Watching short documentaries about too many realities of our world as well as our own psychological realities has been a hobby of mine since time immemorial. From cryptozoology to urban legend-like coverups, I love them all as long as they're within the scope of my powers of comprehension.
Since I've barricaded myself inside my new room (which is bigger, better, more airy) with all the amenities except for a bathroom, I can virtually hibernate and not be seen around town for days, only going out for my yoga and badminton. And I have lots of time on my hands to pore through these short television documentaries.
Suicide has social stigma imprinted all over it, across all cultures and religions. I've talked about it several times the past few years since I started my blog based on personal views. I've never been close with someone who has done it but I do know people who have committed it and succeeded unfortunately. I've also always taken a stance where I'm against it. I don't condone it and I highly pity the people who have had to resort to this form of desertion of their own realities.
However a certain segment in the documentary program which tackled suicide as a cultural reality in a certain tribal community here in the Philippines has led me NOT TO rethink my own views but to somehow respect the reality that somehow suicide MAY also be respectable as long as it does not desecrate other people's beliefs by being regulated as a practice to be upheld by religious or cultural necessity and obligation.
People of the Kulbi tribe in a certain municipality in Rizal, Palawan in the Philippines have mixed beliefs about the concept of suicide but mostly coalescing into a general premise that it may be natural and even acceptable as long as the reasons for doing so are within the confines of honor and respectability. This is what I could derive from watching the documentary at least.
But after reading several sources and re-watching the program the people being interviewed seemed stable and well-grounded, they enjoyed what life in general has to offer and the community values are not grounded on despair and depression. There are even people who are puzzled about existence of suicide in their culture. There must be an individuality to the commitment of self-destruction and a passivity of behavior among the people who are witnesses to this phenomena for it to be an anomaly and yet a regular occurrence in their own community. Belief in the forces of the inevitability of one's own "destiny", and in the ABSENCE of an "afterlife" the lack of control over the forces of human emotions, a low threshold towards the pain of suffering a sickness and old age as well as filial conflicts within the tight fabric of relatives are among the major factors contributing to the suicidal tendencies among the affected members of the Kulbi people.
One example which has several issues factoring into the commitment of suicide involves one recent incident in their town. A whole family killed themselves after one of their own children suffered death after a recent natural disaster (flooding I believe). We WOULD attribute this sort of bizarre behavior to depression under our own normal, "trapped," suburban or urban circumstances but to them it seems that missing one of their kin, filial devotion extending up to the other life, the overwhelming love for one of their own and the attachment to them was enough reason for the easy way out.
Another common scenario for incidences of suicide especially among the young men in the tribe is failure to meet the expectations in gender-related connections. Some men feel that they are financially incapable of paying the dowry for an object of their affection or embarrassment from impregnating a woman without the means for economic support for the "future family" they might put into a whole life of jeopardy. This in my opinion is NOT THAT socially unacceptable because it places in high regard honor their male-hood and the role they play in society. The social role of father and provider for the men in their tribe is a powerful tool for them to maintain honor and name so that it becomes a major issue especially if they cannot fulfill this role to the best of their ability. It must take so much courage and deep self-searching to eradicate one's own existence because one cannot fulfill the responsibility of a man as defined by their society!
The most common form of voluntary life-taking has always been hanging oneself with a rope. But among the younger generation of the Kulbi people the drinking of extremely saturated concoctions of a type of coconut-based alcohol as well as a native pesticide has become common forms of self-destruction. Some even become exhibitionistic in such a manner where right before dying they parade in front of their families in a display of courage or bravado I presume.
The acceptability of certain strange practices is defined by a society's beliefs, culture and tradition. I myself am guilty of a little bit of imposition because I have already used the word "STRANGE" when it is up to the concerned people to define what is bizarre to them or not. The interjection of new teachings and ideas that are totally different to the original beliefs of the tribe will only result in something futile and even result in internal conflicts among the concerned. In the documentary, a woman tried to educate the Kulbi people with her Christian and Western beliefs because she believed that she could alter their socially unacceptable suicidal practices. But in my opinion this will only convolute the people's otherwise straight and rigid existence. Who is she to dictate what is socially displeasing to these people? They've held onto their ideas for hundreds of years and have otherwise lived a joyous and undisturbed existence despite the high rates of suicide in their communities. Why should she try muddle the clarity and purity of their existence by introducing her twisted Christian beliefs?
In the end, taboo or not, respect should be accorded where it is due. The values of people who do not conform to our social definition of civilization should be upheld ESPECIALLY if they do not force their own beliefs on us. Considering that they are a minority, there is no reason to fear the widespread influence of their practices be they arcane or morbid or not. All societies be they primitive or modern need an outlet for their peoples' frustrations, psychological conflicts and pent-up creativities. If suicide is the Kulbi people's form of adjusting to the chaos of life's vagaries who are we to condemn this? The more perverse among us practice self-infliction of pain, drinking piss and scat as forms of sexual gratification, murdering people and animals as physical and psychological exerise!!!! So let's stop taking the moral high ground and broaden our scope of accepting the arcane and the seemingly socially unacceptable.....