“Suicide by Death”- Introduction
January 4, 2016
Mark Anthony Waters
“The counterpart of the suicide is the seeker;
But the difference between them is slight.”
How many times have you considered killing yourself? One, two, three, five, ten? If you said never, you are a liar. At some point in our life, at least the thought has crossed your mind. All of the pressures of life, some pain along the way or maybe the loss of a loved one so close that the thought of going on without them seemed pointless. Self-talk also plays a significant role. You have convinced yourself that there are no rainbows and certain that the greener grass on the other side does not exist. Sadly, all that I cited is reason enough for some to end one’s own life. But wait, I believe there is one more motivator; the ultimate and indeed a final gotcha. I don’t need to explain that one. Some will read this and know what I mean.
I have had my fair share of suicides in my life; family members, friends and several acquaintances. In particular, was the death of my sister. It was very painful and came without warning. I recently turned sixty and at a point in life when people, especially around my age group and above are dropping like flies. Some of them were sick and dying and the rest are buying Centrum Silver by the case to prolong the inevitable. But suicide, that’s a whole new ballgame.
In death and I suppose other emotional trauma as well, it is said that there are five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When there is a suicide, I believe the first three come all at once and bargaining doesn’t even count. How could it? And last on the list is acceptance. That’s a toughie.
It tickles me when I hear someway say that so-and-so passed away. I knew full well that they committed suicide. That’s not passing away, — they blew their fucking brains out! Passing away is something you do in your sleep or drop dead because of a heart attack or die after an extended illness.
I have asked myself a thousand times, “Why does someone want to die more than they want to live?” For the ones that were successful, the question remains unanswered, but for those that weren’t, clues as to some of the “why’s” are answered to a degree.
My wife and I were talking about my book and that a lot of research needed to be done on the subject, and she was right. I told her about some of the papers and clinical data I had reviewed and she narrowed my research down to one sentence. “Their backs are against the wall and it is tall and wide and no way to escape from it. It’s an emotional glue that keeps them stuck to it.” In short, depression seemed to be the underlying theme as part of the reason “why” and a mind filled with hopelessness and despair.
My sister feared that no one would show up at her funeral. She doubted they’d fill a back-row pew in a small church. The courthouse where she worked, most of it closed to attend her funeral. She wanted a real motorcycle police escort and not the part-time ones from the funeral home, and she got it. As a bonus, a police honor guard was at her side and her colleagues served as pallbearers. The chapel was filled to capacity with standing room only, even I couldn’t find a seat. Who’d have thought? Obviously not her. I chose not to sit in the family section for personal reasons.
My father-in-law was killed in a tragic accident when my wife was nine. I’d heard, that he wasn’t a very triumphal guy; life had kicked him back a notch or two, I know because of some of the stories I’d been told. One day his son got his kite hung up on a power line and attempted to free it. Dad to the rescue. “Son! No!” He knew of the danger, took the rod away from him and tried to tap it down himself; it was some sort of metal rod. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even I know better than that. He was killed instantly. By the way, he was a Master Electrician.
My father was also miserable later in life. He had open-heart surgery for a valve replacement, and after a full recovery and about a year later he dropped dead. He started smoking, drinking, eating garbage and stopped taking life-saving medication.
In both of these scenarios, I’m not suggesting they committed suicide, what I am saying is both deaths were preventable and their acts that killed them seemed purposeful. Perhaps it was more like suicide by omission.
Others like my sister left no room for doubt that it was a suicide. They usually leave a dramatic note for loved ones or sometimes a voice recording. In my sister’s case, she left three letters. One for whoever found her. (She went to a nearby lake and shot self in the chest) The second was for the police exonerating her spouse for having anything to do with it. And the third to her husband that included a lot of crap. “I’ll always love you”; she didn’t. “I didn’t mean to do this”; yes, you did. “Take good care of the kids”; He didn’t. She left behind a little girl, five and a boy, seven. Photos of them surrounded her body and some lay in her lap.
Some have questioned the title, “Suicide by Death”. At first, I just thought it was a cute, sort of an artsy thing, but in the back of my head, I knew what it meant. For anyone that saw the movie Star Trek; Wrath of Khan, near the end Mr. Spock saves the ship but sacrifices his life in the process. Captain Kirk ran to Spock and tried to open a fuel chamber. Dr. McCoy, “Bones,” said it would flood the compartment of radiation and he and Scotty restrained the captain. As Kirk struggled to free himself, said, “He’ll die.” Scotty replied in his thick, Scottish accent, “Sir, he’s dead already.” At that time in the movie, he wasn’t dead yet and had enough time to share a personal moment with Kirk, but the fact remained that Spock was on his way out, death just needed to catch up. The way I see it, folks usually don’t pick up a gun and blow their heads off on a whim. It takes an amount of planning. And so it begins. You’ve already committed suicide in your mind; it only needs to be followed up with a bullet, noose, jumping off a bridge or whatever, then death’s bitter door swings wide open and welcomes you.
The character I’ve created, Clair, was no stranger to suicide. She has also had friends and family members that killed themselves; so many that she comically said to herself that it must be contagious. For several years, she has made it a professional career trying to end her own life. With many attempts and as many failures, now feels that she is once again at the end of her rope, and this time, a short rope it is.