November 11, 2004

Contemplating Suicide

Scary title, eh? I'm not personally thinking of committing suicide, but I have been thinking about what it is and what it means.

This line of thought was triggered (no pun intended) by someone I didn't even know, who recently took their own life for reasons unknown to me. That's most of the details I have, and I don't need to know more because it's none of my business, and I refuse to disrespect that individual simply to satisfy my morbid curiousity. They obviously had reasons of their own, but I'll never understand how someone can come up with that final equation.

If it's so bad that death seems like the only answer, then doesn't it make sense to believe that things can only get better?

Like probably everyone else, I've pondered suicide at one time or another. And like most people, it's been fleeting and never taken very seriously. More of a "what if?" kinda thought.

And I think that might be a key. I don't even pretend to know what's going through someone's head in that situation, but if you can think beyond the moment then you probably don't really want to do it. I've never been able to think of my own death as a final thing, there's always consequences and repurcussions to consider among those I'll leave behind. Dying is only final for the one who stops breathing. Everyone else still has to deal with it.

There's definitely an element of selfishness involved too. Simple rule: if you're gonna kill yourself, please be kind enough to leave something behind to explain why. It doesn't have to be a twenty page self-psychoanalysis, but that wouldn't be a bad thing. Don't leave friends and family staring at each other and asking "why?".

I think I'm a reasonable guy, and so there are many situations I can think of where suicide might be acceptable or even preferable. It doesn't even bother me to think that way, because not everyone thinks like me, or sees the world like I do. Still, I wish I could've been there to help in some way. Maybe just to listen or lend a shoulder to cry on. To try to point out some small sliver of silver lining they might not have thought of. To keep them from feeling so damned alone. To try to understand.

Posted by Ted at November 11, 2004 08:46 AM
Category: Seriously

I wonder why more people don't opt to do it in a less messy way. I always figured that if I was going to Do the Deed, I would arrange it so that I was on a tarp, had a sufficient backstop so that I didn't hit any innocent bystanders, etc.

Of course, that sort of thinking might be exactly why I'll never commit suicide.

Posted by: Phelps at November 11, 2004 10:48 AM

Yeah, that is a scary title. And it wouldn't matter if a person left a 100-page, point-by-point list of reasons, the survivors (family & friends) will still be wondering why, and what-if.

"Still, I wish I could've been there to help in some way. Maybe just to listen or lend a shoulder to cry on. To try to point out some small sliver of silver lining they might not have thought of. To keep them from feeling so damned alone."

You probably do this every day. You probably hold a door open and say good morning to a coworker, you help a kid lauch a rocket, you take an interest in a sullen teen friend of your daughter. You never know which person out there is in desperate need of a kind gesture, and sometimes the smallest act from a stranger can have a big impact.

Posted by: nic at November 11, 2004 03:25 PM

I've also been thinking about why people kill themselves lately, as did Iris Chang, author of the Nanking Massacre. Regrettably, she did more than think about it. It is, probably all the time, a very selfish act.

Posted by: RP at November 12, 2004 07:54 AM

To keep them from feeling so damned alone.

That's the msster's choice, in't it? To selflessly go where s/he wont go alone...?

I've come to believe that some people choose suicide (i.e.: die of lonliness) because they are tragically chronically lonesome. But also that they are distraught. Not just from lonliness, but from Life itself.

As hard as it is to try to put ourselves into the head of someone who actually goes and does it, it's even harder to understand what true lonliness even is.

Even when we're most alone we are never apart from our imagination. To feel so alone that he'd wanna just end it all probably means that he was in a state of mind that we will hopefully never completely understand.

I don't think of suicide as a selfish act but as an act of profound surrender. Selfish acts you do for your own best interests. Surrender you do for nothing.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at November 13, 2004 12:06 AM

The thought crosses my mind all the time now. Mom's got a bit of a suicidal streak herself, and I've yelled at her for years about it, telling her that's just great, and gee thanks for not considering what that would do to me. But I've been so despondent lately that I've found myself realizing how very easy it would be to plow the car off a bridge or into a landfill somewhere. And I hate having those thoughts because I still have a lot of people I haven't sufficiently pissed off enough to say I led a fulfilling life. ;) If I can't change the world, then damn it, I need to make certain people wish they were dead when they see me rise to be successful again!

Posted by: dawn at November 15, 2004 06:41 PM

From someone that is completely and utterly despondent and suicidal....I actually believe that I would be doing those around me a favor (that they won't see) by killing myself. See, if I am not around to do damage to them because I am so angry, lonely, full of self hate and worthlessness then they will be better off. Until you have starved, you can not contemplate the feeling. Until you have been abused you can not contemplate the affect and the destruction. Until you have been abandoned, you can not know the lonliness...and I am not talking about some teenage love where I was left. I am talking about being abandoned as a child and some how being overlooked over and over and being abused over and over....knowing in one part of my brain that I am not worthless, but not being able to own it because the actions of others speak louder than words.....Don't tell me I am being selfish because I am the poison in the pond killing the fish.

Posted by: Cheese at January 25, 2005 10:38 AM
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