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June 14, 2006

Contemplations On Killing Oneself

Suppose you wanted to kill yourself. (OK, fine, maybe you, you dear reader, with that reprehensible sunshiny disposition and revolting optimistic outlook are one of those despicable individuals who loves life too much to entertain that supposition.) Well, suppose I wanted to kill myself (a much more plausible notion). How might I (you) go about it? What should I (you) write in my (your) suicide note? Should I (you) even leave a note? As you can see, there are many many things to consider prior to undertaking such a major endeavor, and one should not be too hasty nor too impulsive (unless of course you only intend said endeavor as a cry for help, in which case I wish you best of luck in said endeavor).

The reason I bring any of this up, is that prior to today, hard as it is to believe, I had never really considered the notion of suicide. (Yes, I was a teenager; no, I wasn't a loser.) An article in this week's Economist about the popularity of the Golden Gate Bridge as a destination for the suicidal, however, got me thinking about it. I mean, I don't want to end up one day depressed and suicidal and not have considered the essentials! Let's just call it being prepared. I mean, you wouldn't enter a business deal without an exit strategy, so why enter life without one either?

Most people would probably assume that the most important thing to consider while contemplating suicide is the how. Should I (you) shoot myself? Hang myself (yourself)? Jump? Off a bridge? Off the Golden Gate bridge? A building? Into a train?1 Wimp out and take pills? I disagree. I would say the most important aspect to consider is the note. Your suicide note is the last legacy you have complete control over. Think about it: once you kill yourself, you no longer have control of what happens. Everything depends on who finds you and what they do about it. On the other hand, your suicide note is completely up to you. Will it be funny? Sad? Witty? Acrid? Irreverent? Blasphemous? Prose? Poetry? Iambic pentameter? Heroic couplets?2 The possibilities are endless!

Personally, were I to take my own life, a suicide note would be a must. I would probably start out with a depressing quote to get everyone in the mood: T.S. Eliot's Hollow Men or something similar from the Lost Generation comes to mind. Next, I would probably provide a terse summarization of the why—most people expect this from a suicide note—along the lines of veni vidi defeci.3 Really, what other reason is there.

Formalities dispensed with, I would then dedicate the rest of the note to matters of greater importance. First, I would have to ensure that the only possession of mine anyone really cares about (i.e., my photographs) are properly taken care. The easiest way to do this would probably be to create a complex riddle consisting of personal factoids and obscure references to classical novels, 19th century European history, movies, texts, and TV shows of yesteryear that, when solved, would lead someone who knows me well to my root password, thus allowing my prized data to be salvaged. Next, I would make a dubious attempt at sentimentality by giving props to people who mattered (i.e., Russian Cat People) over the years, and of course, people who sucked. Finally, I would make some incredulous mathematical assertion and claim to have proved it, but not give the proof. You know, like xn yn = zn has no non-zero integer solutions when n > 2.4 Bonus points if it has no direct use and takes more than 200 years to prove or disprove.

Suicide note completed . . . well, that's the most important part. Like I said, the how doesn't really matter to me. The Golden Gate Bridge thing sounds kind of cool, but then, reading that Economist article about some guy hitting the water at 75 mph and surviving makes me not want to do that. I mean, seriously, that would hurt! Plus, what if by some bad turn of luck, I became the 27th person to survive a suicide attempt from the Golden Gate Bridge. How pathetic. Never, ever, ever attempt suicide and fail. What does that say about you? You can't even properly kill yourself? Man! Talk about failing in life.

^ 1 Don't be an asshole. Just because your life sucks doesn't mean you are justified in ruining everyone else's commute.
^ 2 That would be so freakin' awesome.
^ 3 I came, I saw, I failed (I think).
^ 4 Fermat's Last Theorem


wouldn't i came, i saw, i disliked be so much more powerful?

I'd also say a line by the Simpsons would be necessary: "you tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try." Of course make the quote self referential, or write the note in the 3rd person.

Also, I was on a bike ride and I decided to go out onto the GGB for my first time ever. When I was up there, I was thinking, "man, I could make it. It doesn't look that far." It wasn't a suicide thought, but rather thinking how awesome it would be to jump and make it and be in that elite group of survivors. However, I was under the belief that no one had ever made the jump. It doesn't seem as cool anymore if other people would be in the group.

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