Playing Russian Roulette

VANESSA SMEETS

“Anyone who cannot cope with life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little despair over his fate…but with his other hand he can jot down what he sees among the ruins, for he sees different and more things than the others; after all, he is dead in his own lifetime and the real survivor.” – Franz Kafka

Ever gambled with the idea of suicide? It’s like playing Russian Roulette: the one idea glares at you from the inside of a barrel, ready to be cocked at any second.
To be or not to be: that is the haunting question… It’s a fact that humans all react differently to stress: some freak out, some cry, some get angry and some get increasingly depressed. With the challenges of varsity-life forever increasing – keeping up your good marks, getting your assignments done on time, balancing one’s social life and academic life, fitting in with the crowd and dealing with the making and breaking of intimate relationships, it’s no wonder that suicide is on the increase amongst students.

suicide note

LAST WORDS: Only 15% of people who've committed suicide leave suicide notes. PIC: Online

Facts about suicide:

  • Three times as many men kill themselves as women.
  • Three times as many women as men attempt to kill themselves but do not die.
  • Suicide is especially frequent amongst psychiatrists, physicians, lawyers and psychologists.
  • No other kind of death leaves friends and family with such long-lasting feelings of distress, shame, guilt, puzzlement and disturbance.
  • Men usually choose to hang or shoot themselves. Women are more likely to use sleeping pills.
  • Suicide ranks second as cause of death amongst varsity students, after car accidents.
  • Many more students commit suicide than their peers who do not attend class.
  • Hungary and Japan have the highest rates of suicide in the world.

According to Mintz (1968), motivations for suicide may vary: aggression turned inward, efforts to force love from others, efforts to make amends for past mistakes, sexual attraction to members of one’s own sex, the desire for re-incarnation, the desire to rejoin a loved one, the desire to escape from stress, deformity, pain, or emotional vacuum.

Freud agreed with Mintz’s theory on “aggression turned inward” as the most common cause of suicide. He claims:

“When a person loses someone whom he or she ambivalently loved and hated, and introjects that person, aggression is directed inward. If these feelings are strong and murderous enough, the person will commit suicide.”

However, many other scholars have disagreed with Freud, claiming that the majority of suicide notes express affection and gratitude, not hostility. Yet, only 15% of people (statistic of the United States) leave suicide notes.

Kurt Cobain

27 Curse: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain are just a few musical artists who committed suicide around the age of 27. PIC: Online

According to Durkheim (1897), there are three types of suicide:

Egoistic suicide: when a person has too few ties to society and the community. These people feel alienated from others and cannot function adaptively as social beings.
Altruistic suicide: the opposite of above, is a response to societal demands, where self-sacrifice is seen as an honourable act amongst certain cultures. Examples include freedom fighters in the old South Africa, the hara-kiri of the Japanese and modern-day suicide bombers.
Anomic suicide: when there is a sudden change in someone’s personal relations. public humiliation.
During the 1970s, various tests were done around the world to see how suicide could be controlled. It was found that depression was not as much a cause as hopelessness for one to take his/ her own life. Many genuinely suicidal people believed that nothing would get better in their lives at that present time. Suicidal people were also found to be haunted by a sense of physical disequilibrium, in that they couldn’t control things around them. Such people also had problems in challenging their energy, were more rigid in their approach to problems and less flexible in their thinking.

“Like one who keeps afloat on a shipwreck by climbing to the top of a mast that is already crumbling… from there he has a chance to give a signal leading to his rescue.” – Walter Benjamin (1931)

brain depression

PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE: A lack of Serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved with 'happy feelings') may cause one to feel depressed and suicidal. PIC: Courtesy Medical Look (online)

How to get rid of suicidal thoughts:

  • Stay in contact with your friends and family. Tell them what you are feeling: a problem shared is a problem halved.
  • Avoid being alone at all costs.
  • Keep active – exercise releases endorphins which make one feel happy.
  • Keep busy – watch comedies on TV, listen to uplifting music, go out with friends.
  • Genuinely believe you are strong enough – that this too shall pass.
  • Avoid negative or pessimistic people in your turmoil – they only pull you down.
  • Appreciate and reward yourself by participating in new social groups, charity work or team sport.
  • Find a sense of belonging by participating in a religious group who practises your needs and beliefs.
  • Join the gym with a reliable friend – this will motivate you to go.
  • Contact your campus psychologist (normally free) to talk to if no one else is available.

Important telephone numbers (in South Africa):

The Depression and Anxiety Support Group: (011) 783 1474
FAMSA (for trauma debriefing): (011) 788 4784/5 or (012) 460 0733

Sources:

Davidson, G.C. & Neale, J.M. 1982. Abnormal Psychology: an experimental clinical approach. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Art of Sexting

VANESSA SMEETS

Some do it while in the bath, others at their office desks or as they rush to the bathroom. Some smile or giggle nervously when preoccupied. Others turn blood red and some are so good at it, they manage to hide their sweaty palms.

The art of sexting is a silent phenomenon. It involves gentle fingertips playing on the keyboard of your cellphone or computer. Even the shortest word like “now” has power. Some would argue it’s more difficult than the real act of lovemaking, as it involves eloquence and confidence for hours at a time. You have to be prepared to go “all the way” by exploring your most personal needs and desires…

sexting condom

SAFE SEX: Is sexting so much safer than real sex? Some will argue the risks are so much longer-lasting... PIC: Online

At first, it encompasses the art of seduction beyond erotic novels. You have to fish for someone willing to play with. Your protagonist then has to be willing to frolic in the ocean of persuasion with you, floating in euphoria.

Some see it as a chess game in the art of seduction and release.

You have to be willing to expose your most vulnerable assets: your willing heart and craving mind. At the same time, you must seem completely detached to keep him/her interested.

sexting cartoonOr, like the stalking game, your prey has to be willing to escape just a little longer, as you come up with a different approach of attack.

This attack has to be so subtle and innocent that, at first, he/she doesn’t even realise they are under your enchantment. When he/she does, they must be willing to want and explore more.

As you start formulating delicious words, Kylie’s Minogue “All the lovers” starts to play on the radio:

I’m on fire, fire, fire. If love is really good, you want more.

Your fingers are ready to flow with your mind’s unholiest desires. Forget about “What are you wearing?” Too clichéd. Try the next best thing on the menu: “Do you have space for dessert?” as he/she returns from lunch.If they’re in a meeting, try “I promise I wont distract you. You can find me under the desk.” A winking face, an ellipsis or a licking face often follows this. The fun lies in them deciphering their own intentions through your messages.

Their response is often the “make or break” of your potential relationship. A boring person will respond “Oh, that’s hot.” The one with potential will not respond straight away, but may ask you in a few minutes: “If you’re still there, it’s worth it. Tell me more…”

It’s exhilarating at first. You feel rejuvenated by your erotic skills. You have managed to battle your low self-esteem by exuding online confidence. However, there are limits. Never give more than you originally intended.

sexting Hudgens

SEXY STARS: Vanessa Hudgens was criticized when her naughty pictures to ex-beau Zac Effron were found on the Internet. Sexting also led to breaking up the marriages of Tony Parker, Tiger Woods and, almost, David Beckham. PIC: Online

Beyond the heat and excitement, there is a dark side to sexting…

According to a survey by Cosmo.girl in 2008, 20% of teens (13-19) and 33% of young adults (20-26) have sent nude or semi-nude photographs of themselves. Sexy images often land up on the Internet after a heated dispute. Be prepared to gamble with your dignity and reputation.

As you keep these not so appealing facts in mind, go ahead and sing along the concluding words to Kylie’s song in front of the mirror:

All the lovers that have gone before, they don’t compare to you…

As your content heart beats to the music, it’s clear you don’t need to find your potential reflection in that ocean of persuasion after all. For, after all that hot conversation and attraction you have mastered, how can that lover ever compare to you?

TURN ONs:

“Hi, are you still awake? I wanna explore some of your dreams…”
“Are you wearing what I think you are? I’m only wearing that fragrance you love.”
“I need to meet you right now. Bring any hot thought.”
“What’s your wildest fantasy? I wanna see if it matches mine…”
“I can’t stop thinking about the way you tasted earlier.”
“Don’t miss me yet. I’ve got so much more on the menu.”
“I need to touch you slightly longer next time.”
“I’m not quite sure what made you so ‘happy’ last time. Care to remind me?”
“I miss your fingers dancing on my tummy.”
“Next time, just close your eyes and enjoy.”

sexting iPhone

iSeeYOU: Is it really for his/ her eyes only... Mmmm..... PIC: Online