I remember the day quite well. It was cold and blustery. I was alone at a friend’s ranch in the boondocks of Wyoming. In terms of isolation, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining comes to mind.
For the first time, I was about to fantasize about the specifics of killing myself. Why this day and not sooner? Perhaps hopelessness needs time to fester.
Regarding suicide, people think, they plan, and then they acquire the means to do it. And at some point they become resolute and just bide their time for the “right” moment. I never became resolute, never fully committed––God’s grace!––and as some sort of defensive mechanism, my brooding on that day––which you’re about to read––is a combination of cynicism, dark humor, melancholy, sadness, absurdity and God knows what.
By the way, fueled by beer which clearly reduced my inhibitions. I’ve never asked a shrink about this but perhaps I was keeping the unfathomable at arm’s length so my writing wasn’t wretchedly maudlin. Or a ranting against humanity. Or an exercise in victim-hood. Maybe I assumed it would be read so I merely wanted to entertain.
First an apology. Suicide is a serious and tragic issue that affects millions. The associated pain for those left is incalculable especially because of the unanswered questions. My heart aches for those folks. I’m also sensitive to the fact that some readers will think me irreverent. However, my blog is, if anything, honest. But I do push the envelope. Therefore, since I process life differently than most, the following may be somewhat unexpected.
But I’m trying to reveal a possible mindset. The resolute potential suicide victim may express similar thoughts to what follows. They may be cavalier, joking, or relaxed. In total control perhaps. It often happens that a family is caught off guard when the victim finally commits the suicidal act.
And a writer in a self-destructive mindset with a pen in hand? Some real examples:
- Jerzy Kosinski, a Polish-American novelist. He wrote, “I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call it Eternity.”
- Mitchell Heisman—35 year old who held a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Albany University. His suicide note was notable due to its unconventional format; at 1,905 pages, spanning topics concerning (and not limited to) human nature, society, religion, technology and science, the suicide “note” was more akin to a grand philosophical tome.
- Russian poet Sergei Esenin (1895-1925) wrote an entire poem in his own blood that served as suicide note.
One last comment on suicide notes:
“In a study of genuine suicide notes versus simulated (non-resolute or fake perhaps) ones, the genuine notes are much more specific about giving directives concerning property distribution and insurance policies and more concerned with the pain and suffering of others. They are more likely to express psychological pain and more likely to use “love” in their texts. The simulated notes give greater details about the motives of suicide, mention the act of suicide itself, and more often use euphemistic phrases for death and suicide.”
Now, my journal from that period. I wrote this stuff in my darkest moments. Please stay with me. God did.
Upwards of 1,000,000 Americans attempt suicide in the course of a year; only four percent or so succeed. Bad implementation or lousy commitment? Allow my twisted brain to be ghoulish for a moment; it’s one of those days. If one of these half-hearted mortals reconsidered and wanted to go out in style, I have a suggestion. They could spray their brains onto a framed white canvas by means of a German Luger.
Perhaps the brain splatter will be considered art, especially if it’s titled “Out To Lunch” and curiously numbered 1 of 2. To the extent there is a gallery sale of this masterpiece deep in the heart of SoHo, one’s beloved may benefit monetarily. Sick yes, but financial planning is a dispassionate business.
Could I be as bold as the artist? No, I need to be methodical, less dramatic. First, I don’t want to forget anything important. I’ll outline instructions for the person that discovers me. I’ll work up another sheet for my brothers. Most likely, they’ll handle the incidentals. Alternatively, I’ve thought of treasured friends who would be capable of carrying out my last wishes, but they’re not family. I’m not their responsibility or obligation. Furthermore, it’s going to take time to both finalize my affairs and plant me in the ground and they all have lives to live. We’ll cut them some slack.
The only way I can reconcile what I’m planning is obvious. I’m nuts. No person in their right mind is going to take their life. When I meet my Maker, He has to forgive me, right? Maybe the worst thing that happens is a stern look from God.
I’m going to leave my dog Lani with neighbors. I’ll tell them I have to travel for an interview. In my brotherly instructions, I’ll indicate with whom I want Lani to live permanently. I know the perfect couple. They’ll give her a wonderful home. Saying good-bye to her for the last time is going to be unbearable. I don’t think I can drop her off without a total breakdown so I’ll make sure the neighbors aren’t home when I bring her by. Don’t want to embarrass myself. And don’t want to let on that things aren’t rosy.
The instructions will be on two pieces of paper. I’ll print the first instructions in red font; the second set will be black. That way, there won’t be any confusion. The red sheet will be for the poor bastard that finds me; I won’t make his day. I’ll tell him whom to call and other logistical notes and I’ll absolutely emphasize he’s to tell everyone I’m not to be cremated. My brothers and I cremated my mother and we never should have. We weren’t thinking. I may be certifiable but I haven’t forgotten that I believe in the resurrection of the body.
The black sheet will be comprehensive. It will itemize my assets and liabilities and give my brothers permission to forage and plunder my estate. To the extent there’s any money left after selling my home and settling debts, I want them to give it to a church.
The house will be in order, neat and tidy. I’ll run the dishwasher, put all the dishes away and make doubly sure the bathrooms are hotel clean. I’ll turn the temperature down in that being somewhat vain, I don’t want someone to find me after a week of decomposing in sweltering heat. I’ll look like a bloated sea lion. To that point, I’ve figured out a way to sound the death summons after one day.
I’ll set my alarm for twenty-four hours hence and place it in the garage window, cracking it slightly. My alarm can mimic everything from a bubbling brook to crashing surf to an aviary but for this special moment, I’m thinking of bugles leading a cavalry charge. When the alarm goes off, the cavalry storms the citadel and I’m discovered in a reasonable amount of time.
Now, I have decisions to make.
Casual or formal wear? Shoes on or off? In a chair? On a bed? Pills, guns, gas or razor blades? Heavy on the cologne in case I smell? Mozart’s “Requiem Mass” playing in background? Should I tattoo my final words on my chest? Should I leave a note that says I was murdered? Should I draw a chalk outline? Should I hold a flower in my hand? Should I die in the living room? Empty or full stomach? Mexican or Italian? Is anyone going to stop me?
Enough of this craziness.
My next post. The conclusion of Self Murder. God’s Grace! It’s here.