Saturday, August 4, 2007


In case you missed it before, let me recap my feelings about suicide. Suicide is a fundamental right of being human and it's a personal choice. Just as some people choose to live, others find that their most appropriate option in life is to leave it behind. Unless you've been there, it's easy to underestimate exactly how much pain has to be accumulated in a person's life to make leaving more appealing than staying.

There are many, many people who believe it is their duty to do anything--anything--to stop another person from committing suicide. I say, why is it anyone's business? Do a Web search on "suicide prevention" or "suicide support" and you'll see what I mean. Where does this attitude come from that deems it appropriate to "save" someone from suicide? Why is there an arrogant assumption that only people who are unfit to think for themselves would consider suicide? They say things like, Life is a gift not to be wasted. Life is not a gift; it is biological happenstance and we do what we can for as long as we can once we get here. Still the words keep coming: Hang on, there's hope, you just need to see another day, things will look better when you're not so emotional, you just need to talk about it, blah, blah, blah. Talk about it? In this country, you'll actually get hauled away by the police if you so much as discuss the possibility of ending your own life (trust me on this).

People who feel adamant about interrupting the life/death path of another person are asking the wrong questions. and pursuing the wrong answer. The issue isn't about what you're doing to stop someone from committing suicide; the issue is this: What are you doing to help eliminate the intolerable pain and suffering from the life of the person who is contemplating suicide? Suicide isn't about death nearly as much as it is about pain and stopping pain.

It is cruel to stop someone from committing suicide when in the end that action will only serve to make you feel better but without easing the horrible burden of suffering of the person who wishes to die. Why don't people get this? Why does anyone feel they have the right to stop a suicide when they haven't done much, if anything at all, to alleviate the pain that brought on the desire to die?

I truly, passionately believe that if you can't help me slog through Hell, then you haven't paid the price of admission to discuss my final options. Screw you if you think you do. I know what it's like to feel abandonment. I know what it's like to realize that at the most painful, godawful time in your life, you are going down that path alone...very alone (see link). Don't act like you've been with me all along when you really just jumped out of the bushes at the last turn.

So, here's the irony. I've started to receive newsletters via email from a suicide prevention and support organization. Now, I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet and I certainly have visited my share of message boards and made extensive Google searches on topics of a personal nature. Never, ever have I compromised my privacy by doing anything under my real name. Never. Imagine my surprise, then, to find these e-newsletters coming to my work email address.

I am not a detective, but I can connect very obvious dots. In this case, I think it's safe to conclude that someone else signed me up for this "help." Un-fucking-believable. My immediate reaction is to be profoundly offended and outraged by the presumptuous, arrogant attitude of the person who, having taken stock of my deficits, thought they should "suggest" I need help. If I knew who this person was, I would say, "Where were you a year ago when I was seriously grasping for a lifeline? Where were you 18 months ago when I was actively planning my own death? Why do you think it's OK to imply I need help, yet you are such a coward, rather than just ask if I'm OK, you sign me up for something behind my back? Why can't you sit down, present your suggestion, and discuss it with me? Why do you think it's OK to comment on my life via anonymous suggestions? What's coming to my inbox next, Weight Watcher's coupons?"

After my initial outrage, I realized that irony snakes throughout this situation. Sending this newsletter to me is like buying a rosary for a monkey. It's poorly thought out and ultimately, a wasted effort. I'd have to say that I'm the last person who is open to the concept of "suicide aversion." No, no, no. I'm the woman who believes you get to choose how you die, just as you get to make all of the other big decisions that come with being human.

Both my husband and my therapist asked me if I really mean it that I wouldn't stop another person from committing suicide. My husband took it a little further and said, "What if it was someone you loved?" Well, if it were someone I loved, I would talk it over with them to make sure they understood the implications of the decision. If that person was really adamant about suicide and there was no way for me to provide comfort, then yes, I would respect his or her decision and step away. I would not, however, send anonymous email suggesting that the person needs an intervention.

I cannot respect the suggestions of a person who not only doesn't respect my right to choose, but who also can't look me in the eye or tell me to my face that they think my emotional health is somehow theirs to comment upon. This is not a case of someone showing concern or trying to be a friend. It's a case of someone blatantly passing judgment on me in a complex situation they are not equipped to understand.

Screw that.


CharleyS said...

I hear you. People can be really presumptuous. Maybe some of them just want to help but don't know how. I personally think that is better than indifference, and it is a comfort to know someone is at least paying attention.

The pain sucks. I get better at living with it. I have people who depend on me.

As a kid I always thought it was really stupid that people prayed for silly things like love or money. I prayed for wisdom.

Wisdom. I truly believe the pain and fire I've walked through have brought me more than years of schooling ever could. Although I might spell better.

You have a wonderful sense of humor and imagery, and a very entertaining style of writing.

I hope you keep it up because I honestly enjoy it.

"Sending this newsletter to me is like buying a rosary for a monkey." ... LMAO

May Voirrey said...

Presumptuous! That's the word I was looking for but couldn't quite fly-fish out of my brain.

My therapist also felt that this incident was someone's expression of concern, but I still can't shake the feeling that it was meant as a criticism and not a show of support.

Charley, wisdom is good. I, too, want to be wise and have insight, and frankly, I often achieve this more than most people. Nietzsche was right. That which does not kill me makes me stronger. Or a little more aware, anyway.

Don't worry about the spelling. It's incidental and easily corrected by binary code. Life experience and learning from it, well, I hope no software can ever replace that.