A society where death is preferable
We often use death in hyperbole. Think of the expressions: “I am dying of hunger,” “I am dying of pain” or “I am so tired I could die.” But death is no joke. Many people actually die from hunger, sickness or struggle. To them, living life may be more painful than death itself.
A few days ago, I read that the body of a man in his 50s was found in a boiler room of a multi-unit house in Busan. He took his own life six years ago, and the body had decomposed, leaving only bones. Various bills and reminders were piled up in front of his unit, and the calendar in his bedroom stopped at November 2006.
A similar discovery was made just a week before. A court officer opened the door of an apartment in order to serve an eviction notice at the request of the landlord and found the body of a woman in her 30s who committed suicide eight months ago. She had run away from home 15 years ago and lived alone without ever pursuing a career. She did not talk to her family and she was forgotten, both in life and death, due to the indifference of the people around her.
I searched for the term “suicide” in Naver’s Q&A section and discovered posts saying “I want to kill myself” being uploaded in real time. Each poster had a different reason: grades, debt a broken heart. Others users are often startled and post responses aimed at saving a life. Each post gets more than 10 responses.
When I examined the answers, I found that the responses chosen by the original posters all have something in common. They are not preachy or academic in tone. Instead, they are ordinary answers that begin with, “I have also considered suicide.”
Those who post about killing themselves want someone to pay attention to their words. Maybe they are lonely.
“Worse than being a bored woman, even more pathetic is to be a sad woman,” Marie Laurencin wrote in the poem “Le Calmant.” “Worse than being dead, even more pathetic is being a forgotten woman.” Being forgotten is more pathetic than being dumped, being sick or being dead.
A society of no connection is one in which all relationships with neighbors, family members, relatives and friends are severed. Korean society may be heading there soon. People are choosing death over being forgotten.
If their problem is “aloneness,” the solution is the “attention from us all.” Maybe the government should consider a policy to create a community for those who are struggling and have no one to turn to for help.
*The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Eom Eul-soon