Monday, November 28, 2011

Suicide Me by Jersey Campbell

Everyone I know goes about their lives believing with all conviction that life is preferable to death. Sure, life is great if you own a yacht and a PLNL franchise, but those of us less fortunate it ain’t so rosy. What makes life better than death? Until someone can explain what death is like we have no business making definite statements about the matter. 

                It seems that if someone really wished to kill themselves, they should be able to do so. I shouldn’t even need to reveal the staggering statistics on an inevitable energy crisis or the rampant overpopulation of many urban cities across the globe. 

                I keep on hearing about America being the land of the free, yet the most important freedom we should have- choosing to live or die- is out of the individual’s jurisdiction. Special cases like the terminally ill are obvious reasons for allowing suicide, but for situations like the 15-year-old who just got her heart broken by her boyfriend, maybe we can hold off on that. 

                Lung cancer patient Walter had to sit through an intervention and listen to his wife and son tell him why he should do chemotherapy and delay the inevitable- his death. All was going well until his sister-in-law, Marie, upended the intervention and told Walter that ultimately, it is his choice to make. 

                Walter’s wife Skylar comes off as selfish and totally unreasonable when she berates her sister for telling her husband that choosing chemo or no chemo is his choice to make. She wants her husband to live as long as possible so he can see his daughter grow into a woman. She doesn’t want him to die at all! But what about what Walter wants? It’s his life we’re talking about right?

 Walter demands possession of the talking pillow and tells his family how he really feels about the situation and his oncoming demise. He doesn’t want to swallow 40 pills or day or have his wife clean up his poop. He doesn’t want to become a burden on his family as his physical capabilities dwindle to that of a two-month old baby- without the joy that comes with a new burgeoning life. Can we blame him? 

                For all the different reasons for committing suicide, Walter’s case is the noblest. We don’t define these situations as suicide but isn’t that what Walter wants for himself and his family? Effectively he’s saying that he’d rather die quickly then prolong the inevitable with tubes poking into his frail body and a dome that Mr.Clean would be jealous of. Kill me now. There’s no point in fighting if you’re going to lose anyway (tell that to Jets fans). The only result is death and significant decreases in the family's monetary resources. He's not helping by holding on.

                Walter and his in-laws are right. They understand that if there is one choice an individual deserves to make, it is the choice of life or death. Walter seems like a rational man. He’s not crazy or mentally unstable. He has come to the conclusion that it would be easier on everyone if he didn’t go into chemo and just passed within the five year timeframe the doctor expressed. His wife cannot accept these facts and turns delusional when her planned intervention is turned on its head by her libertarian sister. 

                Christians and many other religions believe suicide is morally impermissible. Life is sacred, they say. We violate the moral code when we dishonor the inherent value of human life. This is why many religions are against abortion, but these are the same religions that support the death penalty and going to war. If the sanctity of life position was taken literally, there would be no war. You wouldn’t be able to kill anyone, even if it is in self-defense. Life is a gift given to us by God and we are his property, we ignore God’s wishes when we kill ourselves. (But it’s OK for the Pope to authorize military action against Muslims to gain back access to Jerusalem.)

                Suicide is widely viewed to be a selfish act. Are there not some cases where suicide is unselfish, altruistic even? The suicider is ignoring the implications that his/her death will have on the people who care about them. But when someone goes away, that leaves more for me and you! Emotionally we’re being robbed, but rationally we’re being showered with blessings (more on this later). 

                There is an implicit assumption among people of this society that we will live forever. We want to be able to live forever. We can’t stand for a close friend or family member expressing a lack of motivation to continue life even when that decision could end up benefiting us in the long run. We are constantly running from death even though we know that our biological stamina will eventually give out and we will be caught. 

                Death should be embraced as it is as much a part of our existence as life. We’ve always had a fear of the unknown, the unquantifiable. Death is the ultimate unknown and for that reason we foolishly attempt to prevent it. Our lives are constantly devoted to preserve our existence to the point where we are dangerously close to groping Suzy Kolber on a nationally televised NFL game (OK that was due to drunkenness not old age. But you know old people rarely hold back how they feel. A drunk, younger Joe Namath wouldn't have said that). The only way we can define death is by using the negative to say what it is not. That means we have no clue what it would feel like. And if the negative-life- isn’t all shits and giggles, then why not take a chance (or let a loved one take that chance) and discover what the experience is really like?

                Nobody should not be allowed to commit suicide. Everybody should know that while we have freedom of action (which is debatable), there is no freedom of consequences. A single mother with three kids should think long and hard before she offs herself because the well-being of her children is at stake. But for the bachelor who just got fired from his 9 to 5 then hears the bank knocking on his door ready to foreclose his house what reason does he not have to put a bullet through his head? OK that came out wrong. What I’m trying to say is we should accept his decision. If he feels there is no reason for him to be alive anymore, no purpose to fulfill, then why stop him from exercising his freedom? (Screw the banks, they have no humanity anyway.)

Does it hurt to lose someone you love? Fuck yeah. I know this kid who cried at his grandmother’s 90th birthday party (that kid may or may not have been me) because he knew that every second that passed took a little more life out of her. It only hurts because we are afraid. Afraid of a pillar of support/friendship/comfort/reassurance collapsing and threatening the foundation of our own lives, and justifiably so. But if that person has weighed their options over time and still wants to pull the plug, aren't we the selfish ones for trying to dissuade them?

When we stage interventions and persuade someone not to take their own life we come across just as selfish and delusional as Skylar. What are arguing for when we tell the depressed and mentally depleted party that they should preserve their life? Why are we so sure that we know what other people want? We might as well be the European settlers telling the natives that they live like savage barbarians and they would be better off living civilized. We know how that turned out. Happy Thanksgiving.

In addition, there either needs to be some honest population control or a drastic reduction in our energy consumption, because humans aren’t gonna last long on this planet if we continue our destructive habits. For those of us who still steadfastly believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, a portion of the population committing suicide is simply the weak fulfilling their destiny. We don’t need those weak, feeble-minded character traits in the gene pool anyway. There is a limit to how large the earth’s population can be, we know that right? When are we going to confront this? I alluded to this point in a comment I left on NYC Robert’s “The Possible Effects of Teenage Pregnancies” and while I was half-joking, I kind of meant it. We’re at seven million and counting. Most of the growth is in third world areas such as Rio de Janeiro and Baltimore where rampant unprotected sex is the norm. The world would benefit from an increase in suicide cases more than it would hurt. Sad, but true. We’re totally veering off the subject and driving front-first into the tangent lane, but this is also why abortion needs to be legalized worldwide and contraceptives need to be available to everyone. It’s already out of hand, let’s curb the problem before the zombie apocalypse comes and instead of a manageable one billion undead flesh-eaters we’ll be dealing with three million undead flesh-eaters. Just sayin’. 

What would we, as a society, rather have- a dying man die quickly, or a dying man turning into a de facto degenerate who sells crystal meth?

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