You know the voice in your head that tells you when something is a bad idea? My voice is apparently a late sleeper and only chimes in long after I’ve already followed through with the bad idea. It is almost certainly asleep right now. And since it’s quiet, I can do whatever I want, such as post this little meditation. Later, when I can’t sleep, we’ll all know what’s keeping me up.
On Thanksgiving, as thoughts turn to gratitude, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for suicide. I do not expect many to understand this, but suicide – or rather the thought of suicide – is a source of comfort. Knowing that the possibility of escape exists reduces the horror of the future. There is consolation in knowing that if it stays bad – or becomes worse – there is a way out. We are not trapped in this life, this world. We can take control of our own fate, rather than waiting for the world to end our misery. This is no small comfort. This awareness also makes it possible to make it one more day. I can give the world more time precisely because I know I can cut that time short. Knowing that I can end the pain whenever I want gives me some reason for trying just a little longer.
Our society generally treats suicide as either immoral or an irrational act or, paradoxically, both. The suicide threatens our view of life. Perhaps it is not as good, not as desirable as we want to believe. It is not enough for only some to love life; everyone must share in – and by sharing, confirm – that love of life. The suicide threatens to undermine our (often uncritical) view of the value of life.
Yet the suicide is not offering a general condemnation of life. The suicide declares that their life is not worth it, not that no one’s life is. The act of murdering others is a judgment on the worth of their lives, but the suicide only makes a judgment for their own life. Of course we may disagree about their estimation of their life’s worth, but that is made from the external perspective, not the internal. But the internal evaluation is the one that matters. For I am the one who must live my life; no one else can do that for me.
Taking away the possibility of suicide then, is to take away the comfort it offers. The knowledge that I am free to make a different judgment on my life makes it easier to hold off making that final judgment. Those who absolutely reject suicide, will reject this notion as well. But that rejection, that desire not to contemplate suicide is already sufficient to avoid the fate of the suicide. The judgment of the suicide is irrelevant to them, and not something to fear. The value of an individual’s life, to that individual, can only be decided by that individual. The suicide’s judgment, then, has no bearing on your judgment. But the reverse is also true.
The hope then, offered by suicide, is merely the knowledge that tomorrow can be the last day. So there is nothing to lose by seeing what today has to offer. And the moment it all becomes unbearable, finally, there is an escape. Until that moment, perhaps there is something that might make it better.