Back in the day, when all the kids I knew played soccer instead of those wimp sports like baseball and football, everyone got treated to a soda after the game was over. While some kids insisted on Coke or Pepsi or Sprite or whatever the "cool" soda was, all the really smart kids ordered a Suicide. A Suicide was what we called a mixed soda with a little bit of several different sodas. Some ordered a "Coke/Orange Suicide" or a "Pepsi/Root Beer/Sprite Suicide", while others ordered a "Suicide with Everything", which mixed together a little bit of every soda at the concession stand. One assumes that the name came about because some poor schmuck thought that drinking root beer mixed with orange soda was a risky undertaking.

      The thin strip of pavement (composed of assorted pebbles, sand and tar) had marked the majority of Baxter’s way but now ended abruptly. Replacing it was a dirty type of sand, stretched in an attempt to cover the bare and ever-moist ground underneath. Layered on top of the sand were sun-baked magnolia leaves, interwoven with pine straw, creating a carpet-like ground of unusually low resistance. To the inebriated Baxter this proved a great hindrance, as his sandals slid over and under the pine straw, unearthing the ground and digging into the sand just to find a foothold. Frustrated, he kicked them off and placed his numb, soft feet onto the hot pine straw.
      Finishing off the last of his ballast, the empty bottle of Skyy slid out of his limp fingers and rolled out of his path, onto the grass, into the bushes. Ironically enough, it was his father’s money that had bought the alcohol, the land and even the pills in his pocket. ‘Lazy money,’ they called it (behind his back of course,) both before and after the high-profile graduation dinners and parties. Baxter was scheduled to graduate from Ole Miss’ College of Business this semester and take over his father’s enterprise. So it was planned. Yet it had happened that Baxter’s father decided not to be incredibly honest on his tax forms, resulting in swift proceedings that practically disowned him through his father’s debts. It took a while for this fact to settle into Baxter’s mind and fully develop, but when it did the realization was devastating. Not only would he have to work for a living and carry new responsibilities, his 2.0 GPA guaranteed that Baxter would never again experience the lifestyle he had grown to accept as a standard. In order to support his ever-growing cocaine habit and alcoholism, Baxter sold his guitar (as new,) laptop (slightly used) and finally his stereo. As word of his father’s bankruptcy spread through society, those who Baxter once considered his friends abandoned him. He could no longer afford to go out with them, stopped getting the invitations and finally they avoided his phone calls. Abandoned, he bought a bottle of sleeping pills.
      Through the thorny bushes he could see the pair of railroad tracks, his tracks. Behind them was a small clearing, reminding him of a similar plane. In the center of it stood a boy of four, holding his father’s hand. "One time this land will be yours. The trees, the field, the railroad…" …the railroad. At least he wouldn’t wake as a cripple, which had always been his worst nightmare.
      The chirping had decreased in volume and the birds in platitude as Baxter neared the train tracks. His stumpy feet pushed his torso into a somewhat stationary position and he checked his watch. Unable to read the numbers anymore, he figured now was as good a time as any. Coarsely, he thrust his soft hand into his pocket and retrieved a dozen or so white pills. Unable to cup his hand and lead it to his lips, they met somewhere in the middle, his numb tongue lapping up the bitter white pills, dropping half of them. It did not take long for the pills to develop their tiring effect, for Baxter to line his spine up with the rail, or for the train to scare away the latent birds at 5:32 that afternoon.
There was a time when I had strong feelings about suicide. It was completely beyond my understanding that someone could prefer death to life.

I'm not religious. I don't believe in any concept of an afterlife that permits consciousness and awareness after the body's demise. As such, I failed to understand how anyone could find relief in death.

"It's not," I thought to myself, "as if you're going to kill yourself and then suddenly think 'ah, that's better'". Even if nothingness was better than the current situation, there was no way you were going to be aware of the nothingness and that it was somehow better. So what was the point? Life is clearly better than death, right? Just as something is better than nothing. Right?

There we were, my strong feelings and I. My "superiority" those who thought they always had death as a way out.

My friend Pete committed suicide last April.

"Why" is not the first question people ask when you tell them your friend has killed himself. That's tactless and everybody knows it. But eventually the question is posed; when the time is right, when things can be discussed rationally.

I'm not going to tell you why. It doesn't matter, really. The easy, short response is "he was sad". The longer, real answer requires (of course) a complex analysis of Pete's life, a lot of assumption and guesswork, facts related second or third-hand, and personal details that it's just not right to tell the world at large. And, anyway, the short answer seems a lot more meaningful.

At the end of the day, Pete is dead because he was sad.

That stupid, banal, gargantuan understatement is the only way I can understand it. Because what I can't understand, what there's no possible way for me to fathom, is the depth of his sadness.

And that's why my strong feelings about suicide have evaporated. I am ignorant. I was arrogant.

At Pete's funeral his older brother Mat, my friend...my brother in all but blood, read a eulogy. He loves Pete so much. And hearing his expression of love and grief, his words of joy and pain, was the most emotionally devastating thing I've ever experienced.

I was sad, but Pete was sadder. And that's all I can know.

I have no right to judge suicide. There is nothing in my experience that has reduced me to the despair that Pete felt. The only opinion I can have, all I can say is, "right now I have no reason to kill myself". Right now at this moment, I don't. And I don't forsee it. But that's as far as I'll go.

Pete wasn't being selfish; he was sad. Pete wasn't begging for attention; he was sad. Pete wasn't being escapist; he was sad. Pete wasn't trying to hurt us; he was sad.

And now he's dead.

That's all there is to it, really.

Many poets and writers have described their suicidal feelings. Leo Tolstoy, for instance.
Tolstoy passed through a suicidal crisis before his religious conversion at about the age of 50, and described it in My Confession. It is curious that he describes himself as both happy and healthy and yet suicidal, but that is just one of the paradoxical features of depression:

"The truth lay in this – that life had no meaning for me. Every day of life, every step in it, brought me nearer to the edge of a precipice, whence I saw clearly the final ruin before me. To stop, to go back, were alike impossible; nor could I shut my eyes so as to not see the suffering that alone awaited me, the death of all in me even to annihilation. Thus I, a healthy and happy man, was brought to feel that I could live no longer, that an irresistible force was dragging me down into the grave. I do not mean that I had an intention of committing suicide. The force that drew me away from life was stronger, fuller, and concerned with far wider consequences than any mere wish; it was a force like that of my previous attachment to life, only in a contrary direction. The idea of suicide came as naturally to me as formerly bettering my life. It had so much attraction for me that I was compelled to practice a species of self-deception, in order to avoid carrying it out too hastily. I was unwilling to act hastily, only because I had determined first to clear away the confusion of my thoughts, and, once that done, I could always kill myself. I was happy, yet I hid away a cord, to avoid being tempted to hang myself by it to one of the pegs between the cupboards of my study, where I undressed alone every evening, and ceased carrying a gun because it offered too easy a way of getting rid of life. I knew not what I wanted; I was afraid of life, and yet there was something I hoped for from it."



Freud tackled the task of theorizing the explanations for suicide in Mourning and Melancholia:

So immense is the ego’s self-love, which we have come to recognise as the primal state from which instinctual life proceeds, and so vast is the amount of narcissistic libido which we see liberated in the fear that emerges as a threat to life, that we cannot conceive how the ego can consent to its own destruction. We have long known, it is true, that no neurotic harbours thoughts of suicide which he has not turned back upon himself from murderous impulses against others, but we have never been able to explain what interplay of forces can carry such a purpose through to execution. The analysis of melancholia now shows that the ego can kill itself only if, owing to the return of the object-cathexis, it can treat itself as an object – if it is able to direct against itself the hostility which relates to an object and which represents the ego’s original reaction to objects in the external world. Thus in regression from narcissistic object choice the object has, it is true, been got rid of, but it has nevertheless proved more powerful than the ego itself,. In the two most opposed situations of being most intensely in love and of suicide the ego is overwhelmed by the object, though in totally different ways.

But is it really reasonable to accept that self-love of the ego is a primal state and that suicidal thoughts always reflect murderous thoughts towards others? To find evidence to support such views we really must further examine the psychological basis of depression.


There are a lot of suicide related nodes on Everything2. I thought I'd put them all together.



People who committed suicide:

Suicide Notes:

Personal propensity towards suicide, experiences and opinions:

The Facts:

Methods of suicide:

Songs and poems about suicide:

Movies about suicide:

Books about suicide, or with suicide in them:

Help, support and advice for suicidal people:




Everything suicide

Other miscellanous 'forms' of suicide: (things with suicide in their name, etc)

What Becomes of the BrokenHearted - (reaching for death)

“A suicide is an earth-shaking event. It rocks the lives of those nearby and sends innumerable tremors through people close and distant. Yet our society quells much discussion on the subject, and those shaken have few places to turn.”

Depression is a disease much similar to AID’s or Cancer, and is even seen to some as the killer disease of the 90’s. Most, however don’t see it as such. Depression is the major cause of suicide; and yet one of the most commonly ignored, and untreated diseases in our world today. People are dying! Something has to be done.

Often depression is just pushed to the side, and becomes invisible. Maybe doctors are right in saying that depression doesn’t cause death; but we shouldn’t close our eyes to the pure, simple fact that it often does lead to death.

There is a common misconception that talking about suicide will give others the idea. This is not true! The link between depression and suicide should be brought out into the open, instead of being locked away from the publics eyes. The reality is that people deserve to know, so that they can help to prevent suicide, and depression too if possible.

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”
-Albert Camus

Suicide is the leading cause of unnatural death – of both young and old people – in today’s society. When life seems too much, to many, death seems the only option. In actuality, it shouldn’t even be considered… but we should not focus on that, and focus on helping those who feel like they have nothing left to live for.

“I see many people dying because they judge that life is not worth living.”
-Albert Camus

The Statistics and Facts:

Over 100,000 suicidal deaths are reported world wide each year, with untreated depression being the number one cause.

Common misconceptions:

    ‘People who talk about suicide won’t really do it’-
    NOT TRUE
  • Most people who threaten, or talk about suicide are serious. They feel that death is the only option, although they often don’t want to go through it. Talking about it, is reaching out for help.
    Almost everyone who commits, or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like "you'll be sorry when I'm dead" or "I can't see a way out", -- no matter how casually or jokingly said may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
    ‘People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help’-
    NOT TRUE
  • Studies of suicide victims have shown that more then half had sought medical help within six month before their deaths. Suicide is a last resort to people, when nothing else has worked to make life better, and everything gets too much for them to handle.
    ‘If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her’-
    NOT TRUE
  • Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however over-powering, does not last forever.

Teen Suicide: The latest statistics tell us that two thirds of high school students will think about killing themselves before Graduation. In an average class of thirty, four will make an attempt.

‘Somewhere in the frantic trying on of adult identities the self gets lost.’

There is a common belief that high school is the time of our lives. Although if you ask, many adults will tell you that they wouldn’t want to relive those years for anything. For many the struggle for identity and independence can be a very painful one.

Masked emotions:

People suffering from depression often become experts at hiding their emotions from friends and even family. They put on masks, sometimes even to the extent of acting too happy. And don’t take this the wrong way, more often or not the person does want help, you have to realize that they are suffering through depression. They hate being unhappy to the extent that they are, but it must also been seen how difficult asking for help can be for most people. In the case of depressed people, asking for help can be even harder than for a normal person, some don’t have the courage to do so; others just don’t know how.

Three simple keys: Love, Support and Understanding

The reason behind acts should be looked into, and not just taken for what people think is obvious, mostly the obvious isn’t the truth at all.

The key is listening, and trying to support the depressed as much as possible. I think that not knowing how slight things can effect a depressed person, most people ‘only trying to be objective’ tend to cause more harm than good.

I remember people trying so hard to understand me, but not succeeding. Sometimes this was because they hadn’t ‘been there’ themselves, but mostly they went about trying to help the wrong way, only to push me deeper into my hole of darkness.

‘Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’

Life is a truly beautiful gift, but to many it can be more of a nightmare at times than a dream. When a person feels that there is no solution to life than death, something is wrong.

Suicide is the major cause of teen deaths in the world, and without understanding, all these statistics can do is grow. Depressed people have a rock bottom self esteem, they need love, understanding, trust, support, and an ever so gentle prod of guidance and wisdom. With this combination most (not all) will never feel the need to go as far as to embrace the permanent solution to depression.

His adventures could have been amazing
His life could have been tragic
He might have tried to dig his own grave
But then they would never have known
And neither would he

Suicide is not simple. The layers of the experience and the depths to which one must plummet are unimaginable to those who have only witnessed the act from outside a frosted window. There is much more than pulling a trigger, swallowing a handful of pills or leaping out of a tenth story window. The mind enters into a realm quite different from what you are accustomed to. Before suicide, everything in the mind was geared towards life... how to survive, what to have for dinner, whether the family can afford to go to Dickey Betts World for an exciting summer vacation. Death, perpetuated by the self, changes the direction of mind, body and soul. Memories become more pronounced. The past takes on more color. Personal history becomes more profound. The future shades itself slowly towards the black.

An act of cowardice? Really that isn't it at all. Cowardice is a cartoonist representation of what cannot be understood unless you have been there. Running away from responsibilities and failures can seem like cowardice, but suicide does not feel like running away when you are in the midst of it. It feels like standing directly in front of a solid, cold steel wall and trying to pass through it. It is based in hopelessness and rooted in the belief that the only reason to live in this world, in this frame of existence, is the hope that tomorrow represents. At the point where passing through cold steel seems easier than life everything takes on a new dimension. In the suicide's perceptions, everything else is so difficult and painful that any other option to facing life is preferable.

Suicide is a disease of the mind. It sweeps over a person when their level of frustration with their life and their self becomes overwhelming. Each new day is greeted with the belief that nothing worthwhile will happen. Many things do, but the suicidal does not recognize these. A tunnel vision has developed that overrides normal sensory procedures. A warm summer day enjoyed with friends that once might have brought laughter and pleasant memories is now seen as a momentary oasis that means nothing in the greater context.

Solitude is all that remains. There are different reasons in different individuals for the downward spiral that leads to suicide. We all process the world and our integrated versions of reality differently. That makes us all unique and worthwhile. The world truly would be worth escaping if we all saw everything in the same way. Yet, in many cases the suicide feels an overwhelming loss of control that triggers a need to take total control over his or her environment and retreat into solitude where that control is most easily entertained.

June 6, 1994 is a day he certainly will never forget. For many months and even years his life, or what he mistook for his life, fell apart around him. Friends who had died, the betrayal of lovers, total dissatisfaction with his job, severe financial problems... the list kept growing. More than anything, there were parts of his life and of himself that gnawed at him and launched constant stingers at his heart. It was something he was rarely honest with himself about, which made it impossible to deal with. He could not bear it any longer. He was overwhelmed and powerless against himself. He wanted out, and so plans were made to end it all.

What happens to the individual at the point where the decision is made is dramatic. There is a difference between wanting to kill yourself, hoping to kill yourself and meaning to kill yourself. It is not done to attract attention or sympathy. The true suicidal is without hope, and so attention or sympathy are not motivations. All that matters is putting an end to the pain. The closer you get to the end, the more it all means and the more your heart tears itself into shreds. At the point of no return, whether it be an instant or hours, everything ceases to make sense.

He was successful. The combination of liquor and pills he consumed were, in the words of a poison control hotline operator "enough to kill a water buffalo." He pumped the pills and washed them down with mouthfuls of 151 rum. He laughed for the first time in months because he no longer cared about the problems that existed in his life. Eventually, he passed out. His life went black, and then his eyes opened again on a river in a world unlike anything he considered imaginable before. No words could describe the differences between that place and the place he had known.

The experience changed him. Everything that happened the night he ended his life, and the events of the following day were not easily comprehended. He studied every aspect of his death and delved deeply into those aspects that puzzled him the most. The dragon. The river. The desert of his soul. The red riders. All that he saw in death and all he experienced became part of him. He changed. He observed the world upon his return, thankful for the opportunity. He asked to return. Something he saw in the light told him it was important to do so.

To this day he remains amongst us.
He is who I am.
No regrets.
That is my story.

It is my hope that this will help anyone who has lost someone to suicide understand what it is like. There is nothing facetious about this story. Much of my writing is inspired by the experience. Reflection is more important. In this life I have found great peace and happiness and the thoughts I had then are far removed from who I am today.

Su"i*cide (?), n. [L. sui of one's self (akin to suus one's own) + caedere to slay, to kill. Cf. So, adv., Homicide.]

1.

The act of taking one's own life voluntary and intentionally; self-murder; specifically (Law), the felonious killing of one's self; the deliberate and intentional destruction of one's own life by a person of years of discretion and of sound mind.

2.

One guilty of self-murder; a felo-de- se.

3.

Ruin of one's own interests. "Intestine war, which may be justly called political suicide." V. Knox.

 

© Webster 1913

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.