This week is suicide prevention week. This is an important week because suicide is a serious issue in modern life. As long time readers know, suicide is something I am intimately familiar with. Not because I considered it myself but because I have lost friends to it and I have grown up under the threat (and attempt) of it. I am ambivalent about suicide. I understand the urge and reasoning. I understand the desire for the pain, or loneliness, or all other crippling emotions to end. Yet, on the other hand, suicide forces others to carry that burden for you. And the constant threat of suicide is a yoke upon the necks of loved ones. For me, it was a yoke that nearly broke me.

Don't commit suicide. If you will listen to me on anything, if you are contemplating suicide, don't do it. Reach out. Reach out to loved ones, reach out to professionals, reach out to friends or trusted third parties. Depression lies and suicide is not the answer. Life has a lot to offer--you might not see it right now, or feel it right now, but it does. I have seen many suffer through the deepest, darkest, valleys in their lives. not commiting suicide even though they really, really wanted to, and realizing after all that time that life gets better. That it's worth it. So reach out, okay?

Personal (and very conflicted) feelings aside, Hellenismos, in general, does not condemn it. I find that comforting. In general, suicide was an accepted form of death and it even became an accepted form of capital punishment. Athenian philosopher Socrates, for example, was condemned to death for 'refusing to recognize the Gods recognized by the state' and for 'corrupting the youth.' He died by drinking down a cup of poison hemlock.

In Hellenic myth, suicide has different causes for males than for females. Males often take their own lives out of shame, fear of disgrace, self-sacrifice, grief or the loss of honor. Women kill themselves mostly out of grief over the death of a male child or husband, out of shame or through self-sacrifice although their self-sacrifice is often for different reasons and by different means than that of males. I have written a lot more about suicide in mythology, which you can find here.

Stepping away from mythology, suicide became a more frowned-upon practice as time went by. Pythagoras and Aristotle, for example, were against the practice. Pythagoras believed there were only a finite number of souls so suicide upset the balance. Aristotle was against suicide because he felt that the community suffered a loss. A lot later, with the arrival of the Christians, suicide became an act of the Devil.

Hellenists have not reached a consensus about condoning or not condoning suicide yet. We might, in the future, but for now our societies, our personal experiences and our own (political) preferences influence our views more than our Reconstructionistic practices.

Some may call suicide hubris. I can see where this idea comes from. I used to agree with this but I'm not so sure now.  The idea was that you have taken yourself from the Olympians, taking the decission of your death out of Their hands. But the Gods don't always judge over the time of our deaths. And who am I to say that suicide was not a choice the Gods made for this person? And who am I to pass judgement anyway?

I feel Hades would welcome the soul of someone who has committed suicide. I feel this very, very strongly. I don't think He would judge a person at all on committing suicide. That having been said, please read the part of this post about not committing suicide again. Once you're dead, you're dead and although the Underworld isn't that horrible a place, no one should wish to leave the sunlight before their time, no matter how hard life can get.

In the spirit of suicide prevention week, take look at how open you are for being talked to about suicide. Take a loot at your friends and family and see if anyone needs help. Ask if they need help. Suicide can be prevented, if those around the person are willing to intervene. So be willing, please. We're all special. We're all valuable. And we should all stay here as long as wel can, to live life, to enjoy the good things, to make an impact... and to honor the Theoi.