Saturday morning, I awoke to the news of GRL singer, Simone Battle, 25, dying from suicide. Posts of her character, her talent and her beauty were all over social media. I was reluctant to write about it because there was news that the cause of her death was not confirmed as a suicide. In a time where misinformation runs rampant and in abundance, I held off until now.
I did not know Battle was a singer (thought she was only a model), I saw just her charming beauty being celebrated on social media. Doing further research about her and the work she left behind, only prompted a variation of the question, why? Why would she take her life? Why didn’t she get help? Why didn’t anyone notice?…As we know, the answer to these questions aren’t as easy as the questions themselves.
Most people think it’s just the act of killing oneself, but there is so much more to it. Here it is from a sociological lens (there are other causes such as substance abuse and pre-existing mental illnesses). In 1897, French sociologist, Emile Durkheim published a pioneering study on suicide aptly titled, Le Suicide. He broke suicide down into four categories:
Anomic: Result of weak or contradictory influence that weaken social bonds or feeling disillusioned and /or not fitting into society
Fatalistic: Result of overregulated unrewarded lives with bleak futures with the only way to escape is by suicide
Altruistic: Result of when the bonds are too strong and believe they are a burden on society and believe their deaths would actually benefit society
Egoistic: Result of isolation from social groups, lack integration and a sense of purpose
Then there is the contagion phenomenon in which a person who is already vulnerable to suicide, hears a news story of someone committing suicide and follows through with the act. The most notable is that of Marilyn Monroe, in which the national suicide rate temporarily increased 12 percent after her death. In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, Gladwell illustrates, “the people who die in highly publicized suicides — whose deaths give others ‘permission’ to die — serve as the Tipping Points in suicide epidemics.” However, in a New York Times article by Margot Sanger Katz, how the information of a persons suicide is disseminated can decrease the number of suicides, such is the case of Nirvana’s front man, Kurt Cobain. The media had guidelines “to avoid emphasizing or glamorizing suicide, or to make it seem like a simple or inevitable solution for people who are at risk.” Messages about mental health treatment and informing people about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255, were mentioned in the news coverage. Months after Cobain’s death suicide prevention calls increased while suicide decreased in Seattle.
The CDC has reported that suicide has surpassed the death of car accidents. Suicide rates increase during times of financial stress and economic setbacks. Adolescents of this generation have a higher suicide rate than its cohorts and noted bullying as a major cause. There is also an increase in overdose on prescription pills and hanging. Gladwell used David Phillips, a sociologist at the University of California at San Diego, research on suicide to elaborate “thing about this permission-giving, though, is how extraordinarily specific it is…[there is] a clear pattern.” Meaning, there is correlation between the way suicide is committed in the news and the ones that follow. I can’t help but notice that Battle and Robin Williams had the same cause of death and it has been reported she has financial woes.
It wouldn’t be fair for me to put Battle in a mentioned category not knowing her entire story–so I won’t. However, I hope that people not judge those who take their lives. It’s easy to finger point and have an opinion and say who is going where because of what they did, but how about asking someone how their day is and actually listen to what they have to say, or tell someone you care about them.
RIP Simone Battle
RIP Robin Williams
RIP Karyn Washington
RIP Capital Steez
Be safe. Be kind.