How many times have you thought about killing yourself? One, two, ten? Every single day? It must have crossed your mind at some point. Wishing you were dead or had never been born, are both suicidal thoughts by any other name. So, if you said you’ve never once attempted suicide or at least thought about it— you’re lying to yourself. Suffering, pain, and doubt were the first things many of us learned; so why wouldn’t we at some point want to wish ourselves dead? With all the pressures in life and sundry setbacks along the way, for many, “checking out” a little earlier than scheduled seems like a practical alternative.
Many have convinced themselves that there are no rainbows left in the sky, and the greener grass on the other side does not exist. Others lost someone so close it seemed pointless to go on without them. Regrettably, everything that has been cited is reason enough for some to end their life. But wait, there is one more: the ultimate and final gotcha. Their shift was done; it was time for someone else to take over. Some will read this and know what I mean.
I have had my fair share of suicides in my life: distant relatives, friends, and acquaintances. One hit too close to home: the death of my sister. It was very painful and came without warning, and I learned the hard way about suicide first hand. I recently turned sixty and at a point in life when people around my age group are dropping like flies. Some of them were sick and dying, and the rest are buying Centrum Silver by the case to prolong the inevitable. But suicide, that’s a whole new ballgame.
I used to believe suicide was a coward’s way out, and others continue to share that sentiment. My sister’s death put me on a path of a deeper understanding, and I hope to shed light on this touchy subject.
I thought the odds were beaten and deceived myself into thinking lightning never strikes twice, but sadly it struck again; this time, it was my niece. If I had enough cynical presence of mind, I would have bought a lottery ticket. The truth is, I would have sawed off my arm with a dull blade to have been able to talk them out of it. But, in reality, and as hell-bent as they were, there were no blades dull enough to stop them, and alas, I don’t own a time machine.
Most will leave a dramatic note or sometimes a voice recording for loved ones. In my sister’s case, she wrote three letters. One for whoever found her (she went to a nearby lake and shot herself in the chest). The second was for the police, exonerating her spouse for having anything to do with it. The third was to her husband that included a lot of crap —most of it lies. “I’ll always love you,”—she didn’t. “I didn’t mean to do this,”—yes, you did. “Take care of the kids,”—he did not. She left behind a little girl, five, and a boy, seven. Photos of them surrounded her body, and some lay in her lap. I suppose she thought the world would be better off without her, when in fact, it isn’t. Whatever pain she suffered was over in an instant, for the rest of us, it lingers for a lifetime, and at that moment when she blew her heart to smithereens, a piece of mine went with it. I miss her every day.
In death, and I suppose other emotional trauma, the experts say most experience five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When there is a suicide, I believe the first three come all at once, and bargaining doesn’t even count. How could it? And last on the list is acceptance. That’s a toughie.
Some have questioned the title, Suicide by Death. At first, I thought it was cute —sort of an artsy thing, but in the back of my mind, I knew what it meant. For anyone who saw the movie Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, near the end Mr. Spock rescues the ship but sacrifices his life. Captain Kirk runs to Spock to save him and tries to open a fuel chamber. Dr. McCoy, “Bones,” said it would flood the compartment with radiation, and he and Scotty restrained the captain. Kirk struggled to free himself and murmured, “He’ll die.” Scotty replied in his thick, Scottish accent, said, “Sir, he’s dead already.”
He wasn’t dead yet and had enough time to share a personal moment with Kirk, but the fact remained that Spock was on his way out; death only needed to catch up.
Folks rarely pick up a gun and blow their brains out on a whim. It takes an amount of planning. And so it begins. You have already committed suicide in your mind; it simply has to be followed up with a bullet, noose, jump off a skyscraper or whatever; then death’s bitter door swings wide open and welcomes you.
It is a safe bet that almost everyone has had to deal with suicide in their lives, and if you haven’t, you’ll just have to wait your turn.
My book, Suicide by Death, is not intended to be a self-help guide, though it might be. It is a fictional novel based on true events in and around my life and the lives of others. The story and its characters are broken and jagged, the language is raw, but it is real. Heck, darn and oh shoot, don’t seem to have the same punch as their crude counterparts, so if you are offended, try to get over it; the message is far greater than the language.