Suicide is never noble!
Let me repeat. Suicide. Is. Never. Noble. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever!
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.
9 thoughts on “Goodbye, Peter Pan”
I agree that suicide is horrible and always a bad decision, but I don’t know that people who are so depressed and hopeless that they would consider ending their lives are capable of making a good decision at that point. They need someone to step in to help at that critical moment. Robin Williams sought help for years, but at that one moment, he was alone and the despair he was feeling took over. It’s very sad and a huge waste and it’s horrible for everyone who loved him. But he did fight it for a long time.
Thanks for your comment. I totally agree that Williams was driven by loneliness and despair after having wrestled his demons for what must have seemed like forever. But I keep going back to my last sentence: as long as there’s life, there’s hope.
The story of Kevin Hines (who survived after he jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge) is compelling. He says the second he let go of the bridge and began to fall, he immediately regretted his act and was overcome by the most intense desire to LIVE! He asks the same question I would ask — how many others who’ve chosen self-murder experience that instant realization … but for them it’s permanent and too late?
Yes, I’m sure if there were a second chance everyone would choose to live. It’s just at the moment of the actual attempt, I think the blackness that brings one to that point overshadows the reasoning center of the mind and death seems the only option. I can’t imagine what that must feel like. It must be the closest to hell on earth anyone experiences. I’ve read many accounts of those who were approaching that moment when God intervened through a friend, a seemingly random phone call or knock on the door, a song on the radio, something that jolts the person into realizing that hope does remain and that life is precious. For others, like Robin Williams, perhaps those opportunities came, but the real solution to human despair (God) was never fully received and incorporated into their lives from that point onward. I know there are physical, chemical problems in those with true depression that can be improved with medications and therapy, but they are only a partial solution. Humanity cries out for the divine in so many ways!
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree. I can’t imagine the black hole one experiences that leads to self-murder. I do believe God is there at such a time, but he doesn’t force hope on us. We have to grasp it of our own volition. Each of us has to be sure and offer hope to those who suffer. It might make the crucial difference in whether someone lives or dies.
That was awesome, thank you. I’ve been a bit irritated by the media’s portrayal of suicide lately, yes, as if it were noble or completely understandable or beyond someone’s control. I grow weary of hearing how we need to focus on the good of the life he lived and try to be more understanding. I may be empathetic, I may understand mental illness, addiction, but suicide is still an incredibly selfish act. People don’t kill themselves alone, they take a little bit of everyone else with them. You leave people behind and it’s not fair.
When did we start promoting this crazy perception of suicide as it were brave or honorable or something? It’s an incredibly cruel thing to do to those you leave behind.
Oh, how right you are. Thanks for your comment! You provide such an apt image — a self-murderer taking a little bit of everyone else with them. For sure!
I think this current idea of suicide as noble goes right along with the enshrinement of Choice (so-called), another cruel and deadly lie from the father of lies.
Rereading this today….to me suicide is the ultimate selfish act. A very, very sad thing. I suppose you have seen on FB the story of the 29 year old woman who is planning her own suicide because of a fatal disease. She (unselfishly) is planning this 2 days after her husband’s birthday at the end of this month. Hopefully, she will have that moment where she will decide that this is not the answer.
I am still disappointed that our paths did not cross this past weekend at the alma mater!! I wanted to let you know that I am still enjoying your blog. Next year, okay??
Karen, we too were disappointed about failing to connect with ya’ll this past weekend! There were so many things to do and hardly time to see everyone. You’re right … next time. Thanks for re-reading that post. The last couple days, I’ve been formulating my thoughts and response about the woman you mention and plan to post on this subject today. God bless you both! R.