Teenage suicide has for a long time been a grave issue, has dominated headlines in the news many a time. From the days of Romeo and Juliet to current times, teens have been involved in quite a number of suicide-related deaths. Teenage suicide occurs as a result of myriad factors that include; rejection, failure, and loss, for example, falling out with a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Most teenagers who are victims of teenage suicide see it as a way out of difficult situations, a safety-net away from the world of rejection and loss. This essay will examine teenage suicide as depicted by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as in today’s society.
Romeo and Juliet are one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays. The play starts as the audience is made privy to the major circumstances surrounding the play that is the distasteful hate between the two families; Romeo’s Montague and Juliet’s Capulet family. Later, Romeo attends a party at the Capulet’s disguised as a masque. In his attendance of the party, Romeo meets Juliet and falls madly in love with her. The love animated by Romeo and Juliet surpasses the feud that exists between their families. At the end of the play, Romeo and Juliet kill themselves, leaving their families to shoulder the loss of their children.
It should, however, be noted that the troubles that lead to Romeo and Juliet killing each other are not solely as a result of their family feuds but, a fault of their own (Peele n. pag.). For instance, Romeo was already frustrated by the loss of his paramour, Rosaline. Additionally, he is already suicidal, as he says “expire the term of a despised life”. Also, when Romeo meets Juliet, his condition escalates from pathological lovesickness to total infatuation (Peele n. pag.). Juliet is also undergoing a build-up of frustration prompted by the fact that she is to get married to an older man she is yet to meet.
Further, Romeo and Juliet rush into marriage within 24-hours of their meeting. The couple is secretly wedded by Friar Laurence. This hasty wedding clearly depicts irrationality and immaturity on the part of the couple. Later, Romeo is banished for slaying Tybalt, which makes it difficult for them to progress their relationship as a young couple. When Juliet gets wind of Romeo’s banishment, she gets totally distraught-rather-suicidal as she is going to lose her love, Romeo. Finally, Juliet ends up stabbing herself with a knife and dies while Romeo consumes poison and also dies.
It can clearly be seen that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet arrive after a large series of events have ensued. The events that take place such as Romeo losing Rosaline, the death of Tybalt at the hands of Romeo, the proposal for Juliet to marry a man he hardly knows, as well as the banishment of Romeo serve to elevate the frustration levels in the couple. The high levels of frustration lead to a high propensity towards suicide, which reaches its climax when the couples finally take their lives (Bloom 71).
The case of Romeo and Juliet is not new to modern society where young people are regularly bombarded with challenges in their lives. In fact, the suicide of Romeo and Juliet substantially mirrors the state of current society. Modernity has yielded new challenges in parenting, education, and other facets of life. Young people face myriad o challenges catapulted by social media and changing family structures. Additionally, the pressure placed on youth as a result of the many demands of modern life has added to the likelihood of young people committing suicide.
The influence of social media cannot be discounted when teenage suicide is mentioned. Teenagers are in the adolescence stage where they seek to gain identity from what goes on around them. Social media acts as a platform from where young people learn certain mannerisms that they may eventually adopt. The adoption or non-adoption of certain characteristics may create a state of frustration in young people which then leads to suicidal tendencies and suicide.
Finally, the modern world has embodied a lot of competition that requires young people to be at the good in both academics as well as other realms of life. When a young person is not able to live up to the standards of performance required for modern life, they isolate themselves from their colleagues. This orientation results in self-doubt that in the long run, leads to suicide in youth.
In conclusion, it is explicitly clear that the teenage suicide elucidated by the case of Romeo and Juliet represents the state of affairs in modern times. Young people are continuously bombarded by a flurry of challenges such as the loss of loved ones, peer pressure, and failure in academics among others. These challenges, if unchecked, result in suicidal tendencies and suicide in young people.
Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet. New York: Blooms Literary Criticism, 2010. Internet resource.
Peele, Stanton. “Romeo and Juliets Death Trip: Addictive Love and Teen Suicide.” Psychology Today. 1 Nov. 2008. Web. 4 May 2015. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/200811/romeo-and-juliets-death-trip-addictive-love-and-teen-suicide)
Shakespeare, William, and Howard Horace Furness.romeo and Juliet. Vol. 1. Dutton, 1898.