Monday, September 27, 2010

Suicide for Beginners

For those of you contemplating suicide, please wait until the end of December. You won’t want to miss another autumn. If it makes you feel better, carry a knife or sleeping pills with you and dwell on your misery or the fact that nobody pays attention to you—whatever, just get outdoors and enjoy the sights and scents of this beautiful season. Heck, you probably don’t have the guts to go through with it anyway. I’m not an advocate of suicide, mind you; however, I do believe in working smarter, not harder. So if you’re bent on the ultimate act of selfishness, then, as Larry the Cable Guy says, git-r-done! Have at it. Go to town. And don’t waste anyone’s time with a half-hearted “cry for help” attempt. You might accidentally put yourself in a coma or become a paraplegic. Your family will be caring for you for the rest of your life. Is that what you want? Do you want to be a worse burden to society than you already are? Think about it. You half-consciously wanted to get people’s attention and have people feel sorry for you, and now you’re a vegetable having your dear wife spoon applesauce into your pie hole. To quote Homer Simpson: Doh!

You’ll forgive my seeming insensitivity on this issue. To explain my feelings on the matter, I’ll use an analogy of illegal immigration, but keep in mind that my intention is not to be political, okay? Imagine you're a legal immigrant to this country who jumped through all the legal hurdles. You waited the long years for the paperwork to go through and took all the painstaking steps to become an American citizen. You studied American history and political science. Finally, you take an oath and become an American. After all this hard work, you see illegal aliens jumping over the fence and receiving healthcare, education and practically all the benefits of citizenship. They did nothing to earn these privileges. Well, that’s how I view people who take their own life. I’m not a stranger to depression. I have suffered at least a modicum of setbacks, not to mention the “insolence of office” and the “whips and scorns of time.” But suicide, my friend, is not an option. I’ll fight the good fight to the bitter end. Whatever adversity comes my way, I’ll face it, for the sake of others if not myself.  You want to take the easy way out.  I cannot respect that.  I've always held a special esteem for those who face adversity and depression with stoic fortitude.  Besides, the fact that people suffer greater hardships than you and press on should at least give you pause, no?

Perhaps a reader will respond thus: “But Der Viator, surely you realize that suffering is relative. You cannot judge someone for something so personal and individual.” Yes, indeed.  I'm aware that people respond to adversity differently, and in part the difference has to do with cultural context. For this reason we have some dude in Africa continuing on with his life after diamond thugs killed and raped family members before his eyes, whereas a UCLA student kills herself because her boyfriend broke up with her and she failed a couple exams. Suffering, or the response to suffering, is an individual thing. Therefore, you won’t begrudge me having little sympathy for those who commit suicide, for my view of suicide is also individualistic. Some people think it's a tragedy (and it is with respect to the grief and sense of loss that loved ones must now suffer), whilst others see it as a heinous act of selfish behavior.  By the way, I’m not Dr. Kevorkian, but I personally differentiate those who take their lives because they suffer from excruciating physical pain. I’m not so quick to tell these people what they can or can’t do with regard to their lives. However, if you’re gonna kill yourself because you’re depressed or feeling slighted or forlorn, do what you gotta do. My disrespect for your selfish choice and need for a melodramatic exit shouldn’t matter none. But as I say, wait until the end of December. It’d be a shame to miss the change of foliage one last time.