the most interesting, amazing people Ive ever met, the ones who influenced and shaped the universe itself, are the ones that felt too much and lived through it. Iain S. Thomas, The Light from Frozen Graves
And while it may feel like youre
in a stadium, in front of a crowd
screaming that you must die, there
are voices in that crowd, if you listen
closely, screaming for you to live.
Iain S. Thomas, The Roar of the World
If youre strong enough to take that
blade and draw it across your skin.
If youre strong enough to take those
pills and swallow them when no ones home.
If youre strong enough to tie that
rope and hang it from the ceiling fan.
If youre strong enough to jump off
that bridge, my friend.
You are strong enough to live.
Iain S. Thomas, The Things I wouldve Said
Suicide and darkness have long plagued the ultra-creative. Their self-destructive vices and passion for excess follow them like a trail of empty bottles, and often beg the chicken-or-egg question. Is it their sadness that makes them so brilliantly creative, or does their brilliance and ability to create induce their sadness? Alix Strauss, Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous & the Notorious
Its an old story youve heard over and over. My life is coming to an end. Everything is in my head now. My timing is off. In the last two years Ive had at least ten therapists and all those shock treatments. Suicide is a viable alternative for me instead of going to an institution. I dont want an audience. I dont want anyone to see me slip into the water. Spalding Grays last journal entry before committing suicide; it was written to his wife Kathie
I only see through loss, death, and my right eye (my left eye is very impaired). I only start to see the color of everything, the intensity of everything when Im leaving. Spalding Gray, in Kate Millers GRAY NOISE: Walking With the Talking Man in New York in io magazine (Spalding Gray killed himself in early 2004)
It has always seemed ghoulish to me to speculate as to the motives behind a suicide, particularly so in attempts to correlate the act with an output of major creative work. Suicide can be either a confession of defeat or a hymn of triumph, an admission of ones inability to confront the pitilessness of life or a defiant refusal to tolerate it, a self-erasure or a self-definition, but it is always a private act, a final Mind-your-own-damn-business hurled into the teeth of the universe, and anyone who takes that irrevocable step has earned his or her privacy. AD Coleman, Diane Arbus: The Mirror Is Broken, in the August 5, 1971 issue of The Village Voice
Sylvia Plath and I would talk at length about our first suicide, in detail and in depth ... Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem. Sylvia and I often talked opposites. We talked death with burned-up intensity, both of us drawn to it like moths to an electric light bulb. Anne Sexton, in The Art of Poetry No. 15 in The Paris Review, Summer 1971 (Sylvia Plath had killed herself eight years earlier and Anne Sexton would kill herself three years later)
Every moment of his entire lifeevery tear, every smile, every sunrise, every held hand, every raindrop, every breeze, every leafhad conspired together to bring him to that final moment: that last breath, last blink of an eye, last swallow of saliva, last twitch of a thumb. Everything terminated with the motion of the steel firing pin and the propulsion of a single bullet through flesh, bone, space, time. Silence. Everything at an end. Karen Wyatt, Meadowlark, in vol. 5, no. 2 of Natural Transitions
When a persons at the end of their physical rope, it is not our job to
judge them. This Judeo-Christian idea that were punished for killing ourselves...if
you feel that God tortures the tortured, thats not a God who loves. Taking
away a persons ability to kill themselves is the highest form of fascism.
What right do we have to force another person to stay in unmitigated suffering?
Stephen and Ondrea Levine, Who Dies
What an indulgence it would be, to just blow off my head, all my mean spirits disappearing with a gun blast, like blowing a seedy dandelion apart. Gillian Flynn, Dark Places
May you be satisfied to never know why—sometimes someone just wants to die. Damien Rice, Lonely Soldier
It is so sad that people think that now is forever and do not realize that life is not a stagnant pool but rather a current that will constantly move you into new situations, good and bad. Pyncky, in a comment on dreamindemon.com
The fact that some people can push others to the point of thinking that their lives are not worthy is catastrophic. Melissa Reeves, in a January 2011 interview on welovesoaps.net
... suicide gets in the air sometimes. Like a cold germ. Stephen King, Under the Dome
People should know that when a person does do this, that in the end boiling their entire existence down to the label of suicide victim cheats that person out of their humanity. ... Suicide is a brutal punctuation mark but it’s not the summation of a life. GutsyWoman, on the MyDeathSpace.com boards
But we are all insane, anyway ... The suicides seem to be the only sane people. Mark Twain, Notebook
I do see that there is an argument against suicide: the grief of the worshipers left behind, the awful famine in their hearts, these are too costly terms for the release. Mark Twain, in a letter to WD Howells, July 13, 1889
It’s a physical urge, huger and stronger than thirst or sex. Halfway back on the left side of my head there is a spot that yearns, that longs, that pleads for the jolt of a bullet. I want that rage, that fire, that final empty rip. I want to be let out of this dark cavern, to open myself up to the ease of not-living. I am tired of sorrow and struggle and worry. ... I want to turn out the last light. –Jean Hegland, Into the Forest
However great a mans fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear-headed act of a mathematician. The suicide has judged by the laws of chanceso many odds against one that to live will be more miserable than to die. His sense of mathematics is greater than his sense of survival. Graham Greene, The Comedians
There is in every one of us an unending see-saw between the will to live and the will to die. –Rebecca West, The Strange Necessity
Our excessive tolerance with regard to suicide is due to the fact that, since the state of mind from which it springs is a general one, we cannot condemn it without condemning ourselves; we are too saturated with it not partly to excuse it. –Émile Durkheim, Suicide: A Study in Sociology
I don’t know when the idea of suicide first occurred to me. In some ways, it had been in the back of my mind for years. Yet, oddly, I would never have thought of it as an option. It was the perceived lack of options—the final, unacceptable solution to a grave and insoluble dilemma. I had always thought of it in the same way: If all else fails, if I have nowhere else to turn, I can do this. –Tracy Thompson, The Beast: A Reckoning with Depression
Even at this stage, my preparations were like strapping on a parachute in an airplane that was about to crash; the whole time I was preparing to hurl myself out the door, I clung to the hope that something would happen at the last minute to forestall that terrible necessity I felt—not hostility, as psychiatric texts would say, or vengeful rage, or a desire for attention. This was done in secret, out of a need to alleviate pain which was as implacable as thirst. –ditto
Pain or not, I would most likely walk around in a suicidal reverie the rest of my life, never actually doing anything about it. Was there a psychological term for that? Was there a disease that involved an intense desire to die, but no will to go through with it? Couldn’t talk and thoughts of suicide be considered a whole malady of their own, a special subcategory of depression in which the loss of a will to live has not quite been displaced by a determination to die? –Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
But just as a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, a little bit of energy, in the hands of someone hell-bent on suicide, is a very dangerous thing. –ditto
I guess I realize that I don’t want to die. I don’t want to live either, but—there really isn’t anything in-between. Depression is about as close as you get to somewhere between dead and alive, and it’s the worst. But since the tendency toward inertia means that it’s easier for me to stay alive than die, I guess that’s how it’s going to be, so I guess I should try to be happy. –ditto
Most people get suicide, I guess; most people, even if it’s hidden deep down inside somewhere, can remember a time in their lives when they thought about whether they really wanted to wake up the next day. Wanting to die seems like it might be a part of being alive. –Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down
And what I owned up to was this: I had wanted to kill myself, not because I hated living, but because I loved it. And the truth of the matter is, I think, that a lot of people who think about killing themselves feel the same way … They love life, but it’s all fucked up for them … We were up on the roof because we couldn’t find a way back into life, and being shut out of it like that…it just fucking destroys you, man. So it’s like an act of despair, not an act of nihilism. It’s a mercy killing, not a murder. –ditto
The knives in my apartment are only sharp enough to open envelopes with. Cutting a slice of coarse bread is on the borderline of their ability. I don’t need anything sharper. Otherwise, on bad days, it might easily occur to me that I could always go stand in the bathroom in front of the mirror and slit my throat. On such occasions it’s nice to have the added security of needing to go downstairs and borrow a decent knife from a neighbor. –Peter Høeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow
Her wish to die was as pervasive as a dial tone: you lift the receiver, it’s always there. –Joyce Carol Oates, “Summer Sweat”
It was my last act of love. –Sylvia Plaths first words to her mother in the hospital after her first major suicide attempt
The only option for a pure idealist is to commit suicide. –Wu Guoguang, “Gate of Heavenly Peace”
Though this was my only bona fide suicide attempt, it began in me a lifelong relationship with that temptation. It seemed to me I had a “virus” inside me like malaria that could flare up at any moment, and I needed always to be on guard against it. On the other hand, I would court it, even in times of seeming tranquility. I seemed to derive creative energy from the assertion of suicide as an option. This morbidity left me freer to act or write as I wanted, as much as to say: No one understands me, I’ll show them. It also became my little secret that, while going about in the world, and functioning equably as expected, several times a week I would be batting away the thought of killing myself. How often have I thought, in moods of exasperation or weariness: “I don’t want to go on anymore. Enough of this, I don’t want any more life!” I would imagine, say, cutting my belly open to relieve the tensions once and for all. Usually, this thought would be enough to keep at bay the temptation to not exist. So I found myself using the threat of suicide for many purposes: it was a superstitious double hex warding off suicide; it was a petulant, spoiled response to not getting my way; and it was my shorthand for an inner life, to which I alone had access—an inner life of furious negation, which paradoxically seemed a source of my creativity as a writer. –Phillip Lopate, “Suicide of a Schoolteacher”
… I vowed that I would always respect the right of an individual to kill himself. Whether suicide was a moral or immoral act I no longer felt sure, but of the dignity of its intransigence I was convinced. –ditto
I imagined a psychic pain growing inside him (myself) that demanded some physical outlet. Suicide must have been his attempt to give Pain a body, a representation, to put it outside himself. A need to convert inner torment into some outward tangible wound that all could see. It was almost as though suicide were a last-ditch effort at exorcism, in which the person sacrificed his life in order that the devil inside might die. –ditto
I would never kill myself intentionally. I couldn’t do that to my family, my friends … But to have fate step in and give me a shove, that’s a different matter. Then I have the exit, without the guilt. I am ashamed of myself for thinking like this. But more than anything, I am frightened that it makes me feel so much better to think about it. Sometimes it eases the terror, the sense that I am condemned eternally to this hell. –Martha Manning, Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface
Somewhere over the course of that winter I started thinking about killing myself, though not so much because I wanted to be dead, precisely, as because I yearned for resolution, for escape from the scratching distress of now. I thought killing myself was the only way I’d get that. Somehow, I wasn’t really picturing the long-term consequences of dead: that I’d be dead now, dead later, and dead ad infinitum. I was looking for dead in the short term. Dead until maybe, say, it was time to go to college. –Caroline Kettlewell, Skin Game
God, if ever I have come close to wanting to commit suicide, it is now, with the groggy sleepless blood dragging through my veins, and the air thick and gray with rain ... I fell into bed again this morning, begging for sleep, withdrawing into the dark, warm, fetid escape from action, from responsibility. No good. –Sylvia Plath, journal, November 3, 1952
To annihilate the world by annihilation of one’s self is the deluded height of desperate egoism. The simple way out of all the brick dead ends we scratch our nails against. –ditto
It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling, still do not hear us … calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together. –Jeffery Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides
The thought of suicide is a great source of comfort: with it a calm passage is to be made across many a bad night. –Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Amid the sufferings of life on earth, suicide is God’s best gift to man. –Pliny the Elder, Natural History
It is silliness to live when to live is torment. –William Shakespeare, Othello
If I commit suicide, it will not be to destroy myself, but to put myself back together again. Suicide will be for me only one means of violently re-conquering myself... By suicide, I reintroduce my design in nature, I shall for the first time give things the shape of my will. –Antoin Artaud, Le Disque vert, no. 1
They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice ... that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person. –Arthur Schopenhauer
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death of one’s own free choice, death at the proper time, with a clear head and with joyfulness, consummated in the midst of children and witnesses: so that an actual leave-taking is possible while he who is leaving is still there. –Friedrich Nietzsche, Expeditions of an Untimely Man
The logic of suicide is different. It is like the unanswerable logic of a nightmare, or like the science-fiction fantasy of being projected suddenly into another dimension: everything makes sense and follows its own strict rules; yet, at the same time, everything is also different, perverted, upside down. Once a man decides to take his own life he enters a shut-off, impregnable but wholly convincing world where every detail fits and each incident reinforces his decision. … The world of the suicide is superstitious, full of omens. Freud saw suicide as a great passion, like being in love: “In the two opposed situations of being most intensely in love and of suicide, the ego is overwhelmed by the object, though in totally different ways.” As in love, things which seem trivial to the outsider, tiresome or amusing, assume enormous importance to those in the grip of the monster, while the sanest arguments against it seem to them simply absurd. –A. Alvarez, The Savage God
An English novelist who had made two serious suicide attempts said this to me: “I don’t know how much potentially suicides think about it. I must say, I’ve never really thought about it much. Yet it’s always there. For me, suicide’s a constant temptation. It never slackens. Things are all right at the moment. But I feel like a cured alcoholic: I daren’t take a drink because I know that if I do I’ll go on it again. Because whatever it is that’s there doesn’t alter. It’s a pattern of my entire life. I would like to think that it was only brought on by certain stresses and strains. But in fact, if I’m honest and look back, I realize it’s been a pattern ever since I can remember.” –ditto
When neither high purpose nor the categorical imperatives of religion will do, the only argument against suicide is life itself. You pause and attend: the heart beats in your chest; outside, the trees are thick with new leaves, a swallow dips over them, the light moves, people are going about their business. –ditto
My principle feeling, about this time, was an insatiable longing for something that I cannot describe or denominate properly, unless I say it was for utter oblivion that I longed. I desired to sleep; but it was for a deeper and longer sleep than that in which the senses were nightly steeped. I longed to be at rest and quiet, and close my eyes on the past and future alike, as far as this frail life was concerned. –James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Secret Confessions of a Justified Sinner
Suicidal thinking, if serious, can be a kind of death scare, comparable to suffering a heart attack or undergoing a cancer operation. One survives such a phase both warier and chastened. When—ten years ago—I emerged from a bad dip into suicidal speculation, I felt utterly exhausted and yet quite fearless of ordinary dangers, vastly afraid of myself but much less scared of extraneous eventualities. –Edward Hoagland, “Heaven and Nature”
It would be hard to define chaos better than as a world where children decide they don’t want to live. –ditto
The whole world was clamouring: Kill yourself, kill yourself, for our sakes. But why should he kill himself for their sakes? Food was pleasant; the sun hot; and this killing oneself, how does one set about it, with a table knife, uglily, with floods of blood—by sucking a gaspipe? He was too weak; he could scarcely raise his hand. Besides, now that he was quite alone, condemned, deserted, as those who are about to die are alone, there was a luxury in it, an isolation full of sublimity; a freedom which the attached can never know. –Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Suicide is a form of murder—premeditated murder. It isn’t something you do the first time you think of doing it. It takes some getting used to. And you need the means, the opportunity, the motive. A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind.
It’s important to cultivate detachment. One way to do this is to practice imagining yourself dead, or in the process of dying. If there’s a window, you must imagine your body falling out the window. If there’s a knife, you must imagine the knife piercing your skin. If there’s a train coming, you must imagine your torso flattened under its wheels. These exercises are necessary to achieving the proper distance. –Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted
I think many people kill themselves simply to stop the debate about whether
they will or they won’t.
Anything I thought or did was immediately drawn into the debate. Made a stupid remark—why not kill myself? Missed the bus—better put an end to it all. Even the good got in there. I liked that movie—maybe I shouldn’t kill myself.
Actually, it was only part of myself I wanted to kill: the part that wanted to kill herself, that dragged me into the suicide debate and made every window, kitchen implement, and subway station a rehearsal for tragedy. –ditto
And so I leave this world, where the heart must either break or turn to lead. –Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort’s suicide note
To my friends: My work is done. Why wait? –George Eastman’s suicide note
When all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one. –Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s suicide note
They tried to get me—I got them first! –Vachel Lindsay’s suicide note
Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool—good luck. –George Sanders’s suicide note
Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again: I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems to best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight it any longer, I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is that I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that –everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. –Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter to her husband, Leonard
When I am dead, and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho you should lean above me broken hearted,
I shall not care.
For I shall have peace.
As leafey trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough.
And I shall be more silent and cold hearted
Than you are now.
–Sara Teasdale’s suicide note, written to her lover who left her
The future is just old age and illness and pain ... I must have peace and this is the only way. –James Whale’s suicide note
I don’t believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful
reflection over a considerable period of time. –Wendy O. Williams’s suicide
I may look human from the outside, but my inside is empty, stupid, dull-witted, and self-isolating. What on earth is in me. I may be breathing, thanks to the support of parents and other people around me, but my real self is like a lifeless doll. –from the suicide note of a Japanese woman who killed herself after her fiancé broke off their engagement
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.
–Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus”
Sometimes this genius goes dark and sinks down into the bitter well of his heart. –underlined by poet Paul Celan in a biography before committing suicide
But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
–Anne Sexton, “Wanting to Die”
It bothered me that when I die I might slip through the cracks, and I thought, “Well, that’s just the way it is.” You live in the country and life is cheap. And maybe you finally have to accept the fact that you did slip through the cracks. I just want to get out of here and go to sleep and just be left alone. –Ann Wickett Humphry, in a videotape made before she committed suicide
The body is amazingly stubborn when it comes to sacrificing itself to the annihilating directions of the mind. –Sylvia Plath, describing a failed suicide attempt in a letter written while institutionalized
The body is a damn hard thing to kill. –Anne Sexton
Suicide … seems to me to be a flight by which man hopes to recover Paradise Lost instead of trying to deserve Heaven. –Paul-Louis Landsberg, The Experience of Death and the Moral Problem of Suicide
One does not kill oneself for love of a woman. One kills oneself because love—any love—reveals us in our nakedness, our misery, our vulnerability, our nothingness. –Cesare Pavese
If wild my breast and sore my pride,
I bask in dreams of suicide,
if cool my heart and high my head
I think, “How lucky are the dead.”
–Dorothy Parker, “Mortal Thoughts”
Thou shalt not kill; but needst not strive officiously to keep alive. –AH Clough
No one ever lacks good reasons for suicide. –Cesare Pavese
Death hath a thousand doors to let out life. I shall find one. –Sir Thomas Browne
… ah, one favor:
if he telephones again,
tell him it’s no use, that I’ve gone out …
–Alfonsia Storni, “I Shall Sleep” (written the day before she drowned herself)
The woman hanging from the 13th floor window on the east side of Chicago is not alone…She is all the women of the apartment building who stand watching her, watching themselves. –Joy Harjo
At one period, when I viewed everything through a false medium, I fancied that nothing but the sacrifice of my life would benefit my children, for that my wretchedness embittered every moment of their lives; and dreadful to say, I was many times on the point of making the sacrifice. –Margaret Shippen Arnold
Next week, or next month, or next year I will kill myself. But I might as well last out my month’s rent, which has been paid up … –Jean Rhys, “Good Morning, Midnight”
To die, to sleep! To sleep, perchance to dream … –William Shakespeare, Hamlet
I wish that I was dead. Oh, they’ll be sorry then.
I hate them and I’ll kill myself tomorrow.
I want to die. I hate them, hate them. Hate.
–Vernon Scannell, “Felo de Se”
He went home one evening and drank three cups of tea with three lumps of sugar in each cup, cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on a picture of his wife goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. –Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two Birds
You, who can’t do anything, think you can bring off something like that? How can you even dare to think about it? If you were capable of it, you certainly wouldn’t be in need of it. –Franz Kafka, of his own suicidal ideation, in a letter
How many people have wanted to kill themselves, and have been content with tearing up their photograph! –Jules Renard, Journal
There is a doctrine whispered in secret that a man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door and run away; this is a great mystery which I do not quite understand. –Socrates (view on suicide)
By suicide I introduce my design in nature, I shall for the first time give things the shape of my will … now I choose the direction of my thought and the direction of my faculties, my tendencies, my reality. –Antonin Artaud, Antonin Artaud Anthology
Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a young person can make. –a teacher in Heathers
I am worthless. I am of no use to anyone, and no one is of any use to me. What good to kill myself? How can you kill nothing? A person who has committed suicide has had at least something to end. He must know joy to know misery. I have known nothing. Why live? Why die? One is an equal choice to the other. ... It takes tolerance not to give in to death. –Vivienne Loomis, journal, April 11, 1973
I don’t need a reason to kill myself—I need a reason not to. –Jennifer Jason Leigh, in Single White Female
Last year a friend went dark
in a nervous city
alone, the sea flashing
against his glasses,
the sea sorted out at last
in his inner ear
so he could leave this world
as he’d entered it
through the undependable
–Kevin Jeffery Clark, “The Rush to Ending”
It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get at. –Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (re: a suicide attempt)
If I want to die, what am I saving myself for? –Joanne Greenberg, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
And when no hope was left inside
on that starry, starry night,
you took your life as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
this world was never meant
for one as beautiful as you.
–Don McLean, “Vincent”
Self-murder, that infernal crime, which all the gods level their thunder at! –Fane
how did you crawl into,
crawl down alone
into the death I wanted so badly and for so long …
–Anne Sexton, “Sylvia’s Death” (written upon Sylvia Plath’s suicide)
Do I put up with all this shit, or do I plunge a knife into my head? –jotted by me in the margin in one of my classroom notebooks from sophomore year of college
Just as killing is the extreme form of aggression, being killed is the extreme form of submission. The demands of conscience are so relentless that there is no inner peace. In order to be punished, people often put themselves in circumstances in which they must suffer. They need to atone by being destroyed. –(?)
I don’t think suicide is so terrible. Some rainy winter Sundays when there’s a little boredom, you should always carry a gun. Not to shoot yourself, but to know exactly that you’re always making a choice. –Lina Wertmuller
There was something heavy and black and sticky about it [a friend’s suicide],
a kind of terrible cloud. I felt sick and like fainting underneath it while
I cleaned the apartment bare, like the winter clearing the branches of the trees
and the earth with its terrible wind, leaving nothing behind. When someone new
moved in with uncrushed dreams, then the spring would return to that apartment.
But as for my friend’s widow, she would move on with the winter, following it
like a gypsy wherever its cold wind blew, and its emptiness beckoned. It was
also the beginning of her end.
At that time, some people called my friend a coward. They said he had lacked the courage to face up to his problems, and to deal with the trials life had put in his path. I, always reluctant to speak ill of the dead, did not join in this chorus of condemnation. Was it superstition (the vengeance of ghosts, and need to bind the threatening figure with love) or some important form of respect? In all events, my friend had proven his courage other times. Did his courage break, or is it only that there are different forms of courage for different challenges, and that we may respond courageously to some situations and not to others. (Perhaps it is like in Orwell’s 1984, where there is that room of horrors that holds the one thing we fear most, different for each of us. To one a rat, to one a bullet, to one a cliff with torrents of water rushing beneath, to one a disease: our personal weak spot, the one “special” thing that will break us, even if we are made of iron.) The question bothered me a long time. I felt a loyalty to my friend’s memory, a desire not to “sell him short,” and remember him as a coward; yet also, the suicide seemed such a tragedy, and there was a heavy darkness about it, not a bright, liberating shining. I concluded that I owed my friend a moratorium from judgment. There was both bravery and perhaps a lack of it in his action. The physical act of actually getting a gun, loading it, setting himself up with it, and pulling the trigger, which I went over in my mind again and again in my effort to understand him, did require physical courage—just like the act of jumping off the Empire State Building, which someone else I knew much more peripherally did. But what of the courage of facing life’s challenges? I concluded that for him, bred to a different idea of courage, it was not easy to find valor in living out a humiliating demeaning life with no apparent light at the end of the tunnel. … I finally concluded that my friend was not a coward; that he simply had not reached the perspective on life that could have enabled him to carry on.
This is why I feel that spiritual understanding, and connection with spirit, is so crucial to survive in this world, because raw courage may not be enough. The proudest lion who would keep on fighting if he was filled with arrows, might be killed by a mere shadow. There comes a dark time, a confusing time, when only insight can bring courage, and that is why the spiritual path is so crucial to any sensitive being on this planet. … Could it be, whenever we face a life crisis, as though our soul was seeking to cross a deep and difficult river in its path, and that we must keep on wandering along the shore, for the rest of time, until we finally find a place to cross, and dare to make the crossing? If so, we might as well do it now. If it’s painful now, why stay stuck in it, why keep perpetuating it for eternity?
Certainly, things we do in this life can haunt us and imprison us within this life. … As the saying goes, no matter how hard you try, “you can’t run away from yourself”—which may be what we’re doing whenever we run away from a hardship life has ‘“forced” upon us. Therefore, I believe that we must struggle with all our heart and insight, to go on, and never take our own lives. …Suicide is only rescheduling the ordeal for another time—and if we cannot pass through the hardship now, what is it that will make us be able to pass through it in the future? On the contrary, the more deeply the precedent of collapsing is entrenched within our souls, the harder it is likely to become to break through the barrier in the future. It is as though our souls were bleeding. Better to fight now, before we lose more blood!
And yet one more way to think about suicide: Look at a part of yourself that was beautiful, a childhood photograph, a picture that you drew, something that evokes tenderness before the self-hate set in. Something that evokes that maternal/paternal instinct that has kept our human race from dying out—the heart’s pull towards that which is helpless and beautifully fresh, whether we have fathered/mothered it or not. Accept that child into your care, like an orphan … given to you to love, even if no one else does, to care for, to be a guardian of. Imagine yourself carrying that fragile, beautiful being with you along a hard, dark road. Can you see yourself saying, “Enough!”, and just throwing that child off your back or out of your arms, down onto the hard ground at the side of the road, leaving it behind in the cold to die? Of course not! … –from one of my listservs