Feature Article on Suicide and Shakespeare

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“TO BE OR NOT TO BE…? That is the question.

Each year 10 to 20 million people all over the world attempt to take their own life. Generations of our future children are rapidly disappearing with the growing rate of suicide and depression increasing. We can stop this with the help of more people acknowledging suicide and with the government taking action One potential cause of suicide in young people is bullying, whether cyber or in real life. A 15-year-old boy Lennon Baldwin committed suicide on the 2nd of April in his hometown of Morris Township, New Jersey. The teen’s mother found Lennon, who had hung himself, in his family home on the Wednesday afternoon. He took his life after being cyber bullied by kids at his high school. The World Health Organization estimates that it is the 13th leading cause of deaths worldwide and It is the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35. It started with the Internet. While this technology held out the promise of a new era for interconnectedness, information sharing and education, it also came with a dark underbelly. The social web sites created have a useful side for information but it also is a breeding ground for teens to show their hatred for others. Cyber bullying is when a teen or child is harassed, tormented, threatened humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise

targeted by another teen or child by using the internet, mobile phones or other types of technology. In the Tuggerah Lakes area On the NSW central coast, comments on a social networking site led to a Year 8 female being assaulted by another Year 8 girl. One of the students, who sustained swelling to her forehead and complained of feeling dizzy and nauseous, was taken to hospital. The other girl injured her hand. Young people in today’s society, as they hide behind a computer, feel that they can abuse or torment others via the Internet, hurt other people’s feeling with abusive comments, with no consequences. Although in William Shakespeare’s era the Internet was not around, relationships and emotional themes in today’s society and those in William Shakespeare’s are very much the same. Suicide, depression and bullying are evident in the play Hamlet, and suicide is seen as a means of coping with everyday life. In Hamlet, there are scenes in the play where suicide or death is considered by the characters of Hamlet and Ophelia. In the play Hamlet contemplates death in his “to be, or not to be” soliloquy and then again as he says “O’ that this to solid flesh would melt”, Hamlet considers death for himself because of the circumstances he has been faced with. The death of his father and then the sudden marriage of his mother to his uncle king Claudius, Hamlet doesn’t know how to handle these situations so he seeks for a way out which is suicide.

Another issue that is raised in Shakespeare’s play hamlet is bullying it is shown to the character Ophelia who in the end actually commits suicide or so it is represented in the play when queen Gertrude enters and says “But long it could not be till that her garments, heavy with their drink, pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay to muddy death.” Throughout the play Ophelia is the most bullied character, she is also bullied by her father and brother when they tell her she cannot see Hamlet anymore, and then Hamlet verbally abuses her telling her “get thee to a nunnery “ speech and that he does not care for her anymore. Then Ophelia has to handle the death of her father and after going insane Ophelia drowns in the brook and commits suicide. In our current society and as depicted in Hamlet, there are issues for young people surrounding family breakdowns leading to suicide and depression and often the person suffering these symptoms hide what they are feeling from those people around them. Family breakdown in Australian society...
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