assuage this heart searing pain.
It is also awe-full and awesome, in its ferocity and yes, single-mindedness. Who can blame Mrs Madamba for how she feels and how she has responded to this tragedy? A son she had so many dreams for gave up on life and his own dreams, as well as her dreams for him.
(WHAT HAPPENED: Read more articles about the British School)
It makes sense that she would go through all that pain and anger, rail against the gods and look for someone to blame.
Orphan. Widow. Widower.
These are words used to describe someone whose parents or spouses die before them…and yet there seems to be no word for a person who has lost a child.
Maybe the English language is incapable of describing such abject sadness. Maybe it is because it goes against the natural order of things. Children bury their parents, hopefully when they already have families of their own to see them through the pain of saying goodbye to them. But for parents to bury their children? The devastation such an event wreaks is so tragic that perhaps it is too frightening to come up with such a word.
I cannot imagine the grief Mrs Madamba must be going through at the moment. It must be shattering and ….it makes sense, especially in the early stages, to blame others for the tragedy that has happened.
Such attempts are perfectly understandable. Grief has its own rules, its own reasons, and its own timing.
However, sincere as we are in our wish to comfort Mrs Madamba, this does not oblige us to think as she does, to conclude causation as she has.
So many things have been written about Liam’s suicide: why he did it, who should be blamed as perpetrator, who should be held responsible, what payment/restitution, however inadequate, should be made, etc. etc.
And yet who can really give a definitive answer to any of this?
Who can really tell what the truth is behind Liam Madamba’s final act?
I certainly can’t. But I do, however, know where the truth is not.
The truth is not in jumping to the conclusion that it is entirely Ms Mann’s fault. No matter how extreme the scolding was, no matter how realistic her threats sounded, Ms Mann is not entirely to be blamed. Indeed, some would say she is not to be blamed at all.
If we insist on blaming Ms Mann's behavior for Liam’s actions, then we must also blame whoever or whatever inculcated the belief in Liam that he must succeed at every task he was given, that he consider what he was told to do as humiliation.
I have dealt with a few cases of suicide – both attempted and completed – in my clinical experience. I have yet to come across a suicide case where one person or one event alone was responsible for its occurrence. Most behaviors – if not all – are multi causal. I have yet to come across a single human being so simplistic that any of his behaviors can be analyzed as event A caused event B. Even physiological, seemingly “instinctive”responses can be mitigated by other factors.
Suicide is so often misunderstood. While it may be more reassuring to pin the blame solely on Ms Mann, in the cold light of day as opposed to the heat of the moment I hope many can see that blaming one person or one event for what happened is unrealistic. Yes, yes, even if event A seemingly came right before event B.
But that sort of blaming happens all the time. There is a name for this leap in logic: Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin: "after this, therefore because of this") is a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) that states "Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X." It is often shortened to simply post hoc fallacy.
True, Ms Mann's scolding came before Liam’s suicide. But so did Mrs. Madamba’s asking if there was a problem. So did Liam’s answer: he just “needed to take a nap.” So did his making merienda for his siblings and seeing his parents drive off for their other errands.
Am I thus blaming his parents or his siblings since their encounters with him happened after his encounter with Ms Mann? Absolutely not. I just want to emphasize that there are so many other things we don’t know about Liam, and therefore, about his suicide.
Surely, none of us, no matter how close, are privy to all of Liam’s thoughts and feelings before he did what he did.
There is a time for healing and a time for as much objectivity as we can possibly muster. I wholly accept/support/understand that Liam's parents need to heal in their own way and in their own time. But surely we must do what Liam’s parents cannot be expected to so close to what happened: to rise above all the angst and pain this tragedy has brought forth and to be sympathetic and considerate to all concerned.
Just as important is to be fair and objective about the situation, which includes admitting there is no one answer. To do otherwise would be unnecessarily cruel and unjust to Ms Mann, not to mention an insult to Liam’s memory. – Rappler.com