Ray Osborn

On Suicide


ISSUE 64 | REPRESENTATION IS NOT VIOLENCE | MAY 2016

I have tried to commit suicide 5 times but what is more depressing than my failure (I laugh) is the idea that I lived a life, at one point, in which suicide seemed like a viable option to my situation. For those who see suicide as a sin or who see it as unfathomable I ask you to consider the reality of some: the prospect of a lifetime of pain, inescapable and incomprehensible. I could go on to innumerate the dislocated aspect, haptic realism, and irrationally blinding characteristics of this psychic pain but I think more convincing would be the logical arguments delineating a kind of sympathy and compassion towards those with suicidal ideation, rather than an enstrangement and condemnation for their condition. I call it a condition because I think in order to better understand and help cure the mindset of the mentally ill we must first legitimize their situation as one that is necessarily not inhabited by choice. In my struggle, I did not simply succumb to the macabre whims of my melancholy without struggle. I do not personally think that suicide is ethical. One of the few things that saved me was the sympathy, empathy, and compassion I had for those who would be left behind; however, this does not mean that I believe it to be unethical.

I oftentimes, in my wrangling with my mind-state, wondered if I would take part in assisted suicide. This then begged the question, is torture less ethical than murder? Because at that point, all hyperbole, cliché, and exaggeration aside, my situation started to seem to me to be one of torture. I was not “tortured” in any sense of the word but I was unable even to remember what happiness felt like, even starting to wonder if I had ever know it at all, if maybe the word were just an empty indexical of hope, existing to torture me all the further into a kind of internally spiraling madness, a nihilism of the most severe kind, what I thought at the time to be a immaterial solipsism. Though not entirely non-physical. My depressive states would come along with very physical warning signs which I slowly learned watch and read because, I’ll remind the reader, at the back of my mind, sometimes, I did not want to die, there were many moments in which I tried to save myself and spent much time and energy avoiding the ever present creep of that which seemed inevitable. Some symptoms, for me, included taciturnity, inattentiveness to personal hygiene, lessened critical or high functioning of the intellect, intensification of appetite, increased drug and alcohol use, apathy towards social conventions, suicidal ideation (ex. “I hate myself”, “I want to kill myself”, or “I hate my life”) and basic inattentiveness to cars while crossing the street. As strange as the last seems, I realized that I had started developing very personal signs of increased suicidal thinking such as not looking both ways before crossing the street, wearing darker eye make-up, or binging on Pop-Music. The binges on Pop-Music don’t really seem to make sense to most but for me they made perfect sense: instant gratification of the body and mind: pleasure via a culture that asks nothing of me but direct access to my ego which it pumps through with affirmation through meaningless nomenclatures: because who really cares what their life is like for that 3 minutes and 24 seconds in which you can spit game like Beyoncé?

I hold that torture is less ethical than murder. This is not to say that life is not valuable: it is one of the most valuable things we have aside from maybe love, in the sense that love is in fact meaning, the breath of life. In any case, that is not to say that life is not valuable, my argument now has more to do with power and what we as a society who’s knowledge and wisdom is based is compassion rather than forceful adumbration and enforcement of beliefs that can do nothing but cause further suffering to future generations and their families, rather than being a viable response or solution to a very real problem. First and foremost, I do demand the sole rights to my body and mind; whether or not I deem anyone or anything lucky enough to share these rights is my business and mine alone. I begin and end in and around myself and no one can take or should be able to take that from me, and if they were to try, in the case that they try to force their will in opposition to my own when in consideration of anything symbolizing or existing as me, myself, I would make example of them for I can think of nothing more unsympathetic and unloving than this, violence, against an individual by a group. The two exemptions from this rule that I can think of are if my will would cause obvious and direct violence to someone else’s wellbeing 1 and if my will would cause obvious and direct violence to myself. I do not advocate suicide as a trendy or posh alternative to life, but rather insist that a part of the solution and process for health, because suicidal ideation is obviously not healthy, be in a reframing of our ideas surrounding suicide and those who are unfortunate enough to be suicidal.

More than anything I believe that this argument is important for me to make as a woman possessing and claiming her body and her right to self-affirmation (and I think Alice Alsup would agree, as embodied in her feminist poetics) whether that be in the form of creation or destruction, life or death, both being inevitable and natural states of being. (I’ll remind you that I do not hold to the division of mind and body, so these words generally stand in for each other, as always, to hell with Decartes.) What seems most unnatural to me is the fixation on condemning the victim of suicide even after death, the desecration of their memory in order to… what… as I see it… cause even more pain for the survivors and continue a cycle of condemnation and scapegoating of those going through depression. If this logic holds then the only people we have to blame, for their active involvement and continued negligence, are the ones who, for example, leave anonymous hate-mail as comments on Internet articles published as eulogies for the deceased. They treat an obituary like their personal bandstand, crying out in the name of God’s love and everything Holy, doing right by themselves and their selfish Egos, standing alone in hate just purely, hypocrites for their own cause.

This is what I rail against. I wish to provoke understanding through compassion and entreat more research be done on depression and more funds allocated to the development of new and better medications, but, almost more importantly, I beseech anyone and everyone to fight against the privatization and continuation of patents that hold back research and make these medications impossibly expensive for the average patient.


1 How we might define “wellbeing” is variable but I consider anything necessary to a salutary and happy life, be it universal or not, a part of any one human’s wellbeing. I sincerely do believe that this is possible, and so is living in tandem and harmony with every past, present, and possible person in humanity with the fulfillment of need and the application of an ethics of love. I’m not so naïve to believe that it is possible by snapping the fingers, en punto, right now; however, it is a worthwhile cause and I find myself salacious in it. Call me a sucker, call me Camus, call me a late-humanist; in any case, I’ll find myself in love, sappy, like the trees, and sufficiently happy in Nature, that is, that which gives me meaning, that which was my tool and aid in preserving myself (along with the requisite medication), that is, Poetry. This digression; for the sake that I might point out that there are personalized needs (i.e. Poetry for me) and more general needs (i.e. Art, of which everyone practices their own, a kind of spiritual practice be it found daily in Poetry, Cooking, or Sports).