punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Parallel Universe - What If I Had Succeeded at Suicide?

Comedienne Rita Rutner has a bit where she was depressed, and wanted to take her own life, and an angel tried to stop her by showing her what the world would be if she had never been born. It turned out the world would have been much better, and the angel was forced to apologize. I get a chuckle out of that, but it gets me thinking about my youth, and why I am glad I never committed suicide.

Last suicide attempt was at age 14, about 20 years ago. I still suffer from depression, and while I haven't entertained suicidal threats in ages, when I get into that black corner of my mood, there's always that self-checking mechanism, "You don't want to end your life, do you?" No, thank you. Too much to do, too many people would be hurt, and now it seem so over dramatic.

I was what a lot of adults called at the time "high risk" suicidal. I had barely any friends, and certainly no friends I could confide deeply in. Okay, that's not true, I *could* have confided deeply in one of my friends, but he was living in Texas and I was afraid... see, this is why I was high risk: I never told ANYONE I was suicidal. Never. Why? Because I had a realistic sense that someone might try to stop me. And I truly wanted to die. Or at least, I wanted that option open. And I took advantage of that option several times. Looking back on it, I think it was my only sense of control.

A few years ago, I visited that place in my memory. My friend Neal in Texas and I sent tape letters back and forth, and while none of the tapes had "I hate my life, boo hoo" in them, I could tell by connected memories what was going on in my house at that time. I used my skills from years of watching too many SciFi plots to construct an alternate universe, based on how my parents reacted at the time, applied psychological knowledge and experience of others in positions similar to theirs, and how my father reacted after my mother's suicide. It would have gone something like this:

Age 13. Depressed over-reacting some school-related failure, I took my own life. First, depending on when I actually did it, it might take a while for anyone to notice. If my mother was sober, I'd say within 24 hours. If she was drunk, it might be several days, possibly as long as a week before my father would probably have noticed the smell (his business trips were never longer than a week). The school would most likely be the first to notice, but would have called during the day. If mother was passed out, she wouldn't have answered, and we didn't have a machine back then. But let's give them a head start, and say they discovered within 2 days.

Of course, my mother would have been upset as all hell. She would have mourned for me the loudest. My father would be disgusted, but I think a little relieved that I was gone. He would console my mother, and my mother would have had it together enough to do a funeral. I think most of the neighborhood, and possible some of the people at school, would have attended. News of my death would first reach the nosy people in our neighborhood. Depending on luck and the skills honed by years of prying gossip, the Women's Club of Southridge would have either found out or guessed, and soon the neighborhood would know. My parents CERTAINLY would have never told them, and since my suicides usually were self-poisoning attempts, they would have called it an "accidental overdose" or something. "Little Gregory thought those pills were candy, he didn't know..." I could see my mother saying to herself in desperate conviction, no matter what the coroner's report said. There would be a lot of people at the funeral, because my mother was well-liked, and a lot of people felt sorry for her, too. They felt sorry such a nice person was married to someone like my dad, and they felt sorry that she was the mother of "That Larson Boy," who had been described as "Awkward: a little odd, and kind of sad. A product of his environment, no doubt." Most still feel that same way, I can see it if I visit them. Like, "I hope I don't catch his weirdness in my house..."

The whole circus would be over in a week. I doubt any of the kids would have been told, but the news would spread that "That Larson Kid" had died via parents who found out. Although many would have guessed, based on gossip, that I took my own life, or maybe just was on drugs anyway ("that strange Larson kid") and overdosed while listening to Lynard Skynard (for the record, I never listed to Lynard Skynard, but that was the dramatic suicide background music of choice back then before MTV and the great 80s ballads, so I am sure that's how others of my age group would have pictured it). Depending on reaction, maybe the school would have had counseling available, but I know they would have really tried to hush the whole thing up, and since I didn't have friends at that time, I wouldn't have been missed. My mother would be okay for a short while, then give into heavy drinking again. My father would attempt to erase all memory of me, taking down my pictures and so on, in attempt to ease my mother's depression (as cruel as he was, I think he did love her), and also so he wouldn't have to think about me. My friend Neal would have eventually called from Texas, worried that he hadn't gotten letters from me in months, and wondered if he made me mad or something. Then he would have been told that "Gregory died a few months ago... I thought someone would have told you by now." Neal probably would have been the second most upset after my mother. After about a year, he'd get angry at the thought he once had a kid, probably trying to erase the whole thing as a "bad mistake," which, of course, he was not capable of.

After so many years, my mother probably would have taken her own life, too, following the same track as now. My father probably would have been left almost unaltered by the experience than he is today. Memories of me would have been reduced to an anecdote in Neal's life about how he made friends with this kid who died, and he's not sure how, but maybe his father killed him or something. of course, the ripples that went through time would have magnified:

I would have never met Christine. She would have a totally different life, and while I don't want to sound boastful, probably not nearly as good of one. My son would have never been born. All those friends I talked out of suicide and bad acid trips might have died. I know my friends Jamie and Kathy would never have met and gotten married. No one would have taken care of my grandmother's last wishes. All that comedy that I wrote that people liked would have never made anyone feel happy. Untold changes in the lives of people I care about. Pets I took in might have been gassed at the pound, died early as strays, or never known the peace of sleeping by a humans' head, knowing you're safe. My fair readers, you wouldn't be reading this blog.

I am glad I never committed suicide. And to people out there who are reading this, if a schmuck like me can finally make it good, you can, too.

Last Thoughts
Look, the brutal and honest truth is that suicide is over dramatic and selfish. I never knew really what that meant until I had to clean up after one. It's selfish because you killed somebody, you never had to face the aftermath, and someone else gets to suffer because you couldn't get help. Suicide as the "ultimate form of self-criticism" assumes that others care about what you are critiquing. And if they care, then don't kill yourself. I don't care how false and shallow the world is, no one is going to change because you died, and then it was all for nothing. I have seen many suicide aftermaths, and all that ends up happening is people get upset, then they feel better, and then go on without you, probably doing the same things they always have. In fact, your death will probably be nothing more than a comedy of the media, and a mockery of whatever to were trying to convey via your morbid choice of artistic medium. Then all you end up being is an anecdote, and then forgotten (ever hear about many famous suicides? Neither have I...).

I mean, if you really want to die, and die because you really can't stand living (look, the afterlife isn't any better after a suicide, in fact, it's worse), then do us all a favor and die either doing something dangerous but useful (being a fireman, fighting crime, something like that), or at the very least make it look like an accident. Suicide is a form of murder, and it ooks people out if they think you ended that way, and if that's what you intended, then you deserve what is facing you as you approach that white tunnel and realize: "Uh oh... Oh, MAN, what a dumbass I was!" Total separation from worldly burdens have a way of exposing the universal truth behind everything, and the last human though through your head was how you wished you knew then what you know... what? Mommy? God?

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000023.html
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