On Suicide

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the
Snow – First – Chill – then Stupor –
then the letting go –

—Emily Dickinson

One can study this notion for a lifetime, and many have, without ever coming to a conclusion other than a personal one. Yet, I’ve often thought of that, too. After two thousand years of Christian civilization in which suicide was both condemned and outlawed, and now for two hundred years where the secular authorities no longer outlaw it but have condemned it to the couch of psychoanalysts everywhere as a mental disorder one realizes that we’re still under the shadow of ancient codes of theological bullshit.

I dream of an age of forgetfulness, an age when once again one can celebrate the going out of existence as much as we celebrate its birth in children arising out of the womb. The ancient Celts used to hold joyous celebrations and wakes in the memory of the departed, recounting their lives and deeds with family, friends, and acquaintances in a joyful send off rather than some dark and foreboding affair of tears.

Even as a pessimist who sees birth and death as equally aspects of something that should not be, I still find the notion of celebration rather than some false sense of Christian or Secular tearfest to be both more beneficial and given over to the act of deliberate freedom and uncreation. Having suicide become just as much a part of the social mix of celebration seems only fitting in a world that for too long has both condemned and outlawed this one act of defiance and freedom against the laws of God and Man.

How many here would rather such a fitting end—celebrating one’s life, while realizing that the body’s suffering and torment should finally be spared and divested; all the while preparing for such a departure not in horror and tears, but in laughter and shared joy? I’ll bet that most people even if they were raised secular would still see this as a bit strange. But why? Why wouldn’t the celebration of freedom as an act of self-divestiture of suffering and pain be condemned rather than celebrated? Why is our culture so blatantly shame based that to look on death and suicide as an act either against some false theological order, or as some kind of disease of the mind in a secular order be any better.

Will we ever create a third order, a new world view in which birth and death are both celebrated as festivals of mutation, transformation, and metamorphosis? Or will be we be condemned to this dark religion or secular shame forever?

2 thoughts on “On Suicide

  1. I agree with you in principle, I suppose, but the question for me is – who’s suicide? And also – am I really helping or just confirming someone’s temporary, and perhaps unfounded, despair? Is it a teenage boy who just broke up with his girlfriend and it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to him so far, making it feel unbearable? Is it someone in a hospital bed with a few weeks left to live in great pain? Is it someone with clinical depression who could use some companionship and support? It’s “logistically” murky to the extreme. “Life by any means necessary” is a pretty cruel injuction, no doubt, but it’s pretty hard for me to imagine feeling much joy over someone’s (un)timely demise without it being tainted by endless doubt. So, not quite disagreeing with you here, just unsure of the extent to which the taboo is really down to theological/secular piousness.

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    • It’s all good! Been reading a great deal of suicide literature, philosophy, various horror novels, fictions, etc. Just gathering the various strands from a pessimist take on it. I’m sure everyone will have their own take. Hell after reading 15 works from Camus to Amery; various sociological studies (Durkheim, etc.); psychological (Alvarez, etc.), religious, secular, etc. None agree on all points… so like much else it’s a personal solution rather than universal. And, I don’t try to impose my thought on anyone… I leave it up to everyone to make up their own mind of thoughts. Being a pessimist I know very few will buy into my own extreme versions of our present state of madness, sociopathy, and psychopathy. And, tell the truth, the universe being absolutely indifferent to us or our thoughts precludes there being any real meaning or value behind one’s decisions other than the ones we either choose for ourselves or have imposed on us by society at large. I have no axe to grind. Take it or leave it I say. 🙂

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