I’m still not entirely convinced that wanting to die–or entertaining the idea of suicide–is a completely irrational thing to do. From an atheist standpoint at least, it’s over. Problem is, it goes wrong so fucking often. Even holding the gun to my temple seems nearly impossible; the weapon gets heavier the closer my finger gets to the trigger. Probably nerves. Because from a practical standpoint how could that not hurt? Lostallhope.com (I can’t even type that without laughing, cause it’s way too emo) explores some of my worst fears in potentially failed suicides. Somebody is always making it through.
Languish around the SICU like the vegetable you now are, drooling on people, having your family drop by less and less (or no one) while your nurse tries to keep you comfortable and talks about how great of an organ donor you’d be? Fuck that. Plus, if you die, you can’t drink Golden Monkey and listen to The XX and The Cold War Kids while writing shit like this. It seems like the ultimate violation of autonomy though, for someone to suggest that suicide is out of the question, mostly because they’ll miss you. Isn’t that more selfish than the suicide itself?
In that case, to be manipulated in such a way by other people’s assumptions about how one must feel at any given moment–and subsequently, how one could potentially feel, given drugs, talking etc–can only make existence worse. Control is a big thing for me. The fear of losing it, as well as thinking about the parts of life where it’s already long gone. It’s fucking terrible. It seems like every empathetic perspective, or at least what we’re taught about suicide leads people to strip away autonomy first.
Every time I’m on a 1:1 with a suicidal patient I ask them about the reason they’ve either considered it or tried to hurt themselves. Okay, sometimes I judge them for trying to end it in really corny ways like taking Tylenol or whatever, but that’s not the point. You get some interesting stories out of those conversations. It’s like the peak of the human experience. More than “what’s bothering you?” It’s like, “what are the multifaceted aspects of existence that are bothering you so much that you’re willing to end your fucking life over it?” And at that point, when you’re already down and busted, and someone legit wants to know, and not to diagnose you or send you to Germantown Crisis, but legit wants to know, you might as well spill it. All that sexy, gushy, honest, painful experience that actually allows me to know you instead of just hypothesize about your life and shit.
I’ve found out about a myriad of molestations, beatings, deep seated hatreds, betrayals and self-doubts this way. Sometimes, of course, there is a legitimate medical reason for the suicidal ideation that can and should be rectified. Sometimes it’s stuff that was already in the patient’s chart too, but in that stale, dry manner. In those cases, hearing the full story matters. Most of the time the chart doesn’t actually say why, which really, is the part I’m interested in, not for any diagnostic possibility but because it feels good to know. The same way reading or watching something sad feels good in that relatable sense.
Sometimes the patient and I end up laughing about the whole thing. The ludicrousness of it all. The kind of hard laugh you engage in when you know the sadness will circle back around soon. The one that Colson Whitehead might share with fellow Anhedonians. It’s the greatest relief to feel, lavishing in the temporary state of the thing you can both share like people as opposed to statisticians, diagnosticians, or people who haven’t considered suicide because their rainbow actually is enuf. I never actually tell them anything about me though. Seems unprofessional. Gotta leave all that personal shit at home, or on your blog or whatever.