Suicide and the Annihilation of Hope

"Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times"

- Aeschylus

DJ AM died last weekend. At first his death was considered the result of an overdose...according to news reports he'd successfully beaten an addiction to crack for several years until it came roaring back recently after a near death experience and a painful breakup. However, over the course of the past few days it seems that his death may have been intentionally self-inflicted.

Last year, David Foster Wallace, the brilliant author of Infinite Jest hanged himself at home. According to his father, David had battled severe depression for over twenty years. In the past few years his attempts to find an effective treatment that would allow him to manage the depression while continuing to write, had failed. Unable to cope with the pain of his depression, he ended his life.

These reports of suicide among the young and beautiful and indescribably talented always leave me baffled and yes, sad. Having sloshed through the dark muck of depression myself, I understand that the journey sometimes feels endless and the cycle, an endless loop that leaves me unwilling to get out of bed to face another day of disappointment. And while I sometimes despair that I have not made enough of my life, that I have failed to make the most of my talents, I have always held on to to the hope that as with Scarlett, 'tomorrow will be a better day'. I suppose it is manifestation of my competitive spirit, a belief that while what I've already accomplished is never good enough, I want to live another day if only to try again and again to make it better.

Which is why the suicide of such talented individuals is so disturbing. Can't they see all that they have accomplished, how their talent has lifted them above the fray, that they have been given a gift from God that is a blessing to be expanded and explored and shared with the world through their efforts? I can only imagine the debilitating despair that must be so overwhelming as to smother the spark of their creativity or the joy that comes in creating. That pain which tips the scale between the wish to create in favor of the wish to end the suffering.

Because of free will, we have the ability to choose how we will live our lives and ultimately how we will end them. My heart goes out to those standing at the abyss and to their family and friends who undoubtedly feel helpless that they were unable to convey to their loved one that they were loved, that their life was worth living for another day and another. The act of suicide is ultimately the annihilation of hope. My hope is that someday we will find a way to annihilate despair.


Madge said…
"The act of suicide is ultimately the annihilation of hope" that is so true.

I have to say though, every time I hear that someone committed suicide there is a part of me that says, "yeah, I get that."

I'll never do it, but I've been low enough to spend time thinking about it and when I'm there I've honestly had moments when it sounded like the sweetest relief -- and I couldn't see anything else.

But with two kids -- couldn't do it to them.

I love this post.
Keetha said…
I love this post, too. Creative people seem to be so often afflicted with depression - it's awful, insiduous, and worse, it makes it hard to see - the talent, the hope, the creative spark.

Great post.
Ron Davison said…
It seems worthy of a NASA "get to the moon" kind of expenditure and focus to learn how depression takes so many - and not just in death but just in lost days.
Nicely written.
Jennifer S said…
What Madge said...I've been there, but wouldn't be able to do that to my kids and wouldn't want to miss out on their lives. It took a lot of time to know without any doubts that I don't want to miss out on any of mine, either, and that the reasons I felt that kind of despair didn't come from inside me (in my case, not saying it's like that for everyone), but from outside forces.

Really glad you wrote this...
JCK said…
I'm really glad you wrote this, too. You tap into something that is so true, and difficult to talk about. I loved the post title.

Good writing, Suz.
Anonymous said…
I actually have a friend you just died April this year and yes he committed suicide. it was awful, painful. You know hats more painful? its the saying that goes"A person who considers committing suicide is someone who is deprived of ... something, may it be love, attention, or acceptance. The point is sometimes, society is also held liable for a person who is resorting to taking his own life. " And hat can I say? i have been useless as a friend.
Barrie said…
It's very disturbing. And I'm sure there are many instances that are actually suicide but masked by what looks like a drug overdose, etc.

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