“When one realizes that his life is worthless, he either commits suicide or travels.” Edward Dahlberg
As a boy, I often had thoughts of suicide. Not for myself, mind you. I had them for everyone around me. I even sent notes listing why these people should kill themselves, starting with the fact that I didn’t like them.
Over the course of my life, I think I’ve suggested suicide to about 10,000 people, starting with every president, prime minister and bureaucrat. Mostly I do it to the television, saying “Why don’t you kill yourself?”
As hard as I’ve tried to convince them, nobody takes me seriously. This has led to the undesirable effect of making me want to commit suicide. I even threw myself on a box of fireworks once. A family dragged me off, then beat the hell out of me for ruining their night. Now I’m listed as a Victoria Day suicide risk in three counties and Disneyland.
One day they’ll probably dig up some religious parchment, possibly with the words “Sayeth no to suicideth.”
Suicide, even by name, suggests a less than appropriate response to the day’s trials and tribulations. The Bible says it’s a sin. Back in biblical times it probably was a sin. There weren’t a lot of people in those days. If you managed to dodge plagues, drought, famine and wars, churches wanted to keep you around. Healthy people were needed to procreate, make the congregation bigger, and the church richer. One day they’ll probably dig up some religious parchment, possibly with the words “Sayeth no to suicideth.”
Today, suicide isn’t so much a sin as an inconvenience. People lead busy lives, and stopping everything to, say, drag you off a box of fireworks, really puts a dent in their texting and television viewing.
Besides, nobody wants to deal with suicide. Guns are messy, sleeping pills are melodramatic, and jumping off bridges is stupid. There’s no easy way to commit suicide outside of getting in Woody Allan’s Orgazmitron, and staying longer than the recommended 20 minutes, which is more than enough to kill most people.
I could be spontaneous and just do it, but I’m not terribly spontaneous, and when you lack spontaneity, suicide is a bitch.
The alternative is to do what I do, and that’s procrastinate. Any time I feel the suicidal urge, I give myself a date, which I inevitably forget. I’m one of those people who always forgets dates. I’m also the type who says, “I’ll remember,” which I never do, so I consistently forget when to kill myself — and sometimes why.
I could be spontaneous and just do it, but I’m not terribly spontaneous, and when you lack spontaneity, suicide is a bitch. You can’t be a second-guesser. If you are, killing yourself is like building a new addition on the house. It’s a big undertaking, and I’m just not into big undertakings.
Procrastination also gives me time to realize I’ve accomplished quite a bit by sticking around. Not as much as some, but certainly more than those presidents, prime minsters and bureaucrats I wished dead. I’ve softened a bit on George W. Bush, since he hasn’t done anything to rile me lately.
In any case, there’s a trick to suicide avoidance, one anyone can practice without losing television time.
There are considerable benefits associated with suicide avoidance, starting with the fact that I’m not dead. People who know me aren’t impressed by this, since they’re pretty sure I wished them dead at one time or another.
In any case, there’s a trick to suicide avoidance that anyone can practice without losing television time.
First, train yourself to make any suicide moveable. Set a date, then write it down, putting it somewhere you’ll easily forget. When you do find it — probably months later — you can say, “Oh, yeah, I was going to kill myself.”
Do that for say, 64 years, and you’ll realize suicide isn’t timely. In fact, you can push that date back and forth any time you like. Nobody will be any the wiser (or care, really).
Secondly, add up all the things you’ve done since you planned to commit suicide. Forget the stupid stuff. We all do stupid stuff. Concentrate on the good things, the ones you never would have experienced if you’d jumped off a bridge (not that jumping off a bridge isn’t an experience in itself).
In a state of reflection, you realize things aren’t as bad as they seem. If they are, I’d certainly recommend the Orgazmitron over guns or jumping off bridges.
Thirdly, follow the procrastinator’s rule that anything you do today can be done next week — or the next Ice Age.
Removing deadlines lets us relax and be more reflective. In this state, we realize things aren’t as bad as they seem. If they are, I’d certainly recommend the Orgazmitron over guns and jumping off bridges.
Fourthly, keep “feel good” sayings around, the kind you see on Facebook. When you see something like “Live for today, lust for tomorrow,” take comfort knowing this is nonsense. People who believe adages probably haven’t had a suicidal thought in their lives. You, on the other hand, know that most cute aphorims were written by suicidal people trying to buck themselves up.
Finally, here are eight sayings you can feel good about, since they probably drove other people to suicide or made them severe pessimists:
“You’re the bee’s knees”: Bees don’t have knees.
“Always believe something wonderful is going to happen”: The tax department will throw crap on this every time.
“The best is yet to come”: So’s nuclear war.
“Women don’t really get old when they age, they only get better”: No elderly woman in a state of sobriety believes this.
“Joyful laughter and sound sleep will cure any illness”: Not venereal disease, I’ve tried.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”: At a certain age, goals and dreams revolve around keeping your underwear dry.
“I still fall in love with you every day”: Either you ran the credit card over $5,000 or you have a venereal disease.
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it”: Actually, I like this one. Groucho Marx. Thought you could use a laugh before signing off.
Robert Cormack is a novelist, journalist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (now in paperback). Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.