Friday, June 08, 2018

"And all the news is full of deaths..."

Suicide is the most selfish act imaginable.  How do you leave a note to your teenage daughter explaining what you have done that can't be undone?  How do you explain away the obvious:  that what was most important to you was yourself, and your death?  How do you explain that, in the end, you were the center of the world, the universe, and that without you, it will not go on?

Because how else could you convince yourself the hearts and souls of those who love you mean nothing, and you choose death?

I'm sure some tumult in the soul drives people to suicide, but this is not a grand Romantic gesture, the last act of defiance, taking control of the world by refusing your place in it.  This is selfishness:  pure and simple.  This is an act of ego.  This is the final proof that no one matters more than you do, in a world where making everyone else matter but you is the ultimate sin.  Suicide is the final pronouncement of the importance of being first of all and more important than all.  It is the supreme arrogance:  that when I am gone, the world goes with me; that those left behind won't be left behind, because I won't be there to feel their agony, their loss, their horror and sadness.  It won't matter, because all that matters is me.  But no one is an island:

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

We are all involved in these deaths, because we are all diminished by them.  Something failed, that these people failed at life, at the worthiness of existence.  Or that they saw no hope in depression, no redemption in suffering, no choice but to end it.  Did one lead to the other?  Probably.  We say mass shooters inspire more mass shootings; why shouldn't celebrity suicides inspire more suicides?  And we are all the lesser for it.  If you strive to be last of all and servant of all, what servant rejoices at the suicide of his master?  What service is there in abiding self-death?

And what of those left behind?  What, in this case, of the daughters?  What can we, the living, do for them?  What could we have done for their parents?

"Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde."  Whether we think we are, or not.


  1. Now, that's a forbidden thought, that people might have some kind of moral obligation to other people.

    I am ever more convinced that a huge part of the common received wisdom of the supposed educated, progressive segment of the population is wrong. The idea that there is something good about suicide, so beloved of utilitarians and writers of the cheaper forms of fiction and show biz, is far more fraught than they want to make it. I think there is something fascistic about the enthusiasm for suicide frequently found among the alleged left. Another piece of evidence that their left isn't really that far from the right.

    And that's not to get to the effect it can have on those who find the body or have to deal with it or those who knew the person and feel they failed to pick up on clues.

  2. I knew someone in college who, I happened to learn about a year later, had committed suicide. It haunted me for decades.

    A family member? I'd never get past it. We bear each other's burdens, whether we think so or not.