Okay, in all fairness, it’s not everybody around me who’s committing suicide these days, but there are more than enough examples to leave me wondering about the why of it all.
You know that gray zone between being sound asleep and being fully awake? That razor’s edge?
Yep. That’s the one. I’ve been day sleeping, five or six hours at a time, hammering through the night in my ongoing effort to move the last of my articles over here (to Ghost32writer) from another site. Around 5:30 p.m. (on October 4, 2013), I got up long enough to go to the bathroom, lay my head back down on the pillow, and pretty soon the awareness came.
No, not me personally. I’m not the suicidal type. But as the names kept coming up, it seemed like I could identify at least 70 suicides, one for each year of my life. Not celebrities, not World War II kamikaze pilots or present day suicide bombers, just people I knew personally or who were at least related to me in some way.
A few examples:
–One of my cousin’s daughters.
–One of my granddaughters.
–One of the doctors who treated our family when I was growing up in Montana.
–One of the Scoutmasters (there were only two) from when I was a twelve year old Boy Scout. (This man was also a local power company lineman.)
–One of my lawyers, the wonderful man who’d helped me adopt my third wife’s sons when they were fatherless teenagers. I’d been in deep financial doo-doo at the time and stiffed him; he never got paid. Decades later, I tracked him down, intending to finally pay up, with interest if he’d have it. Too late; he’d shot himself a year earlier. He’d been in his late forties or early fifties. Had I contributed to his final decision to take his own life? One wonders about these things.
–One of my employees, or almost-employees, a 32 year old fellow I’d had to call up with bad news: The business I’d planned to expand…well, I’d re-crunched the numbers, and I was going under. Neither he nor I had a job. Thirty days after that phone call, he blew his brains out, all over the bathroom in his parents’ home. Was my phone call the final straw? One wonders about these things.
–My current wife’s kid sister, who led a rough life if ever there was one, dead by overdose at age 31.
–My wife herself, many times, most before we met, but several of them during our first year together. Fortunately, it’s been more than 15 years since her last attempt. I have to conclude I’ve been good for her, at least so far.
–A close friend and coworker, another lawyer in fact. A devout Lutheran, he knew killing himself would consign him to the lowest depths of Hell (so his pastors had taught him), yet he still gave it the old college try, ending up with his stomach pumped in the emergency room. Why? What sort of inner pain could drive a Soul that hard? One wonders about these things.
–The kid sister of a girl I couldn’t have, back in my own teen days. The father had me on his forbidden list, and elder sis wouldn’t consider defying Daddy. Younger sis, Betty, age 15, would have flipped her old man the bird to be with me any day, but I wasn’t attracted to her in “that way”. We were friends, though, and she told me about the botched attempt. She’d planned to shoot herself with a .22 caliber rifle but, pondering, decided against it. If memory serves, the idea was to trigger the long barreled weapon with her toe, maybe shoot herself up through the mouth or some such–which would have worked, all right.
But she was very tired, apparently fell asleep while still holding the barrel of the weapon with one hand…and neglected to get that tricky old toe out of the trigger guard before she nodded off. Shot herself in the abdomen. Called the hospital. Cussed the doctor for cutting her skirt away in the elevator to get at the wound; that was a new skirt!
Did my lack of interest in her as a girlfriend contribute to her overall malaise? I don’t know. Our telephone conversation in which she told me the story was a good one, but…. One wonders about these things.
This post will not get deeply into the topic of suicide. That’s a deep topic, and I’m under the gun time-wise, in the middle of moving hundreds of my online articles from another site to this one. It would take a lot of deep thought, research, and page-crafting to do the topic justice. So, this page will serve mostly as a marker, a reminder to explore “Suicide in Society” more thoroughly at some unspecified date in the future.
Howver, before signing off, one thing does need to be mentioned: I don’t know why “everybody around me” is committing suicide, has attempted suicide, or is at least giving it serious thought…but I do know suicide is far more common throughout human cultures–ours and others–than most people realize. In some cultures, it’s even considered highly honorable under certain specified conditions. From either the statistical or psychological standpoint, it’s worth serious study, serious discussion, without the taboo effect that so often shuts down conversation when the topic comes up.
In fact, were I to pursue a PhD in psychology to buttress the Bachelor’s degree I do have in that field, suicide might well be the area of human behavior I’d tackle for my thesis. Not that giving my dissertation would explain why everybody around me is committing suicide, but at least it would be a start….