January 21, 2022

Reflections on Suicide

Have you ever thought about killing yourself before? If so, have you actually acted on that thought? Did you succeed?

I know I?ve thought about it before, and I think to an extent we all have. A few of us have even made an attempt or two, thankfully to no avail. I?m glad those years are behind me now.

Each year in the United States roughly 25,000 people succeed in killing themselves. About 10 times this many however unsuccessfully try. In fact, suicide seems to be quite the popular trend among celebrities. Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Cleopatra, Cobain, Jack London etc. We can even ad Hitler, Samson, and Jim Jones to the list if we want.

Most religions regard suicide as a sin. I ask then, why do some cultures actually romanticize it? From Japanese Hara Kari to the ancient days of the Romans, suicide has actually been looked up to. To quote Seneca, a first century Roman stoic:

Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can?He will always think of life in terms of quality, not quantity? Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is?Even if it is true that while there is life, there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost.

Or, to quote one of my favorite country singers ?There?s a difference in living, and living well?. That makes sense to me. Why prolong a live that is not worth living?

That, in turn raises another question which I hope to shed some light on. Yes, I?m talking about the ethical quandaries involved with taking your own life. After all it?s YOUR life right? When you get down to it, isn?t it really the only think that?s truly yours; to do with what you please?

If I make a rational decision to take my own life, who are you to stop me? (not that ?I? am considering it) It?s my life right? It?s a pretty tight argument, but there?s one key word in there worth considering: rational .

I prepared an argument for this point, but after browsing the web I found a much better way to present this. Let?s look at some actual suicide notes. (of course I?ve removed anything identifying the people who wrote them. Some are famous, some aren?t.)

When many people think of suicide they think of romantic final words in a tear-jerking note left for loved ones. A note that reads like a message from beyond the grave. Notes like:

? there should be no sadness, and no searching for who is at fault; for the act and result are not sad, and no one is at fault. My only sorrow is for my parents who will not easily be able to accept that this is so much better for me. Please, folks, it?s all right, really it is.?

Or

?I wanted to be too many things, and greatness besides ? it was a hopeless task. I never managed to really love another person ? only to make the sounds of it. I never could believe what my society taught me to believe, yet I could never manage to quite find the truth.?

Or

?2:15 pm ? I?m about to will myself to stop my heartbeat and respiration. This is a very mystical experience. I have no fear. That surprises me. I thought I would be terrified. Soon I will know what death is like ? how many people out there can say that??

But seriously, how common are such notes? The previous examples are, in their own right, creative, unique, beautiful (for lack of a better word) pieces of writing that delve into the writer?s soul.

Alas, many real suicide notes are not like this. They are more practical and to the point, such as a last will, or a list of instructions to be carried out. Some are straight to the point, like the one man who before hanging himself in a barn wrote on the outside wall with chalk: ?sorry about this, there?s a corpse in here. Please inform the police.?

You?d think that if somebody were going to end it all they?d leave behind a more poetic legacy, something to be remembered by right? But when you get down to it, the suicidal person isn?t very rational to begin with. They?re usually depressed, down, panic stricken, or hysterical. How could their thoughts be clear?

So what exactly is it that makes up their mind? How and when do they decide it?s time to end it all? What goes through their mind as they sit there, fire up the word processor, spew out some rhetorically witty banter, carefully aim the steel barrel down their throat and BAM!

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com

Comments

  1. i was contamplating on commiting suicide tonite and now that i have read this page i finally realise that there is more to life than u actually think thanks for turning my life around i realy apreiciate it.Thanks once again and im only 14 so thank u sooooooo much i can now look forward to living the rest of my life once again THANK YOU P.S. great page