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Robin Williams. Fashion designer, Kate Spade. Aaron Swartz, a
prodigal computer programmer, political organizer, and internet
hacktivist hung himself at 26 years old. In 2017, it’s estimated 1.4
million of U.S. attempted suicide, and over 120 a day actually
succeed in killing themselves. Suicide is the 5th leading
cause of death globally, after cancer, car crashes, and HIV.*
living is a choice we all make every day we live.
4,000 of U.S. will consider suicide today. Have you? I have. Not once
or twice during hard times, and in passing, but many times throughout
my lifetime, from my tween years, likely till I die. Yet, virtually
daily, I make a conscious choice to stay living.
don’t believe in any higher power than the laws of physics. There is
no “Jealous God” (Exodus
34:14) watching, or judging our behavior
from ‘beyond’. There is no heaven or hell. I’ve never been able to
pretend we are more than the collection of cells that make up our
bodies and consciousness. I can choose to go hang myself in the
doorjamb of my office after I finish writing this blog without fear
of damnation. The only eternal soul we possess is humanity’s hope
that we matter past our limited time alive. But we don’t. Not really,
beyond our affect on the lives we touch while we are living, like our
family, and a handful of friends and colleagues. Even if you’ve done
DNA ancestry, other than their genetic contribution to your
existence, your dead lineage are names in a ledger, nothing more.
dark a view for ya? It ain’t depression. It’s reality, and a scary
one knowing that regardless of what we believe, our life adds up to
what we DO with our short time of awareness.
we really have very little effect on, well, anything beyond
our small realm. Even those who have ‘made it,’ like the opening list
of celebrities, most will be forgotten over time, and lost to later
generations. And we’ll never even know the names of most innovators,
especially women, who invented the tech we use today.
the religious reader, this blog probably isn’t for you. I’ve likely
lost you in the opening bit, as suicide in most sects is a ‘sin’. If
you are a true believe, it is equally likely you won’t off yourself.
The only reason to continue reading is if you want to help someone
who seems like they may.
you know if someone is suicidal? You don’t, and likely won’t. Each of
the above celebs were either flat out rich, wealthy, or at the very
least financially ‘comfortable.’ So, it wasn’t poverty that drove
them to suicide. They ‘made it’ doing what they loved, instead of a
lifetime at some crappy job just to pay the rent. Yet, each made a
choice to die. Why?
day I make a conscious choice to keep living, but a lot of days the
choice to stay is hard. Very hard. Some days, hope drives me with
purpose, that I can make a positive contribution to those I touch.
But other days, on days where it feels as if I reach no one, or I get
nothing done, or humanity is doomed to our own stupidity, hope
it up. Walk away. Stop trying so hard. You’re getting nowhere. If
there is nothing beyond death, and what I do doesn’t really matter in
the scheme of things, then why not just check out, be done.
At times, my life feels as if it defaults to the mean of hardship,
and I obsess about exiting the scene, fading to black.
you stop the voices of fear, either before they ramp, or even after
they do, when you look up from your laptop to notice you aren’t
breathing? I think of checking out, conjure my exit strategy. I
imagine I’m taking pills, or maybe going into the garage, turning on
my car and rolling down the windows.
picture coming on to the oxycontin, or choking on carbon monoxide,
then throwing up, then blacking out. Then nothing. Ever again. No
awareness, no consciousness once the neurons stop firing. No taking
it back. No second chance. No waking up. Feel nothing, ever again. Or
I try and feel what it feels like to feel nothing, but
obviously, this is an oxymoron. Living and feeling are synonymous, as
are death and nonexistence.
I’ve lost all belief in myself, my work, my world, I’m left with only
one reason that keeps me here. Regardless of how lost I feel, how
insignificant, how hopeless, I hold on to the one truth I know is
day I make a conscious choice to stay living—to FEEL.
is all about FEELING—glad, sad, mad, good, bad, proud, humbled,
jealous, accomplished. And the list goes on… I get to feel them
all, and many more throughout my lifetime, expressed in a thousand
ways. Enjoying chocolate mint ice cream while watching TV. In awe of
natural wonders. Heartbroken with loss. Swooning in love. From the
physical to the surreal, we all get to feel—experience being alive.
away the religious sales pitch that rewards us for charitable
behavior, in exchange for an eternity in paradise. Ignore the social
pressure that tell us our value lies our physicality, or our job
title, or the acquisition of wealth. Let
go of the pretense we are going to make a substantive
difference to anyone beyond our small circle of connections. And the
point of living becomes to feel
the moments of our life.
nothing ever again—will come, regardless if I hasten it. The
permanence of suicide becomes daunting when I consider I’d never get
to taste anything again. I’d never see, smell, or feel rain on my
skin, or someone hold my hand. If I take my own life, I kill even the
possibility of change, and finding ways to enjoy more moments of my
teeter on the edge of suicide when all reason and purpose has
abandoned me. But you can help me during these times, or others who
stand at precipice of ending their life. When I’m consumed by doubt,
black and sticky, pulling me under, please don’t tell me to “Hang
in there, it’ll get better.” It feels like bullshit in those
moments of darkness. With empathy, simply remind me to FEEL.