Originally entitled, “The Easy Way Out,” I first wrote this three years ago and it bears repeating. “Suicide is not an easy way out.” My own contemplations of suicide and my battles with clinical depression fuel my emotions, along with the thoughts of three friends and former students who in the last few years have opted to take the “easy way out.”
No one who knows me would think, “Coach Miller is suicidal” without being told so and many would say, “Aw shucks, you’re pullin’ my leg. You?” Yeah, me. Many people who contemplate suicide don’t “look like someone” who might because we are masters of disguise. “So, take a good look at my face, uh-huh. You see my smile (looks out of place). Yeah, look a little bit closer it’s easy to trace, oh the tracks of my tears.” The problem is Smokey, we do our crying alone and put our smiles on when we are out in public.
The Easy Way Out
“A brave man once requested me,
to answer questions that are key,
‘Is it to be or not to be,’
and I replied, ‘oh why ask me?’”
“’Cause suicide is painless,
it brings on many changes,
and I can take or leave it if I please…
and you can do the same thing if you please.”
Theme from MASH, “Suicide is Painless” by Johnny Mandel
I don’t believe there is anything easy about committing suicide nor do I think is it totally painless. That would be two of the major reasons I don’t attempt it. When you are sick like me, one may find it not to be the easiest of ways out. I don’t mean sick as in “I have a terminal illness and it is going to eat me up from the inside out” kind of sickness but the “I’m crazy as a bed bug” kind of sickness.
I have suffered from clinical depression for over forty years now, so I believe I have the right to say, “I’m crazy as a bedbug.” Also, like a world-class alcoholic, I have become very adept at hiding it. You see, almost daily, I still have thoughts of suicide or when I do something I consider “wrong,” there are the thoughts that I deserve to be hurt in some way even if I do it to myself. YES, I JUST CUT OFF MY FINGER ON PURPOSE!!!! I’ve done neither so suicide may not be the easy way out after all.
Being suicidal and repeatedly not pulling the trigger, not slitting a wrist or taking a short step out of a very high window is hard. I spend some of my “very best” depressed “self-speak” contemplating, quite morbidly, the pain of a bullet entering my head as opposed to the pain the same bullet would have on the people I leave behind. The people I love and, despite my depressive hate speech, those I know to love me, at least I think…maybe.
My wife, my daughter, and son-in-law, my grandchildren, who I don’t yet know as well as I want, my brother and my friends. So far, my belief is that the pain of my action on those I leave behind would be greater…therefore, I don’t do it. There is also the fear of the unknown. Am I going to find myself inside of a vat of boiling “hellfire and brimstone” for instance, am I just going to “wink” out of existence or turn into some type of cosmic energy? Will I be reborn as an Egyptian Dung Beetle?..one of my favorites. All options are scary, as are others, and I find I am not a very brave person or is “sticking out” the mental anguish, itself, brave?
Clinical depression is one of the odd ducks of mental illness. “Oh, you are just a little blue…” and the Grand Canyon is a little hole. Logically you ask yourself, repeatedly I might add, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Nothing! Absolutely nothing. Or, friends and loved ones ask, “Why are you depressed?” Those questions are quite tiring because there is no answer unless it is everything.
My depression is due to tiny, little, itty bitty chemical imbalances in my brain. AND IT IS TREATABLE, once you figure out it is nothing more than a disease. No different than diabetes, or arthritis, or toenail fungus except that for some reason it seems to be much more embarrassing to say, “I am clinically depressed and suicidal” than “I have toenail fungus and it is yucky.” It shouldn’t be. Toenail fungus is pretty yucky. We need to dispel the stigma of “I’m crazy as a bedbug” and treat the illness.
These thoughts were triggered by a phone call. A friend told me of suicide. I didn’t know the man; I know the family he left behind and can only imagine the pain they are going through. The unanswered questions, “Why?”, “Why didn’t I see it coming?”, “What did I do wrong?”
Suicide was not an easy way out for them. Suicide was not due to an incurable and painful illness like cancer. It was due to an incurable and painful illness like clinical depression. There are no answers to the “Why” and “What” questions. Quit asking them!
His suicide has me, selfishly, thinking about ME. I worry someday suicide will appear to be the easy way out… I won’t have enough clarity of thought to keep me from pulling the trigger. No there is nothing easy about suicide including the contemplation of suicide.
Before you worry, NO! I do not need to be put on suicide watch…at least yet. I’ll try to let you know and you should be paying attention…not only to me but the people who are close to you. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Are you okay?” Your loved one will lie and say “Oh, I’m fine” or “I’m just a little blue,” but you should be looking for lies.
This post is for the people who have not had their clinical depression diagnosed or those who have and still battle it every day. You are not alone and you are not an embarrassment. There are many of us out there, a depressing estimate of one hundred and twenty-nine million worldwide, one out of every ten Americans and even more depressing, eighty percent never receive treatment. I was lucky.
There ARE people you can talk to. If there is no one in your life, try these:
National Suicide Hotline (800) 273-8255
Teen Health and Wellness Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or
text ANSWER to 839863
For more statistics http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic
If you are interested in reading more “Ravings of a Mad Southerner” or other writings by Don Miller, please use the following link: https://www.amazon.com/DonMiller/e/B018IT38GM
The image featured is from https://www.docsopinion.com/2018/02/25/depression-symptoms/ and comes from an article entitled 10 Important Symptoms of Depression. I would suggest you check yourself.