Sunday, November 23, 2008


I don't like rumors much. They are rarely true and tend to negatively distort perspectives. But, sometimes a person needs to talk a bit. So, here's a place where hopefully no one knows where I'm from and where I can be vague and I never have to listen to someone pestering for more details.

So, someone on campus recently went missing and was later found dead. The circumstances were very strange and seemed like either an accidental killing or suicide. Or a Darwin Award-quality accident by him, but that seems the least plausible.

I was thinking about suicide, trying to figure out what I think of it.

First of all, it's sad. It's also confusing. I mean, I've thought about it, but something held me back. A few thing. Most immediate is just plain fear. What's over there? Death is something that no one knows, except maybe those who are already there. I guess I'm afraid of what I don't know.

I also thought about the people who were left. I sometimes had malicious thoughts, wanting to hurt people, but there's something that just seemed too cruel. No matter how exact or detailed a note is, unless a person lives in a cave, there's always someone left asking "was it something I did? Didn't do? Is this my fault?" That's something I just could not leave behind, that doubt and worry and potential self-hatred. I mean, isn't one of the suicidal thoughts "this world is better off without me", so wouldn't suicide make the world worse off without them?

It takes a kind of selfishness to kill oneself (assuming it's not a sacrifice for the good of others like jumping on a grenade or whatever). It leaves behind so much pain. What could they be feeling that makes it worth so much pain? Perhaps it's so much pain that they don't even think of it. They just want it to end.

I can't remember where I heard it, but somewhere it was said that when people commit suicide and fail, they have a powerful urge to live. I think that's the body, the unrestricted instinct kicking in. Even when the mind gives up, the body refuses to die without a fight.

I wonder what they think at the very end. Relief? Fear? Anger? Regret?

It makes me think of Maslow's hierarchy. All the physical survival stuff: air, then water and food, come before anything else. I assume blood retention falls somewhere in there. After that you can start worrying about things like social ties and happiness. But it all gets jumbled with people. Religion redefines some terms. People who die for such reasons have a spiritual food, which can be more important than anything else. Social rejection? That's the wrong order. But maybe this can teach something.

Maybe life needs to be worth living to live it. I like that idea actually. It doesn't work well in practice. People can't see very far when they're emotional. Happy people see the world has happy and good and why should it ever end? Sad people, the opposite, but with the unending part. Unending pain. Only death could provide any relief, so why not hasten it? They're wrong though. Life can be reclaimed. It's so hard to see that from such a low state. Besides, it's not likely to help a crumbling person to say that they're wrong about their entire perspective.

I wish we could just say "you're wrong about life and that's the happiest thing you will ever hear."