Friday, August 29, 2014

"Suicide - An Opposing (Meaning A Not Entirely Negative) Perspective"

Do you want people to hate you?


Then why are you writing this?

Because nobody else did. 

(As far as I know.)

These thoughts fluttered to mind following the surprisingly affecting Robin Williams announcement.  They have been floating around for some time.  But before my blog, I had no opportunity to communicate them, and before the announcement, no compelling impulse to take the risk.

Understating for no reason beyond emotional squeamishness, suicide is a serious matter.  I read recently that, annually, thirty thousand people in this country take their own lives.  For one perspective, that’s less than one tenth of one percent.  From another, it’s a small city.

Setting aside the permanency of the decision – there is no “do-over” for “dead” – and the tragic devastation it leaves behind, what comes to mind is that both religion and the law declare suicide a punishable offense.  What the exact legal punishment is, I have never bothered to investigate.  (There are many jokes that come to mind, but I am not entirely in the mood.  Okay, one.  “Here’s your new cellmate.”  “What’s he in for?”  “Suicide.”  “Well at least he’ll be quiet.”)

What confuses me is why these legal and theistical proscriptions exist against an action the overwhelming majority of us are not seriously contemplating?  Usually laws and biblical codes are constructed to keep people from engaging in actions they might otherwise – meaning barring those obstacles – consider.

“I’m going to kill that person.”

RELIGION:  "You'll burn in hell!"

LAW:  “You will be injected with a pharmaceutical cocktail that has been known to be agonizingly ineffective.”

“Okay then I won’t.”

You don’t want those things to happen to you, so you decide not to kill.  (Except for those actual killers willing to roll the dice on both the botched cocktail and hell.)

Most people – I mean, we have our darker interludes – but an overwhelming 99.99 per cent of us would consider self-absentification totally unimaginable.  And not just we would not knock ourselves off, we cannot imagine any one else knocking themselves off either.

Look how many reasons it took to be at least partially comfortable with what happened.

Reasons Robin Williams Committed Suicide:

“He had money problems.”

“He had addiction issues.”

“He was bipolar.”

“His career was slowing down.”

“He was suffering post-heart surgery depression.”

“He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.”

Six explanations.  (There may have been others I have not heard about.)  Okay.  Six reasons, piling on, to make him determine that “This is my stop.” 

Six is a lot of reasons.  I mean, it’s not one reason.  One reason is “No way, Jose.”  But six reasons – we pretty much almost get it.  Six reasons is understandable, right?


There is therapy. 

There are drugs.

There is talking to a friend.

There is looking at your kids. 

There is speaking to a religious person.

There is individual prayer.

There is things may look bad today, but (SUNG BRASSILLY) “The sun will come out… tomorrow…”

With all those available alternatives…

How could he do that? 

How can anyone do that?  (Though, contradictorily, as mentioned, there are religious laws and civil proscriptions indicating an enthusiasm that is required to be thwarted.  Making suicide a punishable offense seemingly very few people are considering.  And yet, the authorities seem worried about it.)

Six reason to help explain why Robin Williams made such an unimaginable decision.

Let me humbly propose a seventh.  Which I have not heard mentioned, perhaps because in the most optimistic country on earth we find it too unfathomable to possibly contemplate. 

We have heard:

Suicide is a crime.

Suicide is a sin.

Suicide is an illness.

Suicide is a mistake.

But what about – just as a consideration, to complete the list though as an outside possibility especially in a liberty-revering country like our own…

Suicide is a


Freely selected




But personally decided upon…


They wanted to go and took such actions that would assure that they would.

Excruciatingly sad – Yes.

But why unimaginable?


Poldwigh said...

I believe your assertion is imaginable, not just by you but by many. With anywhere from 82 to 108 people making that choice every day, it doesn't take a whole lot to buy into a variety of reasons. Your assertion that suicide is 'misguided' however, well, I'd argue against that - it doesn't fit all circumstances. 'Terrible' is another word that I'd argue against, cuz it ain't universally true. 4 states have legalized what's labeled as 'death with dignity' - assisted suicide. My state is one of them. I think that in itself validates the majority of your assertion and nullifies the use of the term, 'misguided.' But that's not the topic, I know.

Rebecca said...

When I heard Robin Williams had killed himself, I was sad, but not only about his death. Even more, I think, I was sad for the torment he experienced that led him to that point.

All of those reasons were not the real reason...except one. Clinical depression is not caused by external factors. It can come on for no reason whatsoever. And if you are lucky enough to survive it, it can go away. When you add challenging external circumstances TO that, it's like feeding it. It gets bigger, and stronger.

When Robin Williams died, there was an outpouring of advice from everyone. Please, they said, get help. You are not alone. Talk to anyone, call the suicide hotline. Until finally, someone called bullshit.

Robin Williams had been in therapy of one kind or another for years. He had been in rehab. He had had the benefit of professional care for a very long time. This person pointed out, that's HOW he got to 63 years old. There are a whole lot of people who don't make it anywhere near that age, some who don't even make it out of their teens.

So we can't say, don't be like him. He did what he was supposed to do, and he did it as long as he could. And he had a successful career, brought joy to millions of people. But he finally reached a point where he could not bear to live with the darkness inside of him. So, yes, he made a choice.

It's still a shame, because if you can just get through it, it's possible to come out the other side...until it's time to fight again. But there will almost always be another fight. And maybe, at 63, he just didn't feel like he could fight anymore. Maybe he just wanted peace. If so, he was certainly entitled to it.