My friend went to a funeral the other day. His friend committed suicide. Apparently he was transporting a pound of methamphetamine in his car, and got pulled over driving down Highway 80 in Nevada. Because he was on probation, and probably lots of drugs, he decided to run from the cops. After a high-speed chase the cops finally got him to stop. Rather than being arrested, he just shot himself. He would have rather died than gone to prison. Was suicide a legitimate option in a case like that? I don't think so.

Another story. Someone told me how one time in his hometown a flood destroyed the local liquor store. All the merchandise that wasn't destroyed in the flood was washed out into the streets. People came and looted any bottles of alcohol they found laying around. The owner of the store was devastated. After the flood destroyed his business he was left with nothing. He did not have flood insurance for his business. His entire life's savings had apparently been put into that store. He was so devastated by the loss that he shot himself. He would have rather died than deal with the loss and try to start over. Do you think suicide was a legitimate option in a case like this?

As far as I am concerned, committing suicide in order to avoid dealing with a situation, no matter how bleak the situation, is never a legitimate option. The circumstances in the stories above were without a doubt very grim. I can see how extremely tragic circumstances like those could make suicide look like a very appealing option. However, you might forget that when you choose that option there is absolutely no going back. The person in the first story would have gone to prison, but he would have gotten out eventually. He could have started over. The liquor store owner lost everything he had and most likely would have faced many hardships, but he might have been able to rebuild his business or maybe start a new business. You cannot let the current dire situation cloud your judgement and cause you to make such a drastic, irrevocable decision.

Anything can be a legitimate option. But, IMNSHO, it is never the only option. You can always:

1. Just continue living

Yes, this is an option. Whatever happened, most people who matter will have forgotten about it within a few months, and if they don't forget about it, do you really care to know them anyway?

2. Run to <insert favorite fugitive country here>

This is an especially good option if you are running from the law, but is by no means restricted to that. Sometimes, you just can't bear to hang out with your loser friends one more day. So, make a nice mystery out of it. Pack up your stuff in the middle of the night, or better yet, take only a small overnight bag, and hightail it over the border.

If you are not a fugitive, moving a few states over may be sufficient, but this does not make you immune to secret investigators or annoying phone calls from your mother.

3. Fake your own death (my favorite)

This takes a little more planning than just running away, but can be oh so much more rewarding. You just can't compare to the feeling of freedom you get when you realize that everyone who made you miserable or made your life unlivable now thinks you are dead. Going to your own funeral can be dangerous to your cover, but how can you skip a thing like that?

I knew a man who committed suicide. This is, unfortunately, a true story. This account is the way I remember it though I admit that I didn't get all the details.

A large group of my friends met often at one couple's house. This ended when the couple broke up. At the time I didn't know why they'd split up though at least one of the reasons became clear later. After the split, the man got at least partial custody of their five or six year old son. To help pay the mortgage he had rented out one of the rooms in his house.

One day, his roommate found his son crying after a small household accident but he was nowhere to be found. Knocking on the bedroom door and hearing nothing, the roommate opened the door and saw him attempting some form of sexual relations with the six year old girl from next door.

The severely freaked out roommate told him that he was going to move out immediately and call Child Protective Services. The man asked his roommate to reconsider calling CPS and promised to contact a spiritual advisor about dealing with the issue. The roommate said that he wanted to talk to the advisor, too, to verify compliance.

The man called his advisor, a friend regarded highly in our group, and asked that everything he said be protected as if said in a confessional. After obtaining the promise, he told the story of how he was in love with the neighbor girl and that he'd always been attracted to young girls. He didn't think he was doing anything wrong though he did know that society would condemn him for it. He promised to end the liaison. His confidant also talked to the roommate to confirm the story.

His confidant, after grappling with the issue for several days and trying to balance the promise of privacy with the need to protect the community (there were families with small girls in our social group), came to the reluctant conclusion that CPS had to be called, informed the man of the decision, then attempted to reach the son's mother to come pick him up.

The next morning, the son looked for his dad and found him in the garage in a running car. He couldn't wake up his dad and called for help. The man died later in the hospital.

The traumas and travesties of this event (in no particular order):

  • The man is dead.
  • The son has no father.
  • The son found his father dying.
  • The son knows his father killed himself.
  • The son could have died, too, if the fumes had overcome him in the garage.
  • The man abused the girl next door.
  • The girl probably underwent a lot of damaging therapy to prevent worse damage from the abuse.
  • The man abused the trust of his confidant and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.
  • The confidant feels responsible for instigating the suicide.
  • The man abused the trust of his roommate and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.
  • The roommate feels responsible for instigating the suicide.
  • The man left his son, neighbors, parents, and friends with a lot of grief, embarrassment, and rage.

Had the suicide not been attempted or if it had failed there would have been some differences.

This alone would be better:

  • The man would not have been dead (unless he was killed in prison, a common fate for offenders tagged as short-eyes).

These might be better only if the man did not attempt suicide:

  • The son would not have found his father dying.
  • The son would not have risked dying in the garage.
  • The confidant would not feel responsible for instigating the suicide attempt.
  • The roommate would not feel responsible for instigating the suicide attempt.

These would have been the same:

  • The man abused the girl next door.
  • The girl probably underwent a lot of damaging therapy to prevent worse damage from the abuse.
  • The man abused the trust of his confidant and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.
  • The man abused the trust of his roommate and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.

These might be worse:

  • The son would have no available father if he went to jail.
  • The son knows his father tried to kill himself (if he had attempted suicide).

This would have been a lot worse:

  • The girl and her family would have been put through a criminal investigation with lots of experts with a lot more lingering effects than with the rapid culmination with the man's suicide.
  • The man's son, neighbors, parents, and friends would have experienced a lot more grief, embarrassment, and rage.

All things considered and given the severity of his situation, suicide was probably his best option -- not a good option, just the best of a bunch of bad ones.

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