Saturday, October 30, 2004


There was an article in yesterday’s newspaper about a girl who killed herself, and I want to say something about suicide. If this is likely to upset you, could you skip this post and come back tomorrow, please?

If you’re still reading: I’m not talking about euthanasia. And this is just my opinion, a notion I once happened upon which helped me. If it’s no use to you, then I hope at least it doesn’t offend you. And the preachy tone in what follows? I’m a right bossy cow, sorry.

When I was at uni, a friend of a friend of a friend hanged himself. We’d never met, but I used to see him walking down the hill from campus. When I heard of his death I felt devastated, not because we were friends but because now we never would be. And more than that: he’d killed himself, killed everything he’d been, and everything he ever would’ve become. And more than that: he’d murdered the friend of his friend, murdered the son of his parents, the brother of his siblings, the grandson of his grandparents.

Before this I’d thought of suicide as a life choice, one of the alternatives when considering the future. If you felt bad enough, and could see no alternative, suicide was an option.

Now I think it’s not a choice at all, or more correctly, it’s a choice for only a limited part of yourself, the part that is the individual. This part is free to do whatever it wants, to live or die. But this is just one part of you; there are lots of others. You’re connected to hundreds of people, whether you’re aware of it or not, and whether you want to be or not. Not just family and friends, but everyone you ever come in contact with: people in the neighbourhood, at work, at school, in the street, on the road, at the bus-stop, walking down the hill from campus. For every connection to someone or something outside yourself, there’s a part of you fulfilling that role. And it’s these parts which don’t see suicide as an option. They don’t give their permission; you belong to other people too.

Think of it as a rule with no room for negotiation. It doesn’t care how you feel. It doesn’t care what you want. It’s a rule which can’t be broken: You don’t kill the child of your parents. You don’t kill the friend of your friends. You don’t kill the sibling of your siblings. You don’t kill all the people you’ve been, and you don’t kill all the people you’ll become. Do whatever you have to do to stay, because stay you must.