Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is Suicide...? ... Really Painless....?

This week's local news included word that Bill Heywood and his wife Susan, had committed suicide in a local Scottsdale motel. Mr. Heywood was a long time and beloved radio personality and his wife was, at one time a successful business person, very active in local charities, including helping to save many homeless animals. After Mr. Heywood's radio career ended, he became active in real estate. The economic downturn had its effects on him as it has on many others. Susan became very ill. Apparently they both began to believe that life together on the Other Side was better than continuing to challenge life on this side...

Then yesterday, one of my step-sons came with news that one his young female friends, a woman who had been a room-mate at one time, had also also committed suicide this week. She had been depressed. I could tell this was especially sad for him for he has lost several close friends in this way in the last few years. Who can ever explain the WHY of these actions?

Having served in the military a long time, I have seen my share of death and its effects on the survivors. One duty I dreaded the most was having to serve as a "Casualty Notification Officer". The one case that still haunts me the most was having to tell a young mother at 6 AM that her husband was dead. Her standing there in her front door in her robe, crying, with a three year old girl clinging to her side, is a vision I still carry with me.

My military training, like that of police officers, firemen, and EMS people, taught me that the best way to deal with such bad news is with stoicism. If I can maintain my outward self control and inner strength, I can press through this crisis with a minimal amount of emotional pain.

This lack of open ability to share feelings openly has been a problem at times with Mindy and with others. It's not that I am not sharing their pain or not hurting from some painful disagreements or passages, it's just that I am conditioned to contain those feelings. It's a fault that sometimes prevents me from showing the real feelings in my heart to others who care about me.

Suicide is, in fact, VERY painful... perhaps not so much for those who chose this path, but especially for those left behind. They is always that question of WHY? Why did they do that?Sometimes they leave a note to try and explain their motives, sometimes not. Either way, it usually makes it no less difficult for those left behind to understand.

Considering the incurable course of my own disease, I would be dishonest to say that I have not considered it in order to relieve my family and society of the inevitable burden I will become. But I hope I still have several more years to see the sun rise and set (and to understand that it IS rising or setting...), so it is not an option I hold close. At the same, I wish society and the medical world were more open to allowing people like me, or those with incurable diseases to create an "exit directive" when certain mutually agreed upon criteria are met... but that is currently not our way unfortunately.

I sometimes joke with Mindy that when my mind is nearly lost, ...when I cannot remember anyone or anything, then that would be the day to "pull the trigger" sort to speak. She reminds me that it is more likely that when that day arrives... I will have forgotten it.

We all hold our own lives in our own hands, what we chose to with it... is what we chose.

I'll close this thought with the theme song and the original lyrics from "Mash" the popular 1970 film. "Suicide is Painless".

But... in the end... is it really?

Suicide Is Painless

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...


That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it's too late, and...


The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.


The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I'm beat
and to another give my seat
for that's the only painless feat.


The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows it grin, but...


A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
'is it to be or not to be'
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'

'Cause 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 choose.

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