The Enemy of the Good (eideteker) wrote,
The Enemy of the Good

On Suicide, from MetaFilter

I left a comment in a thread on MetaTalk about another thread on MetaFilter. The MeFi thread was about the tendency of suicides (particularly jumpers) to remove their shoes before, ostensibly, entering the afterlife. How human an action that is, how it unites us on some baser level.

Anyway, here's teh commant:
If I ever commit suicide, it will be a thought-provoking and mind-blowing piece of performance art. No, I am no joking. Nor am I considering it any time soon. Too much stuff yet to do!

I've never been suicidal (I get homicidal urges instead... but more like the "I crush your head" kind than detailed plots of trenchcoated revenge). But I have been the suicide watch for a friend or two. I'm glad I was there for them, but I wouldn't want to be there again. Suicide's an incredibly heavy decision to make, and one which has never added up as an equation for me. I mean, I can always just walk the earth helping people and having adventures like Jules from Pulp Fiction talked about, right? Even if I've got nothing left in life, there's a whole world out there.

Maybe some day, I'll make this whole comedy thing work. And maybe I'll finally be able to put all my thoughts about suicide (not suicidal thoughts!) into a routine that makes people laugh. Something that people watch when they're in a suicidal ambivalence that says, "Hey, it's bad, but think about all the stuff you'd be missing." Or something better than that that I haven't thought of yet. I'd like to think that this is the underlying purpose of comedy; it's certainly there behind every one of my jokey comments on this site. Lighten the burden a little bit, say: "yeah, we're all in it, up to our ankles or worse," and generally reflect that every coin has two sides. People are still going to commit suicide. Heck, in Futurama, they have streetcorner booths for it. As we move towards greater personal freedom, that's a freedom we're going to maintain (expand?). But the goal is to make it so people never feel they have to commit suicide.

Humanity is a process. It is a process of gradually freeing ourselves from a purely reactive, instinctual level of living to exist in a more intentional, thoughtful decision-making. Romantics call this "controlling our own destiny." As it's a process, we'll likely never get all the way there. At the base of it, we remain chemical reactions—albeit of increasing complexity. All of us wrestle with control: over our life's direction, over our baser urges, over our very nature. And, in essence, this is what many suicides are about. The organism asserting its right to secede from the superorganism of humanity. To defeat its own purpose as a cog in the reproductive cycle. This may manifest as a message to one's parents that they can't control you; but underneath, or on another level if you prefer, the message is the same: I am aborting my own program, in defiance of every natural instinct of self-preservation. But—and this is why I've never realistically engaged in suicidal ideation—the "joke" is on them, because the decision is still born of the same organic programming that they're wrestling with (known to us as instinct, family, society, etc.). So it's a false sense of control. And sadly ironic for those who do it because they feel they have no choice. They have made a choice, within the bounds of their organic programming. That may not seem like a choice; I did it because I am a chemical reaction obeying physical laws. But it's the only kind of choice we have.

This is my long-winded and philosophical (moar liek sophistry amirite?) way of saying to anyone who is feeling suicidal because they're out of options, because they have no other choice: You do have a choice. Unlike many, I don't think of suicide itself as a bad thing. But I do think it's a bad thing to make a choice without evaluating all the data, or to make a choice out of a desperate feeling that one has no choices. So if you're going to do it, think about why you're going to do it, and be honest with yourself. This is our greatest asset as humans: our ability to think. Our second greatest asset (both born out of and given birth to the first) is communication. Reach out to the people in your life, and ask them to evaluate your decision. Have them check your emotional math, see if you've missed anything. If you're going to commit suicide, do it from conviction, not ambivalence. And before you go, ask yourself: Is there any way my life could be used to help ease the pain of others?

Which is why when I die, I hope it's entertaining or thought-provoking. I'd love to leave a real headscratcher for the ages. Wouldn't we all like to die as we lived?

It's not "right" and it's not exact, but it pretty well encapsulates my thoughts on suicide, preserved for the ages (at least until the Russians destroy/sell/'reeducate' LJ). The gist is, "Don't do it, unless you're sure (and you're really really sure that you're sure)."

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