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Jun 25, 2009

Suicide Watch

To anyone lacking my admittedly peculiar mind-set, this post is going to seem really horrible and likely in poor taste, indicative that I Need Help, and probably a number of other stupidly cliched reactions. If you're the type of person who has never felt the need to think about suicide and gets jumpy when the topic comes up, you should probably stop reading right now. Go do something cheerful. Nothing I have to say will do you any good, anyway.

Personally, I confess to being surprised if there are people out there who *don't* contemplate suicide on a regular basis. I do, every few months or so (or even more often), and it's comforting in an odd sort of way. Well, maybe comforting isn't the right word--liberating, maybe. It makes tough things easier to handle when I know I don't have to handle them if I don't want to. It's a sort of value affirmation. Do I still have reasons to stick around? Apparently so.

I also don't understand why just talking about it gets people so upset. A lot of people seem to have the same knee-jerk reaction. Therapy. Medication. GET HELP. It's almost like they take it personally somehow, like they have some sort of responsibility for making you want to stay alive. But no one can make you want to live, propaganda and suicide hotlines to the contrary. They may manage to avert a sudden crisis. But the problem that makes someone suicidal in the first place will still remain. If you don't learn your own methods of coping with sudden pain or loss, then crisis will own you forever. You have to know why you want to live. Or even if you do at all.

Most would probably say that wanting to live comes from inside, but the real truth is that it doesn't *come* from anywhere. It's something you manufacture. It doesn't arrive. It has to be constructed. You have to be someone like me to notice that, I think, someone who has had to assemble desires bit by bit from strange and isolated parts. Someone who regularly watches the entire edifice teetering on the brink of collapse and has to decide all over again whether to keep working at it or let it fall down.

I think that's why suicide upsets people more than the more ordinary sort of death. (Is there an "ordinary" way to die?) Not because it's particularly horrible, but because it reminds them of the existence of their own ramshackle house or skyscraper or whatever kind of soul they've managed to build. If it's not well-constructed, maybe they start to wonder whether some hidden defect might send the whole thing tumbling down. Perhaps they feel out of control, and it frightens them.

I don't, and I think that's the one good thing about really thinking about suicide on a regular basis. I may feel out of control in my daily life. Things happen, I wasn't paying attention, everything gets out of hand. But when it comes down to the line, I'm in complete control. I know what kind of soul I have. So I can talk about suicide. I can even make horrible black jokes about it when most people would shy away. I'm not afraid of a sudden fracture--I knew the stress was there from the beginning.

That's not to say that my way is a good way. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I imagine it's much better to have a soul that's carefully constructed from thinking about life, not death. But it's the way I'm stuck with, so I may as well enjoy the benefits, such as they are. I'm not sure anyone else would call it a benefit. It certainly doesn't make it easy for anyone to deal with me.

At least I know, for certain, that I'm only doing this because I want to.

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