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I’m not the guy who brings it up, but I am the guy who always has a ready answer anytime someone asks me how I’d do myself in. It’s an idea I stole from a once-cheerful Pittsburgh restauranteur whose business went under and was never heard from again.

He said: “I’d book myself on a long, luxurious Caribbean cruise and when we’re about 10 miles from home port I’d get really drunk and jump off the end of the boat.”

I remember nodding respectfully. I thought it was a great idea if you’re depressed or terminally ill, especially the former. If you’re depressed the trip might pull you out of it. Or you might fall in love or at least hook up with somebody kinky enough to make life interesting again.

But I didn’t decide to adopt the idea for myself until he told me the kicker:

“And I’d pay for the whole thing with a credit card.”

Bravo. Just brilliant. If he’d figured out a way to give his life insurance company a really good screwing it’d be, to me, the E=mc2 of self-destructive notions.

I find the suicidal option abhorrent, while being wholly forgiving to most anyone who’s reached a despair so deep is seems irrevocable.

Life is difficult. We all endure heartache, failure and loss that can wipe out even the sunniest of souls.

After all, it’s not like we’re all fabulously wealthy Hollywood celebrities beloved around the world, people who’d never have any reason to do themselves in.

Bad example.

I guess my favorite Robin Williams movie was “Dead Poet’s Society.”

I wonder if it was his, too. It was so euphoric and life-affirming, just like the way we all want to remember Robin.

I loved best his rapid-fire stand-up routines — they were some of the funniest ever.

But I was always a little disconcerted seeing him being interviewed. He was either manically funny or so whisper quiet it made me uncomfortable. His behaviors seemed to teeter-totter without rational balance.

I wonder if he felt like he always had to be on or that being on was all he ever wanted to be.

He left us with so many questions, ones that will for many forever obscure all the laughter.

“Suicide is Painless” is the song that’s been going through my head. The lyrics will be familiar to anyone who remembers M*A*S*H, the very funny 1970 Robert Altman movie.

The tune became the theme for the landmark show of the same name, a show which was always compelling either for its comic brilliance or later for so much  bizarre self-indulgence.

The show was about saving lives, which is, I guess, they didn’t want to use the lyrics to a song that’s all about ending them.

I didn’t know it until just now, but the lyrics were written by Altman’s 14-year-old son Mike and earned the kid $1 million, or about $993,000 more than the dad was paid to direct the movie.

Here’s a sample lyric:

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll one day lay
So this is all I have to say . . .

(Chorus)
That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please
… And you can do the same thing, if you please

It’s difficult for those of us who’ve never experienced it to understand a despair so bottomless it could lead to suicide, especially when it causes to so much collateral damage.

It’s just incomprehensible when someone so many counted on to lift us up seems to let us down.

His suffering is over.

The suffering his suicide leaves behind is just beginning.

Yeah, suicide is painless.

Just not for the survivors.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Does it ever occur to people that (12+ / 0-)
    It’s just incomprehensible when someone so many counted on to lift us up seems to let us down.
    ...this kinda pressure doesn't help?

    He didn't let "the public" down, because he didn't owe "the public" anything.

    As far as immediate family and intimates, I won't hazard an opinion- that's a private matter.

    But if you put somebody in a position of that kind of scrutiny and expectations that high- you're not doing them a favor.

  •  I have always felt that the lyrics in Suicide i... (4+ / 0-)

    I have always felt that the lyrics in Suicide is Painless were meant to be deeply ironic.

  •  It Sounds Like He Was Struggling Financially.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita

    He was on his third marriage & lamenting the $30 MILLION he lost to the first two wives.  He couldn't afford to own his ranch anymore.  His TV show only lasted one season.  He was taking projects on just to pay the bills.

    It's a lot on top of chronic depression & alcoholism.  He was tired.  We have to let him go.  

  •  I have a few issues with this writing. (6+ / 0-)

    Let's start here:

    I find the suicidal option abhorrent, while being wholly forgiving to most anyone who’s reached a despair so deep is seems irrevocable.

    Life is difficult. We all endure heartache, failure and loss that can wipe out even the sunniest of souls.

    After all, it’s not like we’re all fabulously wealthy Hollywood celebrities beloved around the world, people who’d never have any reason to do themselves in.

    Bad example.

    This to me is too glib and demonstrates a lack of understanding.

    Depression isn't just about bucking yourself up. It's not about getting over routine disappointments in life.

    And "suicide is painless" is a malformed metaphor. Firs of all, it heavily implies that the person is taking the easy way out and that they are cowards.  Secondly, suicide in many cases is not painless at all. Take the example you provided of how you would off yourself: that is an extremely painful way to die.

    You projecting yourself as better than others and indicating a severe lack of understanding of depression, when you claim that you find suicide abhorrent.

    Suicide is not painless. Rather it brings relief from all sorts of pain. It's the ultimate desperation move to stop overwhelming pain.

    The fact that think or joke about the fact that a Hollywood celebrity should have no reason to do themselves in is at best ignorant and definitely disrespectful.

    "I'm not a number" --84,414

    by BentLiberal on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:33:47 PM PDT

  •  Hm. Drowning seems to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, bfitzinAR

    ...one of the most horrific ways to go of all.

    Best Scientist Ever Predicts Bacon Will Be Element 119 On The Periodic Table

    by dov12348 on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:34:37 PM PDT

    •  A very painful form of suicide. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dov12348, grover

      "I'm not a number" --84,414

      by BentLiberal on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 12:36:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Jumping off a cruise ship? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dov12348, Piren

      The "man overboard" would stop the ship for everyone else, risk the lives of rescuers, and destroy what was supposed to be a joyous event (honeymoon, anniversary, birthday, family reunion) etc for all the other passengers.

      No one notices you missing for a while? A missing passenger creates what is likely a criminal investigation of your closest family and friends.

      Yeah. "Painless."

      Good God.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 01:18:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't know if you are one of those (5+ / 0-)

    survivors who just had the bitterness brought back up again or not - that's what this reads like.  If so, hang in there - you never get over it but you do get used to it after a while.  My dad committed suicide 32 years ago.  And it comes back with every suicide I hear about.

    •  {{{{{hugs, bfitz}}}}} (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      8days2amish, Piren, BentLiberal, bfitzinAR

      I am SO sorry about your dad.

      English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

      by Youffraita on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:03:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  {{{Youffraita}}} (0+ / 0-)

        thanks.  Like I said, it pretty much recedes into the background until something brings it up.  And mostly that's "if onlys" because, well, while I remember Daddy from the standpoint of a kid, I never knew the man my father was and only have stories I remember Momma telling me about his younger years, his stint in the CCC, his volunteering in Jan 1942 and then later becoming an officer and a pilot.  I remember when he worked "safety" on the Galveston Bay Bridge in the mid 1950s and later worked and taught "safety" for the gas company.  Little kid stuff - teaching me to swim, to cook pancakes, all that.  The "might have beens" deal with him never knowing he had grandsons (he had 2 when he died) and never having the time with them to teach them as he taught me.  But I'm older than he was when he died and my older son is 43 - so actually is was 42 years ago not 32 (math in my head is not good) which basically reiterates that it recedes when not brought up.

  •  Good for you man (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    8days2amish

    I did the same thing a while back about suicide, even posting the same lyrics and the community went all HR on my ass.  Told me that this was not the "forum" for that and it was not allowed.   Maybe somewhere between there and here they found logic.  I am dearly sorry for the loss of Robin Williams and hope that someday we can find a way to deal with depression in a better way.

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