I think I have sympathies with both of the broad camps that tend to form around this issue. I used to be very firmly on the side of shrugging irritably and thinking, more or less, “get over it,” or “good riddance–leave life to those of us who can take it.” If someone (the present me, for instance) had accused the then-adolescent me of a sad blind spot of compassion, I wouldn’t have been hurt–the complaint would sound, to me then, like complaining that I was twenty feet tall with eighteen arms. Ludicrous and bordering on insanity at worst, inanity at best.
Coming by that attitude was rather simple, I think. It was a small paradox–the combination of suffering, and of lack of experience with suffering, both at once. Suffering–the hellish experiences many kids have in high school hit me early, sixth grade or so. Coming home each schoolday a mask over tears, dreading the next day, the usual mix of that kind of thing. Better than many, worse than others. Lack of experience with it–it takes a certain amount of experience and mindfulness, I think, to really know–not intellectually, but in the guts, where empathy really matters–to develop empathy for the fact that pain thresholds are a very individual thing. Combine those two things, and what results is a rather unsympathetic attitude.
The more complex reasonings/rationalizings of suicide being a horribly selfish thing, a cowardly thing, etcetera ad nauseum, were, as I look back, simply layers painted on top of that simple childish core.
These days, my attitude has changed. I have a quiet sadness about most suicides, but the anger about the matter is gone. I can’t track exactly where that shift occurred, though. Much of the resonant truth I find in the heart of Buddhist narratives has strengthened it, but coming to a more compassionate view on the matter seems to precede any exposure to those teachings if memory’s to be trusted. I think it came down to a matter of realizing, deep down, that pain thresholds varied quite a lot from person to person, and from time to time within a person’s manifestation, and that what suicide boiled down to was a choice–often a very short-sighted and selfish choice, made when the mind is very far from a state of clarity–and declaration that, beyond X point, beyond the bounds of Y qualities, no more. And that was something that didn’t deserve scorn or dismissal, no matter how clouded a judgment such a choice came from–because who was I to sniff dismissively at person troubled (even terminally) by a lack of clarity? But I can sympathize with those who do–I was one of them. I just disagree with them these days.