Suicide, Media and Conscientious Consciousness: The Role of Education in the Information Age
By: Young Sil Kang
Published: 5/18/2016
Uploaded: 06/06/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2016 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Conscientious Consciousness, Education, Empathy, media, philosophy, Suicide

Description/Abstract: This thesis examined the role of traditional and new forms of media on suicide. First, I identified and codified the following types of suicides: murder by opprobrium, homicide suicide, revenge suicide, and nomadic response suicide. Then I moved from the very particularizing lens of each individual case to the generalizing lens of history and sociology, offering a view of how suicide has been perceived throughout eastern and western history. Next, I examined media in human ecology. The historical evolution of media offers at least a partial explanation for the constellation of factors that contribute to the suicide epidemic observed in this thesis.
Individual identity became the core matter freed from communal thinking---group consciousness---during this period. Books celebrated the power of individuals, through experience and reasoning, to liberate themselves from accepted wisdom and common dogmas. This is, in my reckoning, the high-water mark of individualism. But through the emergence of several subsequent technological devices, the liberated individual has become once again a captive of group consciousness, which now goes by the name "mass media" or "popular opinion." These technologies are designed, unlike the book, not to showcase the liberation of individual genius from common dogma, but to shepherd individual thought into an algorithm that pretends to represent common sense. My thesis maintained that the rise of suicide rates is collateral to this "false return" to subjectivity and the individual.
In conclusion, this thesis identified suicide as a function of societal conditions that require proper remedy---namely, a return to individual consciousness. The information age is another turning point in human ecology. The old ideological identities, communitarian moral standards, and hardline rules enforced by social rebuke have run their course. Therefore, I proposed a new role for education in my conclusion, called "conscientious consciousness," as a tool for evolution. Given that it is unlikely that we can reverse the socioeconomic and cultural conditions that form the context around which suicide "decisions" emerge, I proposed a mode of educating potential victims in navigating the unique challenges of the information age.