Perhaps I should be called Macbeth as tragedy seems to want to surround me, ok that is a little dramatic but twice now I have physically been close to someone who has attempted suicide…one a failed attempt jumping from a third storey building and sadly yesterday’s not so happy ending of a woman who jumped in front of a train.
This isn’t a subject people like to talk about because then they would have to decide which side of the fence they are going to sit on, should they feel sympathy or anger towards a person who has committed suicide? Suicide is not easy to understand unless you have been in that downward spiral where you believe there is only one way to take you away from all your emotional pain. That of course can include the pain of loneliness and lack of care and attention they receive.
Cutting wrists is visually dramatic, often to impress friends and family with haunting images, that are sometimes meant to punish them for not helping the person in cause when they needed you most.
Public suicides however, have a larger target audience, so what are they trying to tell us? Do they want to become remarked, to stand out, due to a need for acknowledgment, with this; they blame the whole society for their problems, and their death. Furthermore, they delude themselves, that a suicide in public will be long remembered after their death. Just like any normal person wants to live longer, an abnormal person with suicidal tendencies is satisfied with a longer existence through the tragic memory of others. You and I might consider this absurd, but for their flawed thought process, during an intense emotional state, this seems reasonable.
Yesterday’s incident is still very raw in my mind but I haven’t forgotten the other chaps attempt, I think of it often…so the fact I still remember, after all that time, proves the chap still exists in my memory. That is the exact reason he attempted to kill himself in front of me and many others. I am sure and this may sound odd, but I believe that is what feeds public suicides.
Suicides are not pleasant, nor for the victim, their family or the audience. But who should I feel sorry for, the woman who committed suicide or the driver and the rest of us travelers who had to be party to this one persons melt down? My heart does go out to her family but my head tells me I should feel more sympathy for the living…the ones who will have that image burned into their brain for the rest of their days.
And I hope Ken doesn’t mind me posting the following poem he wrote a while back, which can be found on his website http://www.readysteadyrhyme.com/
This is how death should be treated.
by Ken Donner on September 28, 2009
When Death comes banging at my door,
Let it fight to get inside,
I’ll not bow to what’s in store,
I’ll not turn or run or hide,
When Death comes round then let it be,
Because it’s angry, seething mad,
Filled with rage and jealousy,
Envious of the life I’ve had!
8 thoughts on “Suicide…but is it painless?”
‘Tis the rub in suicide. When you, the suicidal, think you’re doing the world a favor, you’re really fucking everything up for the entire world around you.
I hesitate to say that suicide is selfish because, while it is, there is a deeper issue at hand and calling someone sick “selfish” seems like adding insult to injury. It breaks my heart that people cannot be treated or cannot respond to treatment that would prevent this in the first place.
I really do hear you on the naming them selfish because I swing from the how selfish are they for putting others through misery just because they couldn’t cope and then I feel bad and wish they had received help before life had become so intolerable but I feel deep down when you have completely given up it doesn’t matter how good the treatment is…it will never be enough to turn things around.
Honoured to have you use the poem. I haven’t read it in a long time, but doing so now I realise I still feel exactly the same.
Due to my line of work I have had to take a stance on suicide. You can’t do suicide prevention and be ambivalent about whether or not people have the right to take their own lives. Regardless of any religious arguments, I simply decided long ago that we don’t bring ourselves into this world, and we don’t have the right to take ourselves out.
It is a selfish act. Not just for the person that witnessed, but for all the related friends and family, all wondering and beating themselves up over whether or not they could have done anything. All of those close will also have an increased risk of suicide themselves. Not that suicide is a learned behaviour directly, but having a close person who has successfully committed suicide is one of the indicators in suicide prevention.,
Of course people who commit suicide are clinically depressed in almost all cases. I’d like to say that there is sufficient treatment availalble for all, but we know there isn’t. I was pretty pissed off at Hunter Thompson when he committed suicide so publicly, and staged it as if it were some grand event. In my mind it was an act of cowardice. It’s much braver to go on living. If he had he would have seen Obama elected and I would have loved to hear him comment on the political scene today.
We’ve come a long way in the history of suicide though. At least now we realise that people do need help. In Canada, up until 1968 when then Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau changed the law, suicide was considered an act of murder and treated thusly. Presumably most countries have a similar history.
Really sorry that you have had to experience this. I know the mental health system is complicated everywhere, it is not always easy to get the help you need yourself, or to get help for friends and loved ones, but suicide is just a senseless awful waste of life.
when the woman jumped infront of the train on Thursday I remembered your poem, not word for word but it was the first thing I looked for when I got home.
You comment “we don’t bring ourselves into this world, and we don’t have the right to take ourselves out” is so very true but I have recently been thinking about how I feel towards assisted suicide (purely because of a tv programme) and it has raised so many thoughts about suicide, how people get to a point in their life where they see no other way out that I can’t make a decision as to how I truly feel about it… perhaps I am not supposed…maybe just deal with each situation as they occur in my life.
I have gone through periods of really deep intense depression where I genuinely believed that the world and everyone in it would be better off if I were no longer alive. These are the thoughts of a suicidally depressed person. They follow you around like a dark shadow that constantly whispers in your ear telling you how worthless you are and how everyone would better off without you. You cannot see or hear the people around you who do really care about you and would be utterly devastated if you took your own life.
Then again, it’s a double-edged sword. If you’re so worthless then how on earth do you think the death of someone so insignificant and worthless would make any difference whatsoever?
It’s really hard to get rid of these thoughts. They keep coming back like the cravings of an addict. In the words of Devin Townsend, you’re addicted, which makes it seem so hard to be your friend. You’re addicted to your pain.
Interestingly I met my therapist yesterday and my feeling of worthlessness seems to be one of my major stumbling blocks because there is only so long I can keep my mask on before everyone sees me for who I truly am…and that is a person who I don’t think people would really want to know. I can now see where that dark shadow would be the cause for much distress or pain in your life, I hope you continue to avoid your dark shadow for a very very long time.
I find the whole assisted suicide discussion to be more confusing as well actually, largely due to the experience of my mother living on life support for almost 20 years. If she had asked me privately at any time to pull the plug for her I don’t know what my response would have been. I may very well have acquiesced to her wishes to though.
As for selfworth, we all get so wrapped up and bogged down with that, and struggle to deal with those personal feelings of worth. Truth is I don’t think we can measure our worth ourselves. I work with clients that many people would consider to be the dregs of society, severely mentally ill, addicted to drugs and alcohol, often homeless. They are all individuals, and in my more than 20 years of doing this work I have never met anyone who didn’t have their own story, and something to respect. We do not know what we give to the world, and it is self-centered in a way to think we do.
Two quotes come to mind for me. The first is “We take our pain so personally.” I’m not sure who said it, but I suspect it was me actually, haha. It’s true though. We all suffer in this world, and go through trials and tribulations, but when it happens we respond with Why me, why me?!?
The other quote though is from Ludwig Wittgenstein, and I have on occassion used it at the funerals of clients:
“You may not think that the world needs you, but it does. For you are unique, like no one that has ever been before or will come after. No one can speak with your voice, say your piece, smile your smile or shine your light, No one can take your place, for it is yours alone to fill. If you are not there to shine your light, who knows how many travellers will lose their way as they try to pass by your empty place in the darkness.”
That was very moving, Ken.