2008 February 16

When I’m depressed, suicide is never far from my mind. It’s kind of like a favorite song that is constantly playing in the back of your mind, but you only become aware of it from time to time. I can walk around all day not really concentrating on it, but knowing that it is just below the surface.

So, I figure that I might as well bring it out into the open, just so that you know my feelings about it.

Of course, I have thought about killing myself for years and years. When I was a teen-ager, it was constantly thinking about suicide that first drove me to talk to a high school counselor. I guess that was the beginning of letting the world in on my thinking. Just for the record, talking to that counselor was a mistake. Oh, well.

At the time, of course, I didn’t really have enough courage to kill myself. And I would have done it for the wrong reasons. Basically, I was just in so much psychological and emotional pain that I wanted to do anything to get out of it. Hence, killing myself. I even made a couple of fairly feeble attempts. But, fortunately, I didn’t have nearly enough courage to go through with it. What actually stopped me was that the pain of death seemed to be greater than the pain of living. Pretty cowardly not to do it. On the other hand, it was the correct decision.

Over the past year, I have formulated what I believe to be the correct reason and the correct method of suicide.

Before I get to that, however, let me just say that suicide is a very drastic step. It cannot be undone. I strongly, strongly urge anyone reading this not to do it. There is a wonderful book called Etiquette For Outlaws. It deals with situations about which you probably were not instructed, such as how to behave in a tattoo parlor, or a strip club, or a jail, or around a motorcycle gang, and so on. (Basically, the advice is: treat everyone with respect. They all deserve it.) Anyway, they have a section about suicide, just in case your outlaw ways become too much for you. As I recall, their main advice (other than not to do it) is to think about everyone who will be affected by your decision. For example, who will find your body? How will your loved ones be notified? What happens when someone is going through your effects and finds all your kinky porn stuff? That sort of thing.

I must emphatically second their thinking on this. You can’t just kiss off this life and leave a huge mess behind. It’s really not fair to a lot of people who had nothing to do with your decision. And, if they did have something to do with your decision, then you made your decision for the wrong reason. I mean, look at it this way. Let’s say that you have just been spurned by a lover. So you think, “I’ll kill myself as revenge!” Big mistake, Skippy. Remember: Living Well is the best revenge. Dying is the worst possible revenge of all. If the person who spurned you doesn’t really care about you, then you killing yourself will have no effect on them, and a BIG effect on you–you lose. On the other hand, if the person who spurned you does care somewhat about you, then you are doing a really, really shitty thing to someone who cares about you. And what kind of person does that? Not you, certainly.

I could go through lots of other examples, but I think you see the idea. Suicide is a horrible substitute for just about everything for which it can be substituted. Look at much, much easier methods to solve your problems: divorce, bankruptcy, going to jail, taking that Ethics final. All of these things are temporary. You’ll get over them.

So, let me get back to what I started with: why and how suicide is OK. I have decided that suicide is acceptable if, and only if, life has nothing left to off you, and you have nothing left to offer it. If you have given everything that you possibly can to life, and to the world, and to the people in the world–that is to say, if you cannot make one more contribution of any kind to any living creature in the world; and IF life has nothing left to offer you: no more simple (or non-simple) joys, no more beauty, no more surprises, no more learning, no more discovering something that you didn’t know before. IF those two things are true, then suicide is the only viable (if you’ll pardon the term) option.

So, how to do it? I have two plans. Here is one of them. You must, of course, have absolute respect for everyone who will be affected by your decision. Typically, many, many people that you leave behind will blame themselves for not having done more either to foresee what you are about to do, or to stop you from doing it. You must not, under any circumstances, allow this to happen. So, the first step is to make a list of everyone who will be affected. The second step is to write an individual letter to each person on the list, telling them what exactly your reasons are, and why they should not feel any regret or remorse about your decision. As I mentioned earlier, finding the body of a person who committed suicide can be enormously traumatic. So, I won’t allow it to happen. Also (and this is just personal to me), I can’t allow myself to be in a situation where I could second guess myself for even a second. So, no jumping off of cliffs or high buildings. I would hate to get halfway down and have second thoughts. Also, the method must be absolute. Again, I could think of nothing worse than trying to poison myself, only to fail but destroy my liver or kidneys in the process. Then I have all of my original problems, plus a bad kidney or liver. So, for me, a shotgun is the way to go.

In detail: If I ever decide to kill myself, I will obtain a shotgun. I will engrave my name and the telephone number of the local police department on the barrel of the gun. I will then drive a long way away from civilization. I’m not talking about two minutes off the local bike path. I’m talking about going to the Rocky Mountains, fifty miles from the nearest city. Then hiking so that I’m two or three hours from the nearest road. That should be remote enough. You find a good, solid tree and sit down at its base. You lean back against the trunk of the tree, and take a last look at the world. You put the shotgun in your mouth and fire.

Of course, before you do this, you will have written all of the letters to all of the people who will be affected by your death. You will have mailed them so that they arrive at the recipients on the day of your death. You will also have written a letter to your local police department alerting them that at some time in the future they may–may–get a strange phone call about a shotgun with their telephone number engraved on it. If they do get such a call, someone has just found you.

The reason you are doing this is because death by shotgun is an unbelievably messy ending. Messy, of course, in human terms. Mother Nature, however, has all kinds of scavengers–from microscopic on up–who will delight at the good fortune of finding your corpse. Given enough time, they will leave a very nice, clean death scene. And that’s why you want to be someplace remote–you want to give Mother Nature lots of time to clean up. Two seasons is the minimum, the longer the better. Imagine, for example, if a dead body appears in the fall. The winter snows will settle over it, and, as the snow melts, gently wash away blood and other liquids. In the spring, as all of the hungry scavengers arise from their winter slumber, they will start in on your remains. Of course, if you are really lucky, it may be years and years before someone finds you. However, so as not to disturb people with trying to track down a mystery, you will engrave your name and a phone number on the gun barrel, because that will remain immutable evidence for decades, and so, the finder’s mystery will soon be solved.

So, that’s it. If you have any questions, or think that I may have left anything out, please leave a comment. If I think of anything else, I’ll come back and amend this post.


2 Responses to “Suicide”

  1. Rob N. said

    I’ve thought along similar lines. I think a pistol would suffice, but to each his own.

    Like you said, it’s a bad idea. I tend to think more in terms of being a burden, mostly in the financial sense, but you made some good points.

    I agree that it takes more courage to do it than not. (Unless you’re some kind of crazy to a higher degree than I’ve yet experienced crazy.) If I had guts, I’d have probably done it several years ago. Actually, I relinquished my pistol, because that’s my preferred method; quick, easy, painless. Now I’d have to hunt up a pistol, which might take a day or so. A lot can happen in 24 hours.

    Anyway, don’t do it.


  2. polyphemus said

    Excellent point, Rob. I forgot to mention that I have never allowed myself to buy a shotgun for the exact reason of putting off any kind of sudden impulse.

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