In light of a recent slew of suicides, the government is mulling ordering stores to lock up charcoal to make it less readily available for people who want to commit suicide.
Considering that ingesting pesticide is a common form of suicide in southern Taiwan, the Department of Health said it is also planning on asking pesticide manufacturers to set aside NT$1 for every kilogram of product sold to finance the production of cabinets with locks, again aiming to make it more difficult for people with suicidal tendencies to get their hands on the product.
However, while measures aimed at lowering the number of suicides by making it harder for people to find the means to kill themselves are good, one hopes that government officials won’t be so naive as to think they’ve tackled the problem of a rise in suicides and can now relax.
People who truly wish to end their life could think of alternatives. Is the government going to ask stores to also lock away knives, sleeping pills and all potentially poisonous chemicals and ban high-rise buildings?
Life is precious and outsiders can only imagine the state of despair, pain and hopelessness someone might be experiencing if they feel the only way to deliver themself from the anguish and despair is to end their life.
People commit suicide for many different reasons, ranging from their mental state to relationship problems to job woes, for example, but after a quick look at the state of the nation, it is not hard to grasp why someone who is depressed, especially if they are underprivileged, may feel trapped and hopeless.
The unemployment rate remains high and salary raises remain a distant hope. The government has added to the public’s burden by announcing rises in fuel and electricity prices.
The increase in electricity prices is expected to have a trickle-down effect on virtually all goods and services, so price fluctuations are inevitable and spending will be affected.
Imagine the pressure ordinary people will face to cover increasingly expensive daily necessities, let alone the unemployed and the underprivileged who are already cash-strapped.
The crux in solving the nation’s climbing suicide rate is to tackle the problem at its roots. It calls for beefing up of social welfare, assistance systems and most importantly — government introspection on how to more effectively allot the social resources and emergency relief funds to the right people in a timely manner.
Rather than approaching the issue of suicide with desultory tactics such as locking away charcoal and pesticides, what is truly required of the government is to prevent thoughts of suicide from taking root.
The best way for the government to prevent suicide is to lessen people’s daily stress and pressure. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was quick to harp on the failures of the fomer Democratic Progressive Party in this area when it was in power, but President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration seems to have failed just as abjectly.