Suicide is not painless

“We scoff at the naivete of those who, a few hundred years ago, attributed such realities to evil spirits.”

One of the worst things about the movie MASH was the title of the theme song, “Suicide is painless.” Of course, if you’ve ever have been a survivor of suicide – I have been fortunate not to be in that category – it is full of pain for those left behind.

I must tell you that I had no idea who Kate Spade was, but I see her impact on fashion was evidently huge. One of many things I hated in the reportage was that her brother-in-law, comedian David Spade, was “breaking his silence” less than two days after her death. The expectation that we are somehow OWED a statement from her loved one rankles me.

Conversely, I was really sad about the death of Anthony Bourdain, chef, travel host and author, at 61. Early on, I thought he was a real jerk, but as he evolved and – I thought – had faced his demons, he became quite the raconteur, telling stories about food around the world.

Matthew Cutler, a rabbi, wrote When living hurts…, which I found useful.

The network news has actually plugged the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800 273 talk) multiple times and pointed to info such as recognize the signs of suicide and find help. I wish it were that simple.

Still, I think Michael Rivest, a guy I know IRL, is also correct when he wrote: “In light of the media attention given to Anthony Bourdain’s suicide, it was inevitable that it would flush out those who see suicide as a cowardly ‘choice.’ These are usually the same people who see addiction as a choice, along with poverty, anxiety, sexual orientation, etc.

“We scoff at the naivete of those who, a few hundred years ago, attributed such realities to evil spirits, yet now we fall for the self-satisfied canard that people somehow ‘choose’ to be in pain, or to be victims of social injustice. Sometimes, things only look like a choice to those for whom they would be.”

Read how Amy Biancolli takes on the ‘selfishness’ of suicide.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Suicide is not painless”

  1. Two thoughts:

    1. I saw lots of stories after Bourdain’s death about good things he did, how he was more respectful of many of the people he visited (a lot was made of his visit to W. Va., a state that is often treated as a joke by the intelligentsia*). And it makes me sad: where were the people saying these things while he was still alive, so maybe he could have at least had some satisfaction of knowing people “got” him? I see that a lot, that people get criticized while they live and favorably eulogized after they die. Not saying it would have changed *anything* but at least he might have had some satisfaction from that

    (*I was born in W. Va. so I slightly bristle at the “hillbilly” stereotypes)

    2. Losing someone close to you to suicide never really leaves you. I lost a cousin that way in 2004….and hearing about Bourdain and Spade low-level brought that pain up again. It’s better than it was, but it still hurts.

  2. I can divide my life into two periods; before the first loved one in my life committed suicide and after. I’ve never been the same. The depth of that hurt hasn’t kept me from being tempted by it, but it has kept me from pursuing it. I think It’s a Wonderful Life shows how unaware we can be about how our lives impact others. I think this is especially true for people who try to do good but who never feel like they can do enough (or are enough). We often think it is the big, flashy things that affect people most. In my experience it has been the little kindnesses that get into my soul and that have helped me to feel seen and loved. The suicides were blows, but it is the sweet from their lives that haunts me. Selfish? Perhaps blind would be a better way to think about it. I believe if most people really knew how their loved ones would be affected, they’d find ways to hold on or reach out for help more persistently in the times when they can’t see anything good about their lives or themselves worth living for. I don’t believe my loved ones are doomed to purgatory. I have felt on more than one occasion however, that they are sorry. I think one of the hardest things is to see someone you love suffering and not be able to do anything about it. When you are alive, you may be clumsy at it, but you still have opportunities to act that can make a difference. I’ve lost most of my closest family and friends to death. I know that they love me, but when life is particularly hard, I want (and really miss) having someone with skin on- someone I can hear and touch now. I love the little things you have said and done for me, Roger, that have made me feel valuable and loved. Thank you. Still praying for you and your sister. <3

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