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American Suicide Culture


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American Suicide Culture

Self-euthanizing and suicide are NOT the same things

Another ending in a morning’s headline “Anthony Bourdain Suicide at age 61.”

Most everyone knew who he was, the master chef and globetrotter hosting a program called Parts Unknown about the food and drink and people from far-flung corners of the world.

He hanged himself in a hotel room in Paris (France, not Texas).

Another ending of a life we imagined we knew something about, but that we then had to wonder, did we really know anything at all? And not just this American’s life, but his death.

Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, Hemingway (many years ago, but the shotgun blast still roars in every writer’s ears), so many others: ingénues, movie stars, and rock icons, Jimi, Janice, J. Morrison. Were these all really “accidental’ O.D.s from such experienced heroin addicts?

People in many countries kill themselves for a wide range of apparent reasons, but in America, there seem to be more and more suicides for reasons invented after the act, more like half-assed efforts to explain/justify than believable and genuine explanations that make sense.

I expect to someday self-euthanize, although I’m far from sure that I’ll do this and very sure that it won’t be any time soon.

I am far more certain that I’ll never commit suicide, as in hanging myself or blowing my brains out or any of the other grand dramatic gestures and salutes to my special, final suffering and anguish, regardless of how real and painful those feelings are.

I can’t promise this, but I am as sure about it as I am about anything else in my life.

Hunter S. Thompson was not the only person to gather together his loved ones and inform them of his decision to leave his life. Jerzy Kosinski wrote Painted Bird one of the strongest most brilliant portrayals of a fight to survive ever written, yet when he felt and knew his mind was going from Alzheimer’s he quietly left the stage while he still had a choice in the matter.

I won’t end it all with any of what often appear to be self-absorbed and dramatic closures, meant to punish the world somehow for failing to let me feel like I still matter. But in truth, suicides of that variety are simply, another ending;

And they are an increasingly common kind of American ending.

I figure it like this: We hope to matter, expect to matter in our lives, while secretly we know, a secret even to ourselves, that in America if you’re no longer either producing or consuming (preferably BOTH) what the hell good are you? Why are you still here taking up space? Want some applicable proof? Here you go:

175K (and counting) dead from a virus that every other country in the world has managed to control to at least some degree and in every one of those countries a greater degree than in America. And this virus most aggressively kills the old and the weaker, the poor, and people of color in the most exposed and dangerous work situations.

If you think that the American acceptance and rationalizations for suicide and the death numbers of our present pandemic are unrelated — no offense, but you are not thinking clearly.

I don’t want to live forever, well, maybe I DO, but I won’t and can’t.

What I DO want, what I demand of myself, is to live today as if it is forever.

I intend to remember every day that every moment is as close to forever as any of us will ever get.

Let’s never let America convince us otherwise. Let’s live our lives by our right purpose and right understanding and keep walking past those open 12th-story windows.

Sheehan

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