I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but after Chester Bennington died, even I thought it was too soon. The sad reality, though, is that talking about suicide is kind of like talking about gun laws. If the rule is that “you can’t talk about it shortly after an event”, then you’ll never talk about it. I’m guessing that almost everyone knew someone, or knows someone who knew someone who either killed themselves or, at least tried to do so.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are roughly 121 suicides each day. That’s just in the United States. One estimate is that for each successful suicide, there are 12 failures. Though, being a failure is often what makes someone suicidal. Yeah. I made a joke about suicide. That’s what I do.
Here’s the thing, and why this article will be vastly different than all of the other articles you’ve seen about suicide. I’m a big fan of suicide. I really am. It’s such a wonderful thing. The only reason I haven’t killed myself yet is because I haven’t come up with good enough jokes for my suicide note. And also, I spelled “narcissism” correctly later in this article on the first try. There is so much in this world that we can’t control. We can’t control the weather, what kind of day we will have, who we will meet each day, etc. But we can control when we die, and how. In a bizarre way, suicide has been quite comforting for me. Knowing that I can end it at anytime, whenever I feel like it, is actually soothing for me.
We seem to be the only species on this planet that sets unattainable goals for ourselves. When we were children, how many of us wanted to be astronauts? Pirates? Princesses? Pretty much every woman I’ve ever met has wanted to be a veterinarian. Did any of us dream of growing up one day to work a dead end 9-5 job in an office for some asshole? You might have seen 121 suicides a day as ridiculously high. I can’t believe it’s that low. From childhood, we set ourselves up for failure.
Forget 18 being the age of adulthood. For me, the crushing realization that you’re not going to be special, that you won’t achieve your dreams, that you won’t matter to other people as much as you hoped. THAT is when you become an adult.
Oh, and by the way, suicide shouldn’t be just seen as the end result of depression. It usually is, and I’ll address the rest of this article that way, but suicide doesn’t have to be. It can be about reaching the top. It can be about accomplishing everything you are going to accomplish. For me, I readily realize that I will never do more than I’m doing now. I’ve reached my peak. At this point, I’m just a waste of resources with lots of books left to read. So whenever I do die, it won’t be out of sadness, or negative feelings. It will be about ending my life on my terms. It will be about finally, taking the power back.
When it comes to arguments against suicide, they generally are in three categories. What about those you leave behind? It’s the coward’s way out. It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Let’s dissect these arguments.
What about those you leave behind? There’s an assumption in society that depression and suicide are selfish acts. Yet the first argument most people use against it, is selfishness. “Don’t leave ME.” You have no idea what someone else is going through. Why should they continue to live and suffer, just so you feel better? I thought it wasn’t healthy to live our lives for other people. Instead, this should be an opportunity for friends and family to reconnect. Either to remind the suicidal person that they aren’t alone, perhaps rebuild bridges, or if the person does kill themselves, the survivors can come together to mourn their mutual loss. It doesn’t have to be pure sadness.
That’s for the survivors. What about the person who dies? For whatever reason, they want off this roller coaster of life. How dare you dictate how they experience that life? Parents get furious with me when I talk about effective parenting methods, or how they shouldn’t have children at all. People argue with me my political and religious views all the time. But then to turn around and tell someone they’re not allowed to choose whether or not to continue on the ride? Really? Doesn’t that sound hypocritical? It’s pure narcissism on their part. Instead of accepting the person suffering as they are, they insist that the person become the person they want them to be. That sentence has too many pronouns.
It’s the coward’s way out. Funny. Suicide used to be a noble exit. Even in popular media, like the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, they give Jack Sparrow, sorry, Captain Jack Sparrow, a gun with one bullet left, so he could have the dignity to end his life. The phrase “falling on one’s sword” was about people being allowed to kill themselves when they failed. How is it cowardly, anyway? It takes a lot of willpower to overrule our survival instinct. Most people go insane when their Starbucks order isn’t perfect. Imagine if your life isn’t perfect. What you might not realize is that by the time someone has actually killed themselves, they’ve been suffering for a long time. Usually years.
To go back to the Starbucks analogy. Let’s say you went to a Starbucks and they messed up your order, so you complained on Twitter. Then the next day, you went back to that Starbucks and they messed up your order again. Then the next day, the same thing happened. How long until you stopped going to that Starbucks? A week? Pfft. Coward. Try dealing with that for years.
It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So? Let’s say you have inoperable cancer. Why should you be forced to suffer to the point of living a miserable existence? Why not let that person kill themselves before it gets too bad? Do you want to live in a care community where people have to clean up the mess when you can’t even use the restroom? Even if someone wanted to die because the last episode of Lost sucked, it’s their life/death. It’s none of your business. If you actually cared about them, you would understand that.
So yeah, I’m a big fan of suicide. I want to go out on my terms. But, I do think there should be an etiquette about suicide. Here are my rules. First, don’t be a dick. Don’t make a mess. Don’t take anyone out with you. Most importantly, don’t take the decision lightly. Exhaust all other options first.
Don’t be a dick. Don’t leave a suicide note blaming everyone else. When I was a suicidal teen, my dream was putting my parents on notice. Making sure they knew that I was killing myself because of them. What would that gain? It won’t make your pain lessen. It will make their pain worse. I understand the impulse, but they are already losing a child. I imagine that is quite a bit of pain on it’s own. Besides, when most people hear that someone close to them has killed themselves, they assume they either were a reason, or should have done more to prevent it. If you do need to blame someone, do it in a passive aggressive way. Forgive them.
Don’t make a mess. Few people know how disgusting death is. I won’t get into details, but understand that the scene will be chaos. So lay down a tarp or a shower curtain or something. Even a painless suicide will have debris. Don’t leave it for your grieving survivors to clean. Don’t leave it for your landlord to clean. Depending on where you live, and the laws, they might have to pay a hazmat team to clean up after you. So make it as easy and cheap on them as you can.
Don’t take anyone out with you. Suicide should be your choice. Yours. Don’t make that choice for anyone else. This should be obvious, but when you’re depressed, sometimes, you can’t think clearly. There’s a desire, for some, to kill people the suicidal person perceives as the cause of the suicide. Don’t do that. I mean, if you do take someone else out, at least have fun with it. Don’t take out that bully from high school, or that whore of an ex. Like… take out a clown college, or something.
Don’t take the decision lightly. Exhaust all other options first. I’ve been there. I know how it feels to realize your life will never get better. I’ve swallowed the bottle of pills. I’ve put the plastic bag over my face. I have been there. I’ve also been to therapy. I’ve also been on antidepressants. I’ve also been happy after being suicidal.
When you are depressed, it limits your ability to perceive existence outside of yourself. You look around, and all you see is verification of your depression. It’s like the worst Instagram filter ever. Give therapy a shot. Give medication a shot. And if, after that, it doesn’t work, then go ahead and give yourself a shot.
You’re not consulted before you’re born. You don’t have the option to cancel the service of life. You’re locked into a subscription that you didn’t ask for. Imagine someone signed you up for Teen Vogue. For life. Every month, your card gets charged for this magazine you didn’t want. You can’t throw them away, or unsubscribe, because that’s the coward’s way out. So you’re forced to buy bookshelf after bookshelf for these dumb magazines. Decades go by. Trends change. Now you’re no longer a teen, and don’t understand what a fidget spinner is. But you’ve still got to find space for 30 more years of these magazines. That’s what life is. I say you should be able to unsubscribe anytime you want, for any reason you want.
Know that suicide isn’t certain. There are consequences. Maybe you survive. Maybe you survive but are locked in a vegetative state. Maybe you survive but are left horribly disfigured. Maybe you succeed, but your reasoning was flawed. Maybe you killed yourself because you had incorrect information. It’s a risk. Don’t go into it thinking that it’s a sure thing. Oh, and let me be clear, it won’t have the impact that you might hope. Sure, your friends will be angry and sad. For a while. But eventually, they will move on with their lives. If your goal is to scar them in some way so that you become the worst legend since that Will Smith movie, then maybe suicide isn’t what you want.
If you do decide to die, use it as a way to help others, and leave the world better than the one you had to experience. Donate your body to science. Give away your stuff, but do it covertly. Don’t tip people off about what you want to do. And clear your browser history.