Goodbye, Peter Pan

Suicide is never noble!

Let me repeat. Suicide. Is. Never. Noble. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever!

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The individual may be a supposedly devout Muslim and ardent follower of the radical Al-Qaeda who is perversely motivated by the promise of 72 virgins for dying a so-called martyr’s death.

Or the individual may be a celebrated comic, actor and all-around good guy as Robin Williams appears to have been.

Whatever the person’s status, religious conviction or seemingly hopeless conditions might be, not one of these reasons (in my view) justifies self-murder. And I say it again for emphasis:  No death by suicide should be considered a noble act … ever!

Am I being harsh? I don’t think so. I’ve posted about suicide before (here, here, here, among others). My thoughts on the subject should be clear to anyone who reads those posts. Most people who know me would probably agree I’m compassionate and have a deep well of empathy. But I’m also acutely pragmatic.

Pragmatism reminds me there’s an awful and unforgettable mess the person who commits self-murder leaves behind. Whether it’s a grisly death or a quiet needle in the arm, the self-murderer never has to deal with the scene. Others do. Others carry the horrific memories of that scene in their memories as long as they live.

Suicide notes declaring the self-murderer’s love for his or her heirs, friends and family members can hardly stanch the bleeding from the gaping psychological wound inflicted by self-murder. Questions will be forever unanswered while guilt – misplaced certainly, but guilt nonetheless – never goes away! And when there is no suicide note? There won’t be fewer questions nor less guilt. Note or not, the wrenching suddenness of death by self-murder intensifies its brutality!

I wasn’t a huge Robin Williams fan, but I enjoyed some of his films. However, because of my love for Peter Pan (posts here and here), the portrayal of a grown-up Peter Pan in 1991’s Hook was enjoyable for me. While this probably wouldn’t be considered a classic film, the extension of J. M. Barrie’s original tale pleased me. Perhaps with the death of Williams, it will achieve greater status.

Like others who’ve died at their own hand, the death of Robin Williams saddens me. He was a talented man, but a man who had apparently lost hope. Whatever else he had in his life, this hopelessness drove him to despair. (I’m speaking generally. I would not presume to speak for a man I’d never met.) It’s almost as if, within the fairy tale context, Williams could not find within himself the determination to be the I-won’t-grow-up Peter Pan again, surrendering instead to the tedium of adulthood. Simply put, he gave up!

Job was apparently a hopeless man also. When all his trials began to crush him, he said:

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
And come to an end without hope.”

But through all his trials, he chose steadfastness, declaring:

“Though He slay me,
I will hope in Him.
Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.”

As dark as the days Robin Williams may have faced (and may have considered were ahead of him), I wish he could have taken hold and been buoyed by the indefatigable hope epitomized by Job. As long as there is life, there is HOPE.