Suicide Isn’t the Problem

Credit: Matt Calder

Credit: Matt Calder

“Suicide, I’ve already died, you’re just the funeral I’ve been waiting for.”
– Metallica, Cyanide

As one of the souls both unfortunate enough to be cursed with suicidal tendencies (the affliction, not the band) and fortunate enough to be blessed with wonderful friends who regrettably share my darker inclinations, I once again find myself talking about suicide. It’s okay, I’ll happily accept this responsibility if I can make a difference in someone’s life. But I don’t want to talk about the actual act, or the desire to engage in it. I want to talk about the real issue, the elephant in the room that no one ever wants to address: how people get into a position of wanting to take their own life in the first place.

Why? Because suicide isn’t a problem. It isn’t a philosophy, and it sure as hell isn’t a random affliction that pounces on unsuspecting prey. It’s a tactic, an approach, a (final) solution. Block the symptom, and the problem is still there. I’m here to talk about the problem.

Human beings have an incredibly strong survival instinct. How else could such a slow, weak, and fragile species of shaved primate manage to not only survive, but flourish, in every environment imaginable, to the point where humankind has become the unrivaled global apex predator? While this instinct is no longer quite as necessary in a world where vast swaths of people have all but conquered unnatural death, it still remains ingrained in our psyches. For someone to go so far as to fight directly against their strongest, most basic instinct, you know something serious is wrong. And usually, it’s something that’s been wrong for a very long time. [Read more…]

I Am Pro-Suicide

CJ

It’s a delicate subject, but after the passing of a dear friend by his own hand, I feel I have to say something. Too many have suffered in silence and indignity, so I must speak: I am pro-suicide. No, I’m not talking about the legal rights people have to do with their bodies however they see fit. I’m talking about the decision itself.

For almost my entire adult life, I was suicidal. Still am sometimes. It isn’t something that ever really leaves for good. Some circumstances do change. Every great life event that would have caused me to abandon this world (the last of which being far more recent than I’d ever care to admit) never transpired. One circumstance that hasn’t changed has been myself. I am still, at my core, the same person I always was; with all the misunderstanding, brilliance, inability, exuberance, despair, and terrifying solitude that comes with the package. I know what it’s like to struggle on with a smile on my face, when everything inside screams the opposite. I know loneliness. I know despair. I know futility. And I know what it’s like to continue on in pain, with no conceivable way of bringing it to an end.

Too often, through an inability (or unwillingness) to let go of the illusion of control over the lives of others, the living bully and demonize the dead. One common accusation I hear is that the suicidal are selfish, acting without considering what pain their passing might visit on others. While there’s no avoiding the fact that dying will profoundly affect many people, to call taking one’s life “selfish” is itself one of the most selfish ways of viewing human life. Each of us only has one precious life. One. It is ours to deal with as we see fit. Truly, it’s all we have. To therefore suggest that we owe any part of our life to anyone else, that our life is not our own because others’ lives may be affected in some way, is supremely arrogant and dismissive of the humanity of others. [Read more…]

War Always Comes Home

Police-sniper_600

You can’t assemble a totalitarian war machine and expect it to never come home. Sooner or later, all those military-grade weapons end up in your own back yard. Pointed at you.

Over the last several decades, we’ve seen the rise of militarized law enforcement. From no-knock raids to Ferguson under armed occupation, America is beginning to look a lot less like the peaceful land of the free and more like a land where only the brave dare venture. Even sleepy little towns in New Hampshire are getting armored assault vehicles, despite hundreds taking to the streets in protest. Weapons of war are in our streets, and they’re here to stay.

Many ardent critics of America’s transition into the land of checkpoints and armored personnel carriers supported military interventions and occupations abroad. The argument goes, fight them there so they don’t come here. Heavily-armed patrols and universal inspections are easier to tolerate when they aren’t in your back yard, especially when accompanied by the expectation that they will never, ever, happen at home.

As it turns out, that expectation was foolish. The war has come home. To begin with, America’s civilian law enforcement increasingly benefits from tactics, training, and close ties with its military. Train cops with Navy Seals and give them a “war” on drugs to fight, and it’s hardly surprising when officers begin to view the people more like enemy combatants than civilians. With dispositions and training more suited to fighting a war than keeping the peace, it’s easy to see how an otherwise peacefully-solved conflicts could escalate into violence and death. [Read more…]

The Burning Chasm

chasm

There’s a hole inside the heart, deeper than any a bullet can make; a never-ending chasm of longing that stays with you all of your days.

When it appeared is anyone’s guess. Maybe your mommy never loved you enough. Maybe your brain turned out a little different from everyone else’s. Or maybe it grew with you in the womb. That’s probably it… nothing else makes any damn sense.

As a kid it never bothered anyone. Your parents thought it was a phase, a momentary bout of childish difficulty. You thought it was just part of life. Until you noticed no one else was like that. Yeah, that phase you went through? It’s still there. You never really did get through it. You just started hiding it.

Phase two: the teenage years, when every bit of contrarian culture seems to be that missing answer. The angsty music, the brooding clothes, the tumultuous and exhausting relationships. That one time you found true love. It was over soon enough. Looking back it all seems silly and immature. So you dismissed that petty hole in your heart and grew up.

But guess what? That hole was still there. Except it turned into a chasm while you weren’t looking.

Now you have no time to deal with it. You’re trying to live a normal, serious, productive life. Get a good job, get married, have kids, the whole bliss package deal. Only that empty chasm won’t let you. Work fails to excite you, like it fails to excite the whole rest of the world. Only with you, the boredom’s fatal. Your mind’s found your perfect life partner, only your heart sabotages the whole operation. Can’t let go of the love of your youth. Which obviously wasn’t “the one,” but still somehow managed to fight that emptiness off like nothing before, and no one since. You’d like to forget and start anew. But that chasm won’t let you. [Read more…]

“I Can’t Do It”

I can't

It happens. Sometimes you reach a point where you just can’t keep going anymore.

We all find that moment in our lives where we’ve hit our limits, whether it’s a seemingly impossible work task, a hopeless family situation, or a physical incapacity. Sometimes it’s even worse. Sometimes nothing is wrong but nothing is right. Life is a living hell for no apparent reason, and therefore no apparent cure exists.

And we know we should continue. We know we must. We just can’t anymore.

I can’t tell you how it’s going to turn out. I can’t reassure you that everything will be fine, that you’ll succeed, that all your fears are false. They are grounded in prudence and reality, after all.

No, what I will tell you is this: Everyone who has ever accomplished anything great, changed themselves, and changed the world, everyone went through this exact same feeling. Everyone thought they couldn’t go on, but in the end triumphed. No great achievement has ever transpired without achieving the impossible.

So keep on going. What have you got to lose? Who’re you kidding, you’ve already lost everything. What have you got to gain? Everything.

Choose everything.