A suicide story too important to hide

By Daniel J. Bauer

News this week of still another shocking student suicide in Taiwan should do more than only sadden and frustrate us. This is a story that parents and educators should jump on and seize for its educative potential. That is not to say we want to beat up our young friends with the discontent that we feel in top-heavy, lecture-down hectoring in our homes or classes. A whopping majority of our university student population will readily agree that this was a tragedy that simply should not have happened. There will be little need to urge students to think, and to think deeply, of the countless negatives here.

We need to help students open up over a period of time, with sensitive and patient, step-by-step prodding, to grasp the truth that life (especially young life) is truly worth living, no matter how intense or awful emotional pain may sometimes become. There is something here as well about the fight that we cannot afford to surrender to. There are points in our lives when like boxers we must slug it out with our doubts, our hurts, our failures, our feelings of shame and abandonment. If giving in means giving up on life, letting our life go, throwing our life away, then giving in is the one thing we must fight not to do. The news appeared in Thursday’s Chinese press. I looked for it in our local English papers, but could not find it. Nor did anything come on Friday, either. Presumably, most who read English newspapers in a Mandarin-speaking land are foreigners from the west. Another Taiwanese death? For what? Is that our concern? But of course it is. Whenever any young person leaves us for no good reason, all of us are the losers. A young Taiwanese woman, jilted in what she once thought was love, leaps to her death from the sixth floor of an apartment complex. A sophomore in a Taichung college, she was, aged 21, reportedly getting acceptable grades, interacting with friends, and appearing to her family over the recent New Year break as a trifle distracted, but otherwise no different than her usual self. Speaking of a loss like this one, we tread with fearful steps indeed to avoid creating even the slightest impression that we are belittling or condemning a young woman who has now left us. Surely this student was only a troubled, not an evil person. She had no intent to hurt those whom she loved or who loved her.