Maybe I’m way off on this - I’m just shooting in the dark here - but it seems like when someone takes their own life and the people react, there’s a group that’s mad at the person who killed themselves. Especially when it’s someone who “didn’t seem depressed.” Never mind that we know clinical depression is an illness that has to be treated, and is different from “the blues” or just being sad — anyone who commits suicide is, in the eyes of these people I’m talking about (you know the ones), a selfish asshole who couldn’t appreciate life and should’ve sought help and also what were they so sad about?
Look, we’re all going to die. And it could happen randomly and senselessly and it is almost always out of our control. That’s why I support euthanasia in cases of people suffering from extremely painful terminal illnesses if it’s the patient’s choice. The way I see it, if I’m gonna’ go away anyway, you’re the asshole who’s keeping me alive and in pain.
And that got me to thinking - yeah. We all go. Why the hell is it anyone else’s business if I choose I want out early?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m terrifyingly afraid of death. It is something I have struggled with since I was a child; the fear of not knowing existence anymore. To have consciousness end. That’s excruciatingly scary to think about. So for the most part I don’t.
But we’re running a thought experiment here. And as uncomfortable a subject as it may be, it’s reality. We can’t ignore reality. I could die tomorrow. I could get hit by a bus or whatever. It’s not in my control.
What if it was?
Under what circumstances is suicide acceptable?
The primary argument leveled against those that commit suicide is that they were cowards who couldn’t handle what life was throwing at them, or that they were selfish for leaving behind people who depended on them.
What if you live in a third-world country (or, hell, America) and you’re starving to death and there are no good options to get out of your situation? Would you blame them for killing themselves? Would that be okay?
Now, let’s say I’m a forty-year old man. My parents have passed. I have no children, no significant other, no dependents, no pets, no close friends, I’m watching the news and getting incredibly depressed. I decide I want out.
I turn in my two weeks notice, sell off my possessions, take care of my post-death arrangements (funeral and burial costs, etc.), write a will, close my online accounts, terminate my lease, cancel my cable, pay off my credit cards. I’m sure this will raise some flags, but in this hypothetical situation, I’m more or less making it look like I’m moving out of the country.
Then I buy a plane ticket. Maybe to Mexico or the Caribbean. I charter a boat to take me out to international waters. Assuming the sheer beauty of the Caribbean doesn’t convince me to change my mind, I tie a lead weight to my ankle and jump off.
"What are you doing?" cries the shocked boat captain in Spanish, after realizing what I’m doing. But it’s too late! I’m sinking to the bottom of the ocean. I drown. Dead.
The captain finds a note I left, and a thumb drive with a video file confirming my intentions to kill myself. I could’ve brought a witness to verify that the captain meant me no harm, but they might try to stop me, so I do it this way.
The first thing you’d think is that if the hypothetical me didn’t really have any friends, who’s going to be upset? Who’s going to be around to go, “Man, I know he didn’t have a lot going on in life, but he shouldn’t have gone through with that. He should’ve joined a club or something.”
Well, if anyone reads this, which I doubt, and you’re one of the judgmental people who believes that depression isn’t a real disease and that you just have to want to cheer up to get better - then you. Are you mad at this guy who settled all his affairs beforehand, leaving no burden, other than the emotional shock the captain endured?
Fine, Mr. Judgy Pants. I BUY a boat, cheapest one I can get that can still make it to international waters. They’ll never find me (I’d still leave the note though), and I still kill myself.
I know this isn’t the reality. I’ve read stories about people who take their own lives, leaving behind underage children who depended on them. I know the emotional toll it takes on someone to lose a loved one that way is all too common. I really don’t expect you to change you’re mind about them being selfish.
But it’s really easy to feel superior to someone when they’re dead, isn’t it? It’s real easy to point at someone who by all accounts had a life way better than other people and chose to kill themselves anyway.
To future employers or anyone else who stumbles upon this, I am not considering suicide. As I mentioned before, I’m afraid of death. It has kept me up at night, thinking about the day that my vital organs cease to function and the neurons in my brain stop firing. Sometimes I wonder what the point of existence is if eventually we all lose it. But there’s a weird strength in that. I’m alive. I can’t control that either. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone. I have a family that I love very much: two loving parents who want the world for me and a brother who will need me for the rest of his life. And I like being alive. It’s great.
I just wish we’d stop shaming the people who suffered in life so much that they chose to take their own life. They are victims. Why can’t we all accept that?