Suicide and the ‘Sacred’

Even if you aren’t a vet returning from service, there is a powerful idea here that if we serve and live in an other-regarding way, in a way in which we are not the center of our own universe, we can truly deal with feelings of lonliness in a healthy way way before they conquer us.

Social Health

Suicide and the sacred
“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” Viktor Frankl

One aspect of suicidal desire comes from the feeling of loneliness and isolation resulting from a lack communal belonging. Here I demonstrate how the concept of ‘the sacred’ helps us understand communal belonging, particularly in relation to the meaning of service. I apply this concept to veterans in transition to civilian life, showing how the loss of meaning and purpose can result from losing a tight-knit community centered on the sacred ideal of service.

In the book Suicide, Durkheim describes the function of the ‘sacred’ as an ideal that binds individuals together into moral communities; he states, “it’s object is to raise man above himself and to make him lead a life superior to that which he would lead, if he followed only his own individual whims.”

Moral communities provide individuals with…

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