I watched Louis C.K.’s latest comedy special via Netflix last night. It was pretty good like his other specials, but something was markedly different this time around. First off, the man was wearing a full suit. I think this is the first stand-up performance he’s done in such attire. It’s a big deal because he literally has a five minute rant on why he never dresses formally for his shows on one of his earlier performances. But his jokes were unsettling, hilarious, and on point per usual. Specifically the first 20 minutes where he talks about mortality, suicide, and pokes fun at how, in a certain sense, it’s weird that suicide isn’t more popular. His anecdotes about tan cars with plastic bags for windows had me in tears, but then as I thought about it more, shit got really real really fast.
I think it’s weird that American culture is keen on not only shoving “BE HAPPY DAMN YOU!” down most of our throats, but also actively avoiding open discussions about death; and by extension, suicide too. I’m pretty confident in the assumption that most everyone has had suicidal thoughts at some time or another. Clearly not to the point of formulating a plan or even taking the mental steps to enact it, but it crops up. I’m just going to preface this now by saying this will be a very heavy post. Also, the irony of talking about this then getting on a plane in six and a half hours later is not lost on me. This could very well be my last post, which is pretty lame. So for that reason, I’ll make it a point to come back alive.
Anyway, suicidal thoughts and the enterprise of suicide in general are interesting to me. It really shows how much power I and everyone around me has in terms of forging a destiny (or shortening it). Humans aren’t hard to kill. We’re fairly fragile beings. Yet we all wield the power to end it all by whatever fashion we choose. I could legit go drive off a cliff after writing this and nobody could stop me. End of the line and all that. It’s such a surreal thing. And I’m not making light of it; suicide is a serious choice and for some people it’s the only choice that makes sense. It may seem incredulous to those on the outside, but demons reside in everyone. Some are more fearsome than others. It’s the ultimate solution though. Like the pinnacle of autonomy.
So when Louie is going on about how he likes life just enough not to kill himself I laughed hard. Because that’s exactly how I feel, despite my optimism and contentment. My life isn’t complete shit. Certainly the opposite, but I think it’s knowledge that this current stage of stagnation is not going to pass at the pace I want or expect. Most of me wants to stick it out and see what the future holds. A piece of me wants to say fuck it and cut the movie short. I can’t even say suicide would be the easy way out. The act is very straight forward sure, but conceptualizing the amount of strife I would trade my life for makes it not worth. There’s too many people I care about to drop a nuclear holocaust level of sadness in their lives. Especially if it was an unwarranted suicide with no real motive. I’m feeling some type of way just thinking about the implications.
Then you have stories and situations where people cannot find it in themselves to go on despite the above reality. I can recall last week (I think) a story about a young guy who took his life because he was being vilified for the suicide of his pregnant significant other. His last moment was a Facebook live video. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such sorrow and hollowness. I was viewing a person with a broken spirit on display. It was harrowing really. And all the while he was bawling, shouting out all of the people he cared about. Admittedly, there might’ve been some mental health things going on, but regardless, the man needed help not alienation. It’s crazy how people tunes changed once they saw the result of such insensitivity. Another thing about the responses to suicide that baffles me is the selfish aspects of valuation on the act. There are some fringe cases where it seems right to contextualize it as a brave or cowardly act. The former being self-sacrifice to save others and the latter being a mass shooter taking his/her own life to avoid justice.
For cases that simply involve the lack of will to live due to whatever circumstance, I don’t think it’s fair to quantify the choice. Pain is relative, but rarely is it perpetual. Some understanding and inclusion would go a long way into preventing people who feel worthless or unwanted from doing something irreversible. I have a feeling, if there is an afterlife of some kind, that some of those people that have taken their lives due to such situations wish they hadn’t. I know I’d be salty if I was going through something unbearable, took my life, then found out I would have done something ridiculously amazing had I just pushed through. But that’s the importance of getting rid of this stigma on mental health and therapy while forming real support groups that aren’t PSA hotlines. Those services are great, but if I was about commit suicide, that’d be the last place I’d consider. I’d feel like I’m snitching on myself, awaiting the white straight jacket and medley of pills.
This post is certainly not coherent in the slightest and I’m probably talking out of my ass at this point, but suffice to say, it’s normal to have these thoughts on occasion. Maybe even in excess depending on the situation. The real travesty is that we, as a society, aren’t willing to have an open discussion about suicide, mental health, and general feelings of depression. Life isn’t a state of one feeling or another, it’s a ridiculous labyrinthine pinwheel of emotions, desires, successes, and failures. To borderline ostracize people that have 15% more shit days than others is the problem.
How about we talk about how shit life seems at the moment while also talking about the positive aspects? Communal suffering breeds solutions that result in community prosperity. If we’re all in the shit, it doesn’t seem so bad. Plus everybody has the capacity for empathy. I want to see all my people shining one way or another, even if I’m still kind of dull because I know that polish is on the way. And if we’re all shining then there’s no reason to stop. Nobody should feel bad for feeling bad. Not everyone has access to the light, so the light has to be brought to them.