Suicide is not a common topic of discussion. As sure as we are born, death waits in the background for each of us regardless of what we call it nor how we dress it up. Today death is being conveyed steadily into the mainstream of thought and talk via a PR campaign of skull tattoos, forensic lab soap operas, weather disaster footage, vampire books for teenagers and myriad other techniques. Folks are predictably getting kinda cozy with it. Cold and waxy is the new warm and fuzzy.
During a recent holiday weekend, in the space of seventy-two hours, I had the topic of suicide dangled in my face no less than three times by three different people. This is why I write these words at this time. I make no claims to know anything, these are but some of my thoughts on the subject.
Like many people, I have had to live beyond the suicide of a near relation and the attempted suicide of a close friend. It is a mighty hard row to hoe for the living. It is like a Hallmark card postmarked from Gehenna that returns every time you send it back from whence it came. I have taken a pistol out of the hand of a suicidal man and sat with him as he wept. He was successful on his third try some years later.
After we are born our parents are quick to point out that we owe our very existence to them. “I gave you life,” is the general drift of such talk. It must be asked, “Since the life within the sperm and egg exists in an unbroken chain all the way back to the Beginning, who or what really gave it?”
Rather, I would say that each set of parents participate in a continuum and that they serve to nurture the offspring so produced until time for them to participate in the continuum themselves. They give many material things, they give their time and their love but they are clearly not the givers of life. They are guardians of life that has taken a unique corporeal form and has been endowed with a unique spirit.
We humans, after growing out of our infancy and upon leaving our childhood, are the guardians of the life we carry forward in this unbroken chain. When we reproduce we become guardians of its latest manifestation. The distinction I would point out to the reader is that we are not, nor were we ever, the owners of the life that we carry or reproduce. We are the keepers.
Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew or Atheist - None may know the number of their days. The only certainty is that they are indeed numbered. If one understands that life is an unbroken chain, originating in Mystery and entrusted to each in turn for safekeeping, one may derive meaning from these words. There are those who have contemplated suicide, those who talk about it and finally those who have died by their own hand.
Probably, many more people than you might guess have contemplated suicide. Personally, I think it is an infantile reaction to pressures that seem to the child to be more than they can bear. I use the word child in both its common meaning and also as applicable to a person of any age who is mentally, spiritually or psychologically a child. Hope springs eternal from the human breast, the old folks say. This is true. It is a human attribute and as such was co-opted before the mud had dried on the walls of Lagash.
A person can easily be made to believe that their situation is hopeless, when in fact, it is not. A person can easily be made to think that there is light at the end of a tunnel, when in fact, there is not. Hope can be manipulated, manufactured, bullied and cheated. Hope is why people continue to vote one party out every eight years in Democracies; which Plato taught are the penultimate stage of political decay; while never working out that disliked agendas have never ceased regardless of which party is in or out of power.
Faith is a much better companion. She is very different than Hope. If she is “given” to one by another as is often the case with Hope, then she is an imposter. Fe cannot be manipulated, manufactured, bullied or cheated. She is handmaid to Mystery and any may walk with her. It is a choice to do so, a fork in the road. She will not entertain Fear, she is tireless and all who practice evil recognize their own impotence when confronted by her.
Thus, no one survives beyond emotional or spiritual childhood without one or the other of these two gals. Those who speak of suicide as a solution have chosen to embrace Hope, have rejected Faith and have become disenchanted by turns with their Beloved. Like the couple who quarrel and fight between bouts of make-up sex, this behaviour pattern can go on indefinitely.
I once saw a cock sparrow fight with his own reflection in the side-view mirror of a van. His ladybird sat on a twig several feet away watching the desperate combat. Her future depended on the outcome. I can imagine some of her thoughts. Her knight thrust himself at the hated rival and pecked viciously.
The energy consumed was hugely taxing. After every attack he perched on the door handle panting like an out of shape boxer. All this took place a mere four feet off the ground and easily within range of any cat, hawk, coyote or other death-bringer that might have happened by or have been already lurking in the foliage.
Presently the lady who owned the car came out and the noise of her unlocking the door startled the sparrow out of his delusion. He rejoined his mate and carried on with his life and love intact. Such is the power of illusion. Its the power of the little man behind the curtain in Oz. The victim supplies all the energy. Happily, the spell can be broken by the simplest of actions. Shibumi. Those who have died by their own hands after failing to endure the trials they encountered in the emotional land of mirrors. in which they became lost remind me of that sparrow.
It is my understanding that it is an ignorant road to take and selfish in many ways. Selfish in the sense that a look around would have revealed to them much suffering endured by many people. Ignorant in the sense that the spawn of suicides are Guilt, Fear and other equally powerful destructive forces. These latch on imperceptibly to the people near to the deceased and begin their grim parasitic work. Suicides do not put an end to their pain, they merely caste it upon those closest to them.
To those who contemplate suicide I extend this essay and an admonition to wake up and look around at the suffering of others. May you find Compassion and not mistake her for Depression. Compassion clearly sings out of your heart's window, a message to remind others in pain that they are not alone. Depression stays inside draws the curtains and enumerates all the names of evil. Her lodgings are empty hearts and she fills them with horrors. Compassion always evicts Depression as they are not compatible.
Contemplate the differences between Hope, Faith, Compassion and Depression. Don't worry – you still get to die but you may do someone good before you go.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.