AIDS as a means to an end?

One really surprising issue we didn’t discuss three classes ago was when Solomon recalled trying to contract AIDS as a reason to commit suicide which he believed to be less painful for his family. This astounded me on multiple levels. 1) He considered his family and the repercussions of his act. I know a lot of suicide attempts have extensive planning behind them but suicide is often a selfish act and his thoughts were to his family as well as himself. Also, he was able to think of his suicide from his family’s point of view, not a thought many who are suicidal think about. 2) He waited to contract AIDS to commit suicide. I think this might have been a “flaw” in his plan because of the time it takes to contract and develop AIDS. In time many realize with regret that they don’t want to die. 3) He wanted to find a “valid excuse” for suicide.

All of these reasons seems like such a well thought out plan that usually doesn’t occur when one is planning suicide. I was curious to see how many other people have thought about using AIDS to commit suicide (which I think is a horrible way to end your life). I found a letter to an editor describing a woman’s attempt to contract AIDS to commit suicide. I think this plan for suicide is indirect and inevitably painful. Also, I question the success rate of those who try to contract AIDS as a way of suicide. Due to the fact that AIDS takes time to be contracted and develop (why do those who want AIDS fail to contract it? Ironic) then putting a halt to your plans until an unsure thing like this doesn’t make for a fool-proof plan for a “successful” suicide. Solomon changed his mind as well as the woman in this letter.

Contracting Aids to Commit Suicide

Another point the article brought up was group meetings for people suffering from depression. I wondered about how forums worked for individuals. Group therapy has been proven to aid in depression symptoms as it enables those who are depressed not to feel alone. I think that this is an important way for people who suffer from depression to connect with people who can understand and relate to each others’ situations. I found this website (http://www.survivingdepression.net/living/grouptherapy.html) because at first I was skeptical about depressed people talking to more depressed people. I thought it might make them feel worse and that there is no getting better, no hope. Instead group therapy is beneficial. One of the sources of depression is a feeling of isolation and being misunderstood and this group therapy relieves those feelings. Some are reluctant to attend these meetings but in the long run I think it is a method of relieving some of the feelings of milder depression.

I really enjoyed reading Solomon’s article. I think it’s important for those who study and work with depressed individuals to really have an open mind and try to understand what kind of pain they are feeling.

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5 thoughts on “AIDS as a means to an end?

  1. I think it is certainly interesting that he felt as though he needed a ‘valid’ excuse to commit suicide. However, I think that it is all the more interesting because suicide is thought to be ‘selfish’. I think what he was trying to do was the opposite of selfish-he was trying to give some sort of understanding to his family that was tangible to them (in this case, teh contraction of AIDS).

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  2. I was also interested in the fact that he used AIDS to commit suicide, but what made it so powerful to me was that it really drove home the message of how unprotected sex is so unsafe. I mean we have all learned this fact in school, but there is still the “it could never happen to me” mentality. I know that this is kinda off topic but I really do think that a story like this really says practice safe sex! Possible sex ed topic in high school?

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  3. Jessie, I am glad that you brought up this whole dilemma because I think it would have easily gone under the radar. When I read Solomon’s account of how he tried to contract AIDS to commit suicide, I was flabbergasted. My notion of suicide has always been that it is a swift, if not hurried, action, in which an individual needs the time, energy, and strength to follow through on. However, Solomon’s decision to risk himself physically, mentally, and emotionally, reveals just how much he would go through to avoid hurting his loved ones. Why couldn’t that love be enough to prevent him from suicide?

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  4. I think that Lia broaches a really interesting idea: why can’t that love be enough to prevent him from suicide? A common theme in individuals affected by suicide is that they isolate and distance themselves from their loved ones; however, it appears as though this victim of depression is aware of their social situation enough to consider their family, yet not seek out the appropriate help. As I’m sure many of you know, there are many drugs that regulate chemical concentration and stability – such as SSRIs – as well as behavioral group therapy techniques that aim (and have succeeded) to help suicidal individuals. If this patient is so concerned with hurting their family with the truth, why not be honest and seek the help one deserves?

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  5. Jessie, I think you were right on with the loneliness concept of support groups- rather than weigh each other down, they feel they aren’t alone and are reassured by the fact that though they may not be able to explain their problems to people who aren’t depressed, someone understands. Solomon talked about how depression leads to loneliness (you can’t get out of bed/out of the house to see anyone) and how loneliness leads to depression- vicious cycle! Support groups are a great idea.

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