The living may not “like” it, but suicide is not necessarily “bad or “wrong”…
Hold on to your bootstraps because we’re going to rapid-fire this one, due to the fact that my wife has issued a personal challenge to me to finish at least one of the 22 different books I’ve started in the course of my short adventurous life. I’ve always maintained that “writing” — proper writing or authoring of proper books and such, is “something I will do when I am older”. To me it was enough to take plenty of notes on each and every book that came to me, a discipline that I’ve stuck with diligently for more than twenty years now. I do everything necessary to eventually write the book at some point. Except actually write it. I just always figured that writing was something I would fall back on once I got too old to make music for a living. But for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that making music for a living has fast become an oxymoron due to ever increasing faltering sales and revenue growth in general in the music business; it would appear that “when I’m older” time period I envisioned for the last twenty years or so may have finally arrived to the here-now.
I must admit, I mean it’s only fair, that it does seem a bit odd that some of these 22 odd books that I have completed in various stages and have up to 400 or more pages typed within them — (thousands in the case of The Adventures of Fishy series…) and I have still yet to complete or release one of them. THIS is what so confounds my wife. And I can totally understand her frustration. Especially since I still find time to write in these here Transcendence Diaries on a regular basis. Ahhhh, I’d be a very rich man indeed if I had a nickel for every time over the last year or two Princess Little Tree has said to me “if you would just write the exact same number of pages in one or more of your books as you write in your Diaries every week, then you’d be finished with half the books already! Maybe all of them! So just get to it boy!” And i fully admit that I see the logic in that.
Though you’ve heard me say this before… I don’t just enjoy writing the Transcendence Diaries. I need to write them. There’s something very therapeutic about the process for me. Yes it’s occurred to me more than once that there is probably a lot more money in finishing small to medium sized books than there are in these Diaries… (the fact is there is very little to no money to be made in a blog — especially the kind of non-commercial, not-sponsored one that I demand to run). It’s also occurred to me that there may be something of an “instant gratification fix” to these Diaries that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to obtain from finishing a book. After all, I am able to write these entries in ONE sitting, anywhere from 500 to 5,000 words, and release it all in one go of it. From thought to expression in a matter of minutes to hours. One fulfilling mental and emotional release. No need to ever go back and review or edit or amend. And certainly no concern for readability or demographics or target audience or the potential for publication or other mass consumption worries. It’s a very selfish endeavor, I admit. But again… it’s MY endeavor. And in years or decades from now, when they look back and say “you know there wasn’t one damned thing he DIDN’T write about in all those years in those damn Diaries?!” my ghost, wherever it shall be, will surely be smiling. Maintaining these Transcendence Diaries over the last 13 years has been a thoroughly satisfying process.
But alas it is true. I have promised to complete at least one or more of the books this summer. So I am trying my best to refrain from coming here to whittle away the hours in self obsession. But sometimes I just have to. Right this very minute is one of those moments. And I’ll tell you why.
Over the last few days the world of social media has lit up in a way that we have NEVER seen before. It could be because of the subject matter — namely the death of Robin Williams, OR it could just be that we are presently peaking in the social media aspect of the Personal Expression Age. My guess is that it’s a little bit of both. But for whatever reason, social media is abuzz with posts and articles related in one way or another to Robin Williams and his alleged “suicide”. Today I was studying a graph that showed that there were over 5,000 articles a day being released online in the United States related to Robin Williams on Tuesday and Wednesday. That figure has calmed down over the last 48 hours. To a mere 2,000 or so. Still an amazing quantity of information and opinion being created over one subject.
For me personally the most heinous aspect — and there have been many — of this phenomenon has been the number of people who have felt compelled to come on one platform or another and bitch about how “selfish or cowardly Robin Williams is for committing suicide”. I know I know… People don’t have anything better to do, and God bless them for having a platform to express their emotions. Lord only knows how these impassioned feelings would be expressed if it weren’t for social media. Things could be a lot worse. People are FEELING a lot right now and need to get it out. People just want to have a voice.
After all, THIS is exactly what the Personal Expression Age is all about — giving people a voice who never have had one historically and would normally never have one. Lord knows I appreciate that aspect of the Age. I think it’s more than healthy. For ALL of us. Especially for those who would otherwise be victims of those who can’t find any other vehicle for their emotional need to vent. But this one meme, the idea of Williams somehow being wrong or bad or irresponsible or at fault because he decided to choose suicide is really rubbing me the wrong way. For several different reasons, not just one.
Before we go there though, let us first just collectively vent how annoying this new fad of coming onto social media and giving speeches about depression and addiction has become. My God. What an obnoxious craze this is. As if all of a sudden, literally overnight, everybody and their brother is an expert in mental health. I think we can all agree that engaging in an intelligent discourse about depression is healthy for the country and for our species in general. God knows we’ve hit some bumps in the road with it in the past. Remember that whole Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields fiasco a few years ago? But this has gotten way out of hand. All of a sudden everyone is an expert on depression. Shooting out hotline numbers and even their own cell phone numbers, saying things like “I promise I’ll take your call and get you through the night to the next day.” I’m not making this up. I’ve read this more than once. If you’re alive and breathing, surely you too have been reading the same type of posts or similar ones.
Besides just being generally annoying, can we step back for a moment and acknowledge that we don’t even know the real story yet regarding how Williams died? Sure his wife and publicist ran for the throttle in order to control how the story was going to be told. Whose family wouldn’t? Especially when dealing with a franchise as large and profitable as Williams’ is. So they’ve got the whole world discussing “depression” before we even have ample evidence of HOW he died. Yes they claim it was “suicide”… But considering the other options, as non-preferable as suicide is, it surely seems the better option. Better than “he was really high and just screwing around” or “accidental asphyxiation” or “accidental death due to drug overdose”. All of which are perfectly legitimate options still. The truth is we just won’t know until the whole story comes out. And that’s IF and WHEN the whole story comes out, IF it ever does.
Another question that comes to mind is this one: Where the hell was Williams’ wife during those 14 hours that he was allegedly alone in the house? She immediately posted that she lost her “husband and best friend” after his death was announced, and we know that he was in rehab at the time for possibly regressing back to “using”; so what kind of wife or “best friend” goes to bed at 10 PM, wakes up in the morning and leaves the house to “run errands” without first checking in on her husband who’s STILL IN rehab for substance abuse? Especially if they’re “best friends”? And especially if he “was suffering from severe depression” as she is so wanting to make sure the public is aware of?
I must admit that I personally have had a tough time with just the story that she “went to bed in another room and left Williams by himself in his office at 10 PM”. Even that seems strange for a married couple. Especially when one of them is so apparently “sick”. And especially if they are “best friends”. I know my wife and I have never encountered that scenario in all our years of marriage. If I ever regressed in my staying off of drugs you better believe that there isn’t a chance in hell that Princess Little Tree would ever leave me alone in my office at 10 o’clock at night and go to bed without making sure that I came to bed with her. And let’s say that they had some sort of altercation or argument in that moment, as some have suggested — she was mad and went to bed by herself alone and hurt, one would think that she would still come straight to his room in the morning just to see what he was doing or how he was doing, considering that he was officially checked into a rehab facility at the time. ESPECIALLY if he was “severely depressed” as she claims.
Frankly the whole story just doesn’t vibe. Now that we have had some time to recover from the shock of it all, the pieces of the puzzle just aren’t adding up. But eventually I am sure we will learn what really happened. Like many, I personally am not expecting a clean toxicology report. In fact, I admit that I believe that part of me is maybe even HOPING for some substances to be in his body just to make sense of the whole thing… I assume this is just denial on my part. A hidden desire to not believe that Williams was THAT depressed and THAT discouraged… to have gone THAT far. Suicide seems so drastic major and final.
The whole affair seems a bit like Williams’ wife and publicist got together very quickly over the phone to strategically plan HOW they would spin the discussion around his death. And to be fair, they’ve done’ a fantastic job of it so far. The whole country is busy talking about “depression” instead of any of the other details regarding the case like where SHE was, or more importantly where she wasn’t; and why the hell was Williams found in such a strange position? Seated but with a belt around his neck for God’s sake? And we’re supposed to believe this was a suicide? But he was seated?
One would think that if he really intended suicide that he would have implemented a more elegant way to do it, especially someone of his wealth. He could have easily obtained — most likely already had in his possession — plenty of pharmaceuticals to do the trick in a much cleaner manner. IF this was deliberate. So why the belt around the neck? Seated in a chair? Seriously? Suicide? I don’t know… Just seems a bit sketchy. Suicides for people in Williams’ position are usually of the cleaner more elegant pharmaceutical kind. A belt around the neck sounds more like what you me and everyone else doesn’t care to admit: that he was high, got a little screwed up in the head, was just fucking around and next thing you know he stopped breathing and didn’t know it.
But even if it WAS that, how and why would we love the man any less? That’s what gets me about all these self righteous know it alls popping up all of a sudden making all these claims that they suddenly dislike Williams because of how he died. Fucking a talk about fair weather friends. If you WERE a fan, then why not be a FAN now? What’s the difference? Whether he did it on purpose or he was just fucking around and killed himself by accident, either way it’s sad if you’re a fan or even just a compassionate human being.
Let us say that we believe the current narrative. Just out of respect for the deceased if for no other reason. What the hell is wrong with these people coming on social media saying that they “don’t respect Robin Williams anymore” or “will never look at him the same way now” or “his legacy will always be tainted now in my book”. These are all direct quotes of things I’ve read online over the last 48 hours from various people. Some more than others are writing lengthy rants about how deathly tragic the situation is AND at the same time demonizing Williams for choosing to commit suicide. They’ve fallen for the story hook line and sinker AND have now taken to being judge and jury about the ethical and criminal nature of suicide, some calling it “cowardly”, others calling it “the most selfish act someone can take”, and still others claiming that “murder is a crime, so isn’t it just as criminal to kill one’s self?” I am not making this up. Human beings continue to amaze with their short-sightedness, ignorance and arrogance.
Before we go demonizing Robin Williams for “choosing” suicide, we need to first be sure that that’s what happened. But let’s say that we just assume it is, out of respect for him and his family… IF that’s truly what transpired, shouldn’t we examine the finer points of the matter of suicide first? Before we go casting judgment?
Number one, since when did we collectively decide that LIFE, or being alive here in this form on planet earth, was the end-all be-all BEST option for everyone? You may have to step back for this one, but think about it: WE the living only know life, so we choose to believe that “life” is the best of all possible worlds for ourselves and everyone else. But do we really KNOW this for sure? That “life” in this form is the best of all possible options?
If we can all admit that we have no idea what else may possibly lay on the other side of death…. then perhaps everyone would quiet down and contemplate more how Williams and plenty of others were feeling at the time of their “suicide”…. Perhaps they were thinking that life on the other side might be better than it is here. We really don’t know without a suicide note of some kind. We can only guess. And at best we can give the person at least a wee bit of the benefit of the doubt.
Let’s be honest, almost everyone claims to believe in some kind of an “afterlife”. Most people choose to believe in a GOOD afterlife of some kind in fact, something akin to “heaven” or nirvana or “union with God or The Divine” usually. So the question is, what would be so bad about that? What would be so bad about a person choosing to go to heaven a few years early if that’s what they so decide?
Even if someone doesn’t believe in heaven but instead believes in an afterlife comprised of some kind of a spirit world, or an afterlife as a waiting station for reincarnation… all of these different options still present a relatively healthy alternative to suffering here on earth. IF we’re to assume that Williams really committed suicide, then we are to assume he did it for a good reason.
(Unless he was just really fucked up and not thinking straight. Now I know… Plenty of people have been writing long blog posts and articles and status updates about how “irrational people get when they are plagued with the disease of depression” And that may be so. Lord knows I’ve had my share of severe battles with depression through the years. It’s a horrible monster. As if our own mind is our enemy — because no matter what we are doing or what we take, we just always feel “sad” or worthless or devastated or discouraged…. as if life is unbearable and we’d be happier dead than alive. Yep. Been there. More than once. I get it. But let’s give the guy some credit. He was working. He was functional. He was just at an art gallery exhibit the day before hobnobbing with the locals. If he made the decision to commit suicide — which again, is a big IF, who are we to say that he’s irresponsible, selfish, or even “wrong” in his decision? We just can’t. Because we aren’t HIM.)
The truth is we have NO idea what lay on the other side of “death”. So all we’re really doing is lamenting the fact that the person is “not here for us” any longer. THAT’S what’s really going on. We aren’t sad for those we lost to suicide. We’re sad for ourselves. We believe that what they did is “wrong”, one, because we are going to miss them — they cut their own life short and therefore cut the time WE will have with them short, and two, because of the stigma attached to suicide. People still judge suicide to be bad or wrong or sinful in some way. So they often judge people who commit suicide in a negative light. And so too the loved ones who are left behind. As if they have to live in a nasty world for the rest of their lives where everyone is talking about them behind their backs. But truth be told this is ONLY because we are pretending that because we are ALIVE that being alive is the best of all possible worlds, totally forgetting to consider that death may be not only a viable option for some — someone who is terminally ill or in pain for example, but might even be a better place than being HERE NOW. WE just don’t know. Someone who commits suicide –depending on their belief system or religious faith tradition — may hold a belief that life after death may be a groovier place than life here on earth. They may believe that their soul disconnects from their body and floats off to “be with God” for an eternity. And being that beliefs create experience, who are WE to deny them that reality? Just because WE may not believe that? I call bullshit.
In terms of suicide being cowardly, says who? For some it may seem cowardly… IF they are coming from the viewpoint that “life is hard yeah sometimes it really sucks but you just HAVE TO endure it no matter what and if you don’t then you’re a pussy” I suppose. But really…. says who? That may be one person’s viewpoint, but it certainly isn’t everyone else’s. And to assume so is just yet another example of the short-sighted arrogance of many human beings currently walking the planet making life unbearable for the rest of us because they are constantly assuming THEIR viewpoint is the only one and should apply to every one else. Someone else may consider suicide to be the bravest thing one can ever fathom doing. Frankly I have always tended to lean in this direction, personally feeling that suicide would be a terribly frightening thing to do; I would be way too scared myself to commit suicide. It sounds extremely frightening to me. And therefore I do not see how a person would be cowardly to do it. I am unsure as to how someone else could possibly label another person a coward for doing it. It is obviously a major life decision, and like most major life decisions there doesn’t seem to be anything cowardly about it.
Now I know that many of the people who are labeling suicide “cowardly” are doing so because they are self-described atheists. It isn’t the absence of a God or creator that is operating here as much as an absence of belief in any kind of afterlife. To them, suicide literally means “the end of it all”, as in nothing left, it’s over, the person is gone forever. They hold a view that after life there is literally “nothingness” or “just ashes” once one passes from these mortal coils. And yes we must acknowledge that there are plenty of people who now who hold this belief to be true. They ONLY believe in THIS life and that’s it. Which is perfectly acceptable if that’s what serves THEM. It just doesn’t mean that it applies to others. Human consciousness is large enough to encompass ALL possible beliefs that human beings can come up with. And even more. ALL of them have the potential to be “true” and possible. The truth is that we just don’t know yet WHAT lies beyond human consciousness once the body ceases to exist. But to those who choose to wholeheartedly subscribe to this idea that they definitely KNOW that NOTHING exists beyond human consciousness in a body, yes, one can see that to take one’s life through suicide may seem cowardly — as it’s a final act that literally leads to “nothingness”. It’s as if it’s “an easy way out” because once you make that final decision and have breathed your last breath, that’s it, the whole kit and caboodle is over. No more pain, no more responsibility, no more struggle or heartache or depression.
But here’s the deal: SO WHAT? So what if that’s what a person decides is best for them? Who are we to declare that they’ve made the wrong decision? After all it’s THEIR life, is it not? Again, I get the feeling that the primary motivating force for those holding this viewpoint is that THEY want the person to stay alive for THEM — regardless of how much struggle or pain or heartache this person may be going through or enduring. They don’t care. They just feel that this other person — the one in pain — owes it to them to stay alive and endure anything and everything just so they can be there for THEM. So in reality it is really the person wanting the person to hang on that is being selfish; NOT the person wanting to commit suicide. They’re thrusting their own views about life onto others because they desire certain people to “stay alive” for THEIR sakes and for THEIR pleasure or happiness, and they’ll do and say anything to try to do this. They’ll tell the person “life is a precious gift” or “you owe it to the ones you love to stay alive as long as you can” etc etc. But these are all just stories, myths, fabrications all in the name of attempting to keep another person alive so YOU can get out of them whatever it is that you believe you’re getting out of them. You’re not really thinking about the other person or what is best for THEM. You’re making their life all about YOU.
So much for the argument that “suicide is the most selfish act a person can make”. Hey maybe it is. It’s certainly major and final. That’s for sure. But if there’s one thing we learn along the path of life out of all the myriad lessons obtained it is that only WE are ultimately responsible for ourselves. No one else is going to be there for us the way that we are. No one else is going to help us as much as we are going to need and have to. No one is going to be there for us as loyally as we are. And NO ONE is going to feel our pain or our struggle as much as we are. It is true, we DON’T have a choice in being born or not. It’s something that is thrown at us indiscriminately without our say in the matter. Then as we’re growing up everyone around us is constantly saying things like “life is such a blessing”, “we should feel so blessed to have the gift of life”…. When in reality, for some, for many millions and millions of people being born all over the world every minute of every day, life is pure hell from the moment they are born till the moment they breathe their last breath of relief.
We have no choice in being born into this life; we try our best to make it enjoyable, or for many just “bearable”. That doesn’t sound like a gift or a blessing to me. It sounds like what it really is. Random obligation of necessity. A spin of the wheel and out we pop and we are expected to not only do well at it, but to enjoy it and even consider it “a blessing”. It’s funny when you start to look at life more realistically. It ain’t as black and white as everyone would like.
With the fact that we had no choice in being born in the first place, no choice in who our family is, or where we grow up or who we grow up with, the one thing we SHOULD have a choice in is when and how we die. And one thing we DO know is that we have fought very hard over the centuries to secure for ourselves a certain level of freedom and liberty. At the very least each of us should be permitted the freedom and liberty to decide what WE want to do with OUR life, or our death to be more exact. That should be one of the most basic freedoms of any “free” society. And in many countries it is. This whole idea that “taking someone else’s life is murder and illegal, so why shouldn’t taking one’s own life be considered murder and be illegal” is a ridiculous non-sequitor. It’s completely illogical. So that shouldn’t even be something being discussed. And it is true that only the greatest of fools are saying it. Suicide is frowned upon in society because it seems to go against our most basic primordial survival instincts. But we aren’t animals struggling in the jungle to keep the species alive anymore. We’ve evolved. We’ve transcended mere survival. In fact one could easily argue that we have evolved to a state at this point that transcends “survival” being priority number one. Perhaps self determinism is priority number one now at this stage in our evolution as a species. And rule numero uno of self determinism surely is the freedom to decide is we want to be alive or not and for how long.
Granted, it IS terribly sad for those left behind. That’s a given. It’s downright tragic for them. But see, our presence here is a GIFT to those around us — IF we’re so blessed to have people around us who care for us that much, but it’s NOT a guarantee. Our presence here is not guaranteed and it certainly isn’t meant to be forever. The truth is there’s just no guarantee about anything regarding our lives here, nor the lives of others. So any amount of time we have to spend with those we love is a gift and a blessing. And if one day one of us decides that we are thoroughly finished with being alive here in this form and on this planet, so be it. That’s a decision that only we can decide for ourselves, each of us on our own, in our own way and in our own time.
The idea of Living Wills as an example address this issue squarely and directly. The basic idea of them is that while we’re alive and healthy and fully cognizant we create a Living Will that states what our loved ones should do with us in case we should ever become physically or mentally incapacitated; whether or not we should be placed on life support and for how long etc. These are decisions that are regularly suggested by medical doctors for everyone of sound mind and body to make AND to put it in writing. So if a person does get into an accident and tragically gets put into a vegetative state mentally or is unable to move or function physically, it is THEY who make the decision whether or not they are left for years on a hospital bed hooked up to a bunch of wires and machines, OR if the plugs are pulled and they are left to pass away quickly and quietly in a more natural manner. Everyone in civilized societies across the globe agrees that this is the “right thing to do”. (Whether or not it is, I cant say for sure. I can see arguments for both sides equally. But that isn’t the point.) The fact of the matter is that we have already reached this state of civilized self realization and self determinism. Good.
So why shouldn’t that same person, being of sound mind and body, be able to make that decision in cases where they are NOT in a coma or a vegetative state? Let us say that in the case of Robin Williams that he was just overtly depressed — and again we have no proof of this yet… or, as his wife now implies, that he “recently learned that he had Parkinsons Disease” and THAT was the reason that he decided to end his life early… again we just don’t know for sure — but let us say that he just decided that he didn’t want to live like that anymore… Should that decision of whether or not he lives be up to us? Or up to his family? Or up to him? I’d submit that every time no matter how many times the question is posed that that decision should solely and wholly be HIS decision and no one else’s to make. And the same for every and any one else in the world we live in.
I’m as shocked and saddened by Robin Williams’ death and the WAY in which he went as anyone else. In fact I have been surprised by how hard the news was for me, and the after shock. But I am certainly not feeling any negative feelings towards the man. Not labeling him irresponsible or selfish or cowardly or weak or anything else of that nature. If anything I remain intrigued by the details surrounding the event and especially concerning his decision IF it turns out that that’s what really happened. I am curious as to what he’s presently experiencing, if anything. Did he get to meet the Big Man or the Divine Mother? Did he turn into an angel and is currently floating around the earthly realm caring for those in need and making other angels laugh in hysterics with his latest impersonation of the Archangel Gabriel? If he burning in hell as punishment for taking his own life as the Catholics propose? Is he laying in wait in some strange state of limbo or Purgatory? Or has he already reincarnated and is celebrating his one month old birthday in Korea or Paraguay or Zimbabwe? If so, is he funny? Is he even human? Or is he a cow or a dog or a fruit fly? We don’t know. Truth is, we have no freaking clue. For all we know he could just be dead, done, finished, over, mission complete. Regardless of what happened to the man or where he is or isn’t, that isn’t our business, but only his. And that is what we call a truly free democratic point of view. People need to step off their soap boxes and back away from their homemade pulpits and just allow the man and his work to breathe a little. He gave us so much for so long. That’s the least that we can do in return.
Yours truly, sincerely and very much still alive,
AKA The Ambassador,
AKA Ed Hale