I keep talking myself out of blogging about this, but then it keeps coming up.
In general I think suicide is the most selfish thing anyone can do. The impact on the lives of family members and friends is devastating and will last the rest of their lives. I think people who do it are so wrapped up in their own heads that they can't see or don't care about the consequences of their actions. Or they mean to do it. They mean to inflict pain on the people close to them. A documentary on HBO years ago characterized suicide as a final "Fuck You," and I tend to agree with that analysis.
People with young children who commit suicide are scarring those children for life. They are shaping that child's view of the surviving parent, who didn't stop the downward spiral. They are making that child feel forever unimportant; they weren't important enough to make their parent's life worth living. They are leaving their spouse in a terrible position, being forced to support their children alone, both financially and emotionally. Just selfish.
Only once in my life was I miserable enough to consider suicide. I was in my excruciating and short-lived first marriage. I had married a sociopath who quickly isolated me from my friends and family and then fed me a constant diet of lies until I had no bearings. I had no grounding and couldn't trust anything in my life. I was completely and totally off my moorings and miserable. I only thought of suicide for maybe thirty seconds, but then the next immediate thought was "fuck that, there's the bastard that's making me miserable, I should kill him." The truth is there was never any seriousness to any of those thoughts. But it made it clear to me that the solution to my problems was removing him from my life, not making a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I once read someone who said that they'd never consider suicide because they would never be able to let go of their overwhelming curiosity about what the next day would bring. I think that describes me.
Being a youngish individual I never gave a lot of thought to my own mortality. I sometimes get into a small panic thinking about losing someone I love, but my death rarely occurred to me. Since Emma came it's much different. While I think suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do, I find that I'm selfish in a polar opposite way now. I want to live, I want very badly to live. I don't want to miss seeing Emma grow up. I don't want Emma to have to grow up without her Mommy. Please, Dear God, let me live a full life!
Before you condemn me for having no compassion and being closed minded on the issue of suicide, I'd like to say that I feel a little differently about end-of-life decisions for the terminally ill. If someone is in great physical pain and wasting away and the end is near then I certainly don't begrudge them the decision to end it on their own terms. But even then they should have some compassion for their family and those that love them. Using a gun to blow yourself away in your own home is not a compassionate choice for ending it, even if you do have terminal cancer. Someone has to find you and someone has to clean up the mess. And then your family has to live with the memories of what happened in that room.
Three of my grandparents died within two and a half months of each other. Bea Bea and Pa Paw died within two weeks of each other. All three of them made some sort of decision that ended it when they were ready to go. Pop had terminal cancer and was in hospice care and when he was close enough to the end he just stopped eating. Bea Bea was in the end-stage of diabetes and chose not to go on dialysis because being hooked to a machine made her feel completely dehumanized. I believe she was also depressed. She struggled with the idea that making that choice was essentially committing suicide, but after talking with her minister and her godly friends she was assured that it wasn't suicide. It was a natural progression of her life and the consequences of her disease. Pa Paw was suffering from dementia for two years following a stroke. He was a shadow of the man he had been and was prone to horrifying and surreal dreams, which he had difficulty seperating from reality. I believe he suffered greatly those last two years, trapped in a broken mind. When he learned that Bea Bea was gone, he too stopped eating. The nurses tried to make him eat but he didn't want to and as a consequence he aspirated food into his lungs. He developed pneumonia and died from that. All three of these people lived long full lives and had those lives extended by medical intervention more than once. I begrudge none of them their final choice. I watched each one suffer and was relieved for each of them when they found their peace.
So when I hear the tune "Suicide is Painless" I think that sentiment is the biggest lie ever. Someone attempting suicide might find a way that is painless to them, but there will be heaps of pain for those left behind.