Suicide Is Painless, If You Do It Right.
Though not for those left behind. But this is not a decision altering concern at the point where dying is considered the only option. I wanted to write this piece about suicide. Because we, as a culture, and society, still don’t know what to do with it. We use it as an opportunity to promote mental health, and outreach. Suicide hotlines. We use it as a chance to remember the lives people have lived, ignoring how they chose to end it, by making it something dirty, or cowardly, or shameful. One of the many reasons I love the Japanese culture is a unique heritage that includes suicide, voluntary or mandated, within their historic social code. Failed as a samurai? Time to kill yourself. No tears. No fear. Only the morality of necessity. I wanted to write this, because writing helps me to work through the pain, and maybe sharing the pain will help with yours, and also I have some problems with the way we handle certain things, and I feel a certain need to rail against these things.
My largest problem is with the anger. This is prompted by Robin Williams, by the way. Out of the context of time, this would seem like just another Jeremiad against mono-culture. But. Let’s get Robin into this. Because he provides a perfect example of the wrongness of how we encounter suicide. A friend online referred to him as a “motherfucker” for committing suicide. I guess for making his day a little sad. I bet that knowledge would have made killing yourself much harder. Knowing that so many people would be angry at you for all but hijacking the 24 hours news cycle. Not the horror of eternal damnation or oblivion. Perpetual darkness and cold. Unexpected afterlife. Reducing the magic of existence down to the mediocrity of a corpse. Yes, I imagine, among the many concerns floating around the issue, the anger of your fan base towards your decision has special importance.
There should be no anger. Sadness, yes. But why be angry at a choice? Pro-choice people loose their enthusiasm when the person falls out of the womb. Choice ends at the vagina. Then, you’re locked into the whole horror show. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Until genetic failure or tragedy ends you. That is your job, kids. Depressed? Mutated? Infirmed? Too bad. You’re going to ride this nightmare out. Because the press of humanity did not conquer nature, science, and ourselves so that you could put a bag of gas over your head and play the exit music. Oh no. That is unacceptable.
Some of my greatest heroes have killed themselves, and I don’t hold it against them. How can I? I like to believe they knew what they were doing. When I see how things have gone for music, I am glad that Cobain got out of the game before the big fall. Hunter S. Thompson? Man had been relegated to a wheelchair. Who wants to see Dr. Gonzo in a wheelchair? Hemmingway? Great writer, but kind of a dick. Man was a veteran. Witnessed untold horrors. Wrote about some. How many nights of nightmares do you think you could handle before the concept of dreamless, eternal sleep forces your thinking towards a permanent solution?
Because I thought that was the whole damned point. That the miraculous thing about humanity was our communal decision not to wake up one morning, all kill ourselves, and let the dogs have a shot at developing a functioning society. Probably wearing whimsical sweaters. Maybe that is just me? I don’t know how a person could go through their entire life and not consider, at least once, ending their life? As an experiment. A test. A solution. Someone once explained suicide to me as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And I think they wanted that to sound bad. But it sounds pretty great, on the inside. You mean all of this anguish, and confusion, and fear could end permanently?! Sign me up!
The solutions that we have created involve a haphazard amalgam of therapy, psychopharmacology, self-help, and outreach. The outreach goes something like this; Don’t kill yourself. Because YOLO! And I don’t know if any of it is working. I don’t look at the numbers. The numbers make me sad. All the fabulous young kids shooting themselves in the head, or hanging themselves in the garage. This makes me far more sad than Robin, who had half a century of celebrity under his belt. But, the kids? What a tragic, senseless, useless waste of life. No wonder we don’t have a flying car readily available. The person who was to cure cancer slit their wrists in a tub sometime in the early zeros. We’re never getting off of this fucking planet.
What I am saying is that we should just roll everything back, turn it around, and try a different tactic. Religion attempted to bridge the gap by explaining that you shouldn't kill yourself, or what happened next was far, far worse. Or, marginally, and progressively worse. The State doesn't like suicide, but that is only because it is responsible for cleaning up the mess. So it is to us to find a reason to put pants on in the morning, instead of a suicide bag. Me? I've got my reasons. I’m trying to save the Earth, and then, perhaps, escape it. It takes a daily dedication to the absurd and impossible. Still beats church. Took me 30 years or so to figure it out. I first found out I was mortal at the age of 5, when the Challenger disintegrated on live educational T.V. It was the most valuable day of school, and taught me so many lessons that I could not sleep for more than a year afterwards.
Rocket scientists sometimes fuck up. Lesson one. Maybe I DON’T want to be an astronaut? I am going to die. I am going to die. I am going to die. That. Over and over. A lot. Many nights. Realizing that the entire game was flawed. That somehow, I had been brought into a world of wonder and excitement, only to die and disintegrate. I don’t know how you handle it. Dear reader. How anyone can grapple with the knowledge of mortality on a daily, weekly, and hourly basis. How we get anything done? Knowing we have an unknown amount of remaining time to do other things. Eventually, to sleep, I created a fantasy. I realized that science was on the cusp of solving mortality. That medicine would reach a point where it understood how and why we aged and died. I believed that they would create a cure. A simple inoculation against death. Probably it would be a shot. I was willing to shake hands with that, even at 5, in order to play with dogs, and eat French Toast, and ride bikes forever and ever, Amen.
It is a fiction, but comes closer to reality every day. If we can stop murdering, raping, and oppressing one another for fun and profit inside this century, focus on medicine and understanding the puzzle of genetics, pool our global resources to end hunger and poverty, it is possible that we could find the solution to reversing and halting aging at a place in time. Then it is only a matter of drunk drivers and firearms accidents. And, of course, those who are not with the plan. The suiciders.
I have killed myself in my mind thousands of times. Depression is a cruel animal that attacks at unpredictable times without mercy or grace. It strips the mind of hope, and reason, and in the darkness we plunge, seemingly alone, as those around us move as broken puppets. Within the lens of our disconnection we see it all for what it is. Laid bare, reality can be a dirty, angry, stupid thing. Truthfully we are all of us alone. Living somewhere between our eyes and ears. In an infinite void that progresses according to physics regardless of anything we may say or do. Everyone and everything you have ever or will ever know and love ultimately will be eradicated, and our lives, placed against even a geologic scale, are briefer than lightning, and less brilliant by half. Nietzche claimed that hope was the worst of evils, for it prolonged the torment of man. But. That guy was also a huge bummer. I tend to think that hope is the last light afforded the dying. We tend to see it through a tunnel.
You can kill yourself. I give you permission. But. You should probably run it past me first. Be of sound mind and body when you leave the planet. Do it correctly. So some poor mortician doesn’t have to put your pieces back together. If you want to get off the planet, I believe it is your right, as a living thing. Even lemmings have free will, and are living proof that life as a rodent is as shitty as it sounds. You can buy the ticket, take the ride, and find halfway through that it is only making you ill. That it isn’t fun. That, as it turns out, it is just frightening and terrible. And you can get off, if you want to. That is your right. As an animal. But for the sake of any Gods that may or may not be, check with me, first. You don’t have to check with me, specifically. It could be someone else. But the real litmus test of killing yourself should be proving the efficacy to an invested second party. This is the function of suicide hotlines, but they fail to account for the power of relation. I will tell you, if the balance weighs against you. I know many people who would probably be better off dead.
But they do not die. They refuse to. They battle things like bone cancer and organ transplants. They battle diseases, and blindness, and infirmity. Nose cancer. Some of them stand as modern Frankenstein experiments. Testaments to the inhumanity that modern medicine promotes as healing. Their scars are more numerous than the stars, and their pains are a chorus of anguish. Every morning they wake, and rise, and fight. Beginning with gravity, they overcome their circumstances to live, and provide, and nurture, and work as individuals and with communities towards a just, equal, and sustainable globe. And to me, that makes them heroes.
The truth is that we don’t get the call for help. That if it was as easy as acting as the referee to life decisions there would be no suicides. The truth is that a person gets tired of reaching out. That, at some point, though it doesn't make us weak, reaching out weakens us. Tires us. Places unto us a gravity that is unbearable. And there is nothing that we can do, when we receive the call that comes in lieu of help. That someone is gone forever, and nothing is to be done. We will do anything to save someone we love. If Robin needed an organ, or money, or an amusement park, I believe that we, as a world, would line up to give him kidneys or dollars or whatever. But I think, in the end, that what the man wanted was peace, and he has that now. But. He probably should have run things past me first. I would have, at least, liked to have seen his Warhammer collection and asked him welding questions. Questions that will have to wait till another world.