Episode 92 Suicide
My aunt was in her early seventies when she climbed into the chest freezer and pulled the door shut. They found her two days later. No one thought to look in the freezer. Family, friends, and law officers had searched the farm and scoured the area with no success. She had deceived everyone. No one suspected suicide. This was a few decades ago. People weren’t as attuned to depression as we are today. In retrospect, one might guess that she could have been severely depressed; a Midwestern farm wife; living out on a farm, children were grown and gone, little social contact. Her husband was morose and withdrawn. She was running on empty.
This is Retirement Talk.
with friends this topic popped up a few days ago. One friend asked if
we knew; “What
group of people in the
‘Death with Dignity’ signs have become popular in our state this past year. There is a movement to make it legal to take one’s own life with medical assistance if one chooses. Of course, there are specific safeguards attached to the initiative. The vote will be in the fall.
Suicide is a tough topic. We don’t like to accept death, let alone rush it. The idea of taking our own life is so very complicated. It is especially difficult for those close and yet left behind. I can’t imagine what it must be like.
had a friend
in college, who eventually became a pretty famous writer in
whom I taught in
She developed some sort of arthritic condition. One fall day she came to school in a wheel chair. I went to her room and she came out into the hall to tell me about it and weep just a bit. A few days later, she failed to come to work. Understandable. Then a few more days passed and the police were called to check her condo. Everything was in its place. The condo was immaculate. The bills were all paid. The utilities had been stopped. There was no note. There was no car in the garage and no sign of violence. A search began.
found her up
gathered for a few days and talked. He explained his condition and his
to end his own life. He visited the hardware store and obtained a piece
plastic, duct tape, a bottle of – I think – nitrous
oxide – and a short hose.
He then set up two video cameras in his bed room to video the entire
He did this to protect his children and wife from the law. He wanted a
of the fact that he was doing this on his own. He bid everyone good bye
asked them to leave and not to return for a half hour or so. The grown
went to the car; sat for a while; then went to a bookstore/coffee shop.
they returned he was dead and the video cameras had shut down. The
no charges. His ashes were spread in the Chugach Mountains that rise
Suicide diminishes us all just as John Donne expressed in his famous line; “all men’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.” Perhaps it isn’t the suicidal aspect of the death, but death itself that we find so unfair. My experience is limited. I’m sure the suicide of a close friend or one’s immediate family must be especially difficult and deliver a unique understanding.