I don’t know how many of you actually pay attention to the blogroll on the right side of your screen there, with my links on it. If you don’t, I want to take a moment to point it out for one specific link on it: the National Hopeline Network. It’s a suicide prevention hotline, managed by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, itself founded in memory of a woman who committed suicide in 1998.
See, suicide is on my mind today. The sister of a friend of mine attempted suicide the Friday before Thanksgiving, by swallowing a variety of pills. I told my best friend about it earlier today, and we talked for a bit on suicide and whether or not those around a suicidal person have the obligation to try to save their lives.
It’s actually a pretty hard question to answer, at least for me.
I haven’t known anyone that’s actually committed suicide, save for the possibly unintentional suicide of one of my college roommates, long after we’d gone our separate ways. Drunk at a party in Hawaii, he dove off of a cliff into the waters below, 3 miles away from the nearest beach and into a current that would have driven him against the rocks. His body was never found.
That’s the closest I’ve come to knowing someone that’s committed suicide. I have had to talk people down off of the ledge before, so to speak, going so far with one friend as to sneak all the sharp objects out of his house and stay up with him for several days while the effects of his old medications wore off and the new ones kicked in. The rest have just involved talking, just being there and listening, waiting for them to come down or sober up, empathizing and sympathizing and even begging them not to do it. At least I’ve got a good success rate there. But I digress.
The question of whether or not I, or anyone, has an obligation to prevent someone from committing suicide is a hard one for me. I believe in everyone having control over their own life, and that would necessarily include the right, I suppose, to end their own life. I voted for the proposition in Washington state to allow the terminally ill to commit medically-assisted suicide earlier this month, so shouldn’t I support the same for people who are terminally tired of life?
Maybe I should.
Maybe I shouldn’t.
I don’t know.
I only know this: I’m not obligated to do anything for anyone, anywhere, for any reason, ever. But if it’s someone I know and care about, or if it’s a complete and total stranger, that comes to me and tells me they’re thinking about committing suicide, I’m gonna fight. I’m gonna try hard as hell to get them to hang on, to give life a chance, to try to see the world past the pain and frustration and anguish. Like Seein Definate said in “Try Again” (it’s the top link on that page), I’m gonna try my best to get them to “stick around for one more day.” I might annoy them in doing so, I might become a huge pain in their ass, they might hate me forever after that one day, but as long as they’re alive to hate me, it’s worth it. I will do whatever it takes to get them to not give up, to try again, even if it’s just for one more day. And I will not walk away.
See, you only get to read these words because once, a long time ago, someone didn’t walk away from me.
VS – 11.29.08