Monday, September 25, 2006

On Waste

When reading this, forget things like euthanasia, that's not what I'm talking about.

On Saturday, I met up with an old flat mate of mine that I haven't seen in almost four years. It was great to see him, and hear all his news. He looks happy and healthy and all in all pretty good, so that's great. However, I did hear one sobering piece of news from him that hit home pretty hard.

When we were living together, I got to know some of his friends pretty well. I especially had time for this one guy, let's call him H, who was incredibly friendly, sociable and polite. I found H very easy to talk to, and without getting really close to him, I was always really glad that we were able to be friends. Well, on Saturday, my flate mate had to break it to me that about 18 months ago, H killed himself. He went to the roof of a uni library, floated to the ground, and when he got there, he was dead. I am so so shocked.

Sadly, this is not the first suicide I have had to deal with. Three years ago in January, my uncle hanged himself in his workshop. But when my family broke this news to me on a visit home, shocking as it was, it was easier to handle because they were able to tell me everything I needed to know. With H, it's not like that. My flat mate didn't seem able to talk about it, and I didn't like to further broach a painful subject that he had already dealt with and filed away. Like I say, H and I weren't super close, he was my flate mate's friend. So I somehow didn't feel I had a right to ask as much as I wanted.

When my uncle died, my family were able to relate to me all the sordid details surrounding his death. Horrible as it was, I was able to put the blame somewhere, and try to begin to understand what made him do it (though such questions can never be resolved). With H, there is this big fat "Why?" hanging over it. I can't begin to even speculate how this happy, confidant, wonderful guy went from being so well-adjusted to thinking that the only way things were going to get better was to kill himself. We were never in touch after I left the country, and I wasn't even in touch with the flat mate enough to get to talking about H. So I simply don't know.

What I do know is that I feel angry with him. Suicide is the ultimate in selfishness. I wasn't so close to my uncle. I wasn't close to H. But I can feel nothing but anger and hurt towards them. Until they spoke to every single person in the world that they knew, there was always another way to deal with whatever was going on. Always. I feel sad they are gone. Heartbroken. But also bitter. How dare they take themselves from us like that? Sure, it was their own lives, but what they obviously forgot is that with their life, they touched the lives of others around them. They had no right to decide to sever that in such a way. None.

But what gets me most about all of this is the waste involved. a A total waste of life. This guy, who would have been 23, 24 at the time, and had his whole life ahead of him. He was smart, funny, good-looking, and basically Full of Promise (those who have read Elizabeth Wurtzel's 'Prozac Nation' will get this reference). And now all that potential is gone, just like that. I wonder what he would have gone on to do. Probably he wouldn't have changed the world. Probably he wouldn't have been famous. That stuff doesn't matter. What does matter, is that if he had still been here, he would have still been in touch with people, making them feel good about themselves, making people happy they knew him.

Maybe it was just too much. Maybe he just didn't care anymore. I mean, if he did care, would he have done it?

I'll admit that I am no stranger to harmful thoughts myself. I don't want to go too far into it here, but I've been sad enough to want nothing more than to cause myself actual damage. Something to do with having something physically tangeable and painful to cry over, instead of the stressfulness of what's going on inside your head. But I've never, ever truly wanted to die.

A friend in Japan also recently lost a friend to suicide. I recall her feeling the exact same way I do now. Just totally at a loss as to why someone would do that. I tried to counsel her with the experience of my uncle's death. But then again, I was fortunate enough to know all the details surrounding that. She wasn't, and now neither am I. And it's the saddest, most puzzling and hurtful thing in the world.

This is the most personal thing I have ever written on this blog. I would like to say that I can't imagine any of my closest friends doing that to themselves, but neither would I have said my uncle or H would do it. So you know what? If you ever think about it, don't bother. I won't feel sorry for you. I'll be pissed off with you. Go and find help, for the love of God.

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