It was just yesterday morning when representatives of eight major religions in Singapore gathered together to recite prayers of “blessing” on the Bedok Reservoir, in which a recent spate of suicides occurred. In fact, an hour before the religious gathering, another body was found in its waters.
Although the suicide toll in so brief a period of time at one specific venue is cause for concern for Singapore society, it should not be the reason to indulge in superstition – suicides are caused by factors both psychological or mental as well as societal or cultural – and the predominance of one venue over others is nothing more than a combination of natural factors such as coincidence, residential demographics and what my wife recently remarked – if one commits suicide in Bedok Reservoir, public visibility is 100 per cent guaranteed.
To require a gathering of religious leaders to “bless” the reservoir is tantamount to resorting to superstition as a solution to the problem. Suicides are NOT caused by “evil spirits” or some “evil aura” in any particular place – there is no need to invoke the gods. It reveals much more about the state of society in which we live, the trivialities of chasing after the wind, the silliness of men and women to lust after power, wealth and the vanity of the human condition. It simply reveals the futily of pursuing things that do not matter.
A culture of pride and pollyanna-ish falsehoods is what Singapore society is – that we are all born to succeed and win in life, that we can all make it big and rich and prosperous if we only try our darn best. Now – I am not trying to advocate pessimism, just a big reality check. Life is NOT fair, and that is a FACT. Although education can level out the playing field, society cannot and will not function if everyone is a “winner”, whatever that means. Values like success, wealth and victory are all relative categories, they do not exist in a vacuum. If there is success, there is ALSO failure. If someone wins, it means there is someone who loses. If one is rich, it means there are many others who are less rich than him/her. It becomes a misnomer, a non-sensical statement to say that “everyone is born to succeed”.
I know people like Adam Khoo would be shaking their heads now. Of course, otherwise motivational NLP charlatans like him would have no business. It is good to have a positive mindset, to cultivate a good working attitude, etc – but one has to be sober enough to be aware that NOT everyone can reach the stars just by trying his/her best. That IS life. It is only when we can accept our lot in life do we become fulfilled in our own selves and our own stations.
Besides, suicides are part of the human condition. They are morbid for the soul, yes, but nature is impartial and apathetic. It just is.
And thus, there is absolutely NO USE to utter empty words to the air, as though some deity or deities would reach down and stir the waters of the reservoir a bit, getting rid of the spirits of death that dwell therein.
DO SOMETHING about it!! Create awareness for psychiatry and psychological medicine. Create awareness of depression. Create awareness of certain charities and welfare organisations. Cultivate a society that is empathic to pain and suffering, tuned in to compassion and healing, instead of selfish ambition and more economic nonsense. So what if Singapore is “prospering” economically – as China seems to be currently doing – when many human beings are still suffering and unwanted?
Value our fellow human beings. They are all we have, for above us…
is only sky.