Suicide Isn’t Painless And Probably Not A Choice
I read John Donne and I like the poem Death Be Not Proud. But what is a proud death exactly? My best friend for almost thirty five years was paralyzed in a motorcycle wreck when he was twenty five. Instead of killing himself he moved heaven and earth to live as much as possible and made it for thirty seven more years to the age of 61. He made sure he had enough pills around to kill himself just in case he got really bad off, he asked me not to tell anyone he had them and asked me if I would help him if he needed it. I said yes but he never used them and quietly went off into that good night without any help. He is my hero and I miss him every day and I would say he had a proud life but not everyone has the same strength.
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
What’s courage? Is it to keep on living when every fiber in your being questions why you are doing it? Or is it being able to let go? Being miserable doesn’t seem like a reason to kill yourself but it sure doesn’t sound like a reason to live either and if you feel like you are already dying then maybe it is.
When you think about it having a person die when they are youngish and not at an age one would naturally hope to live to is a tragedy. When someone dies at an age over what most of us can reasonably hope to achieve, no matter what the reason, it is much easier to accept when the death occurs no matter how it happens. When death comes from random incidents, whether it is a car accident or murder, it feels much more tragic when the same death happens to a young person than a seventy year old person. Think about it, it’s true. When someone who has cancer dies we feel it’s sad, because cancer is unfair but we understand they didn’t want to live in pain and suffering any more. That really isn’t any different that when a person who is suffering from extreme depression or mental problems kills themselves, they are already dying in a way that only they can understand. If they had cancer you would forgive them.
The first friend I had that killed themselves tried to first do it at the age of thirty by stabbing himself hari-kari style and he somehow lived through it. Russell was struck in the mouth with a baseball bat when he was a kid playing little league and it broke off his front teeth. His family was poor and couldn’t afford to fix his teeth. He grew up being teased about his broken teeth and was afraid to smile. He became a drug addict and eventually shook that and got a decent job. Russell was painfully shy and insecure and fifteen years after he stabbed himself in the stomach. Eventually he finally had a good enough job to afford to get his teeth fixed and he came by and showed them to me and told me how much better it made him feel. I was happy for him. A month later he hung himself, he couldn’t shake the feelings of being a worthless person after spending most of his life looking at a man in the mirror with broken teeth. It was too late to fix him.
The next friend that killed himself was a man who had cancer. He had successfully fought it off fifteen years earlier but when it came back he was tired of fighting and couldn’t do it a second time. He came to visit me a few days before to let me know it was his time. He was at peace with his decision and so was I.
The third person I knew that killed himself was a schizophrenic, when he was twenty one and in college he started believing that people were following him and watching him. He ended up moving back home with his parents. Roger told me he knew he was crazy and that he was making his parents miserable. A couple months later he lay down on his stomach on the back of their property and drowned himself in a foot of water. It was a noble and sad thing as the medication he took never seemed to help him.
Just a few weeks ago a very outgoing and friendly girlfriend of mine hung herself. This was after trying carbon monoxide poisoning a year before and a friend found her and stopped her and six months ago she took a bunch of pills and someone else found her and stopped her. I suspect she was manic depressive but I guess it doesn’t matter, she finally picked a way to kill herself when no one was around to catch her in time. I hope she is finally at peace, whatever that is.
The first suicide I ever had to deal with was when I read that Pete Deuel shot himself. I was a young teenager and I couldn’t understand how a good looking young actor who was successful could be so miserable that he would kill himself. I had never been involved with the world of suicide before this and it totally blew me away. As I got older I grew to understand the fragile nature of life but I still struggle to understand giving it away willingly.
I watched a television show about the band INXS and the suicide of the lead singer by hanging and after I found out that he had a traumatic brain injury that left him without a sense of smell or taste I thought that this would be a rather horrible fate to have. No matter how bad things in my life get I always loved to cook and eat and I am not sure how I would react if that was something I no longer had. No one knows of course what he was thinking in the end.
I don’t understand how someone with a nonfatal debilitating disease would kill themselves because I was born with one of those diseases 57 years ago and still choose life.
Suicide is a synonym for madness and maybe that’s exactly what it is. The people who are suffering from their madness don’t want to be and they are not intentionally trying to hurt you. Forgive them for wanting to leave their suffering and walk towards the light. You know not what they are going through. No one chooses the suffering they go through that leads them to kill themselves.
Walk into the light always and if it grows dark do everything you can to bring the light back.