|You don't want to die. You want the pain to go away.|
(Originally written, 8/14/2011. Updated 4/18/2017)
I've met a lot of people in my life, a lot. In that group were hundreds that had taken that long walk down the dark tunnel and wanted to do anything to make the pain stop. There is a statement that most of them have said. I know I've said it. I've actually screamed it. "I WISH I COULD GO TO BED AND NEVER WAKE UP."
Why is that so popular? I think deep down inside no one wants to do the deed themselves. They want an external power to come in and whisk them away to peace in another place. I don't know of anyone that successfully wished themselves to death.
Why do we look for ways to commit painless suicide? Because we don't want it to hurt. We've had enough pain.
Like I said, I've done a lot of research on ways to commit suicide. I'll give you a quick rundown:
- Guns - Very messy. And there are plenty of people who do not execute a successful kill shot. Then they have to lay around in agony, possibly bleed to death or wind up a vegetable or with some permanent nerve injury. If they are successful, their family has to come and identify the body and see that horrible exit wound.
- Pills - It's hard to get the right lethal pills. Taking mass quantities of anything can kill you, but most failed suicides are from taking pills. I had a friend that stockpiled medication for months and took 200 pills in one night. She got up to get a drink of water, passed out, gashed her head open and was discovered by a friend who had a funny hunch about her. She's still alive, living in Florida. Plus, the human body has a survival mechanism that will try to reject anything that is bad. Most people who try pills don't die because they vomit so much, the pills never work their way into their system.
- Slashing - Painful and slow. Doesn't always work either. I met a woman when I was in the psychiatric hospital who had cut the entire length of the inside of her forearm. She wound up with a huge scar. That was her third attempt to kill herself. She decided to give up and get on with her life.
- Carbon Monoxide - With today's catalytic converters, this is really hard to do. If it doesn't work, you wind up with burning lungs and inflamed eyes. It may take a while for your system to get the toxins out, but you won't be dead.
- Natural Gas - This is a bad idea. A thermostat, cell phone or TV remote could ignite the gas and cause a massive explosion. You won't die peacefully, you'll burn to death. Plus, you will cause extreme damage to your home or apartment and possibly injure or kill other people.
- Bleach - Very bad. I had a friend in the psyche hospital that tried that. It made her really sick, roasted her esophagus and screwed up her stomach.
- Hanging - This can work if you can construct an execution style hanging, where the body drops several feet and breaks the neck. However, most people can't pull that off, so they die a very painful, slow death. It can take up to five minutes for you to hang yourself to death.
- Drowning - People who have nearly drowned talk about the panic of feeling your lungs fill with water and the excruciating chest pressure.
- Electrocution - Most people wind up with severe burns and nerve damage. It's not pleasant.
- Smothering - Same as hanging, but without the ligature marks around your neck. Hard to do. Most people panic and pull the bags off of their head.
- Jumping - Jumping out of a building creates a huge mess at the bottom. Jumping into a river is like hitting concrete, depending on how high the bridge is. If the impact doesn't kill you, then you have to face the drowning horror.
- Huffing - Breathing toxic chemicals may knock you out, but you'll wake up. I used to work in a chemical plant and I stood over a 5,000 gallon tank of Toulene for hours without a mask. I was real high, but I didn't die. A little bottle from the hardware store won't do much but burn your nostrils and lungs.
- Decapitation - I'm not going to explain how you do this, but if it doesn't work, you'll be a mess the rest of your life.
- Jumping in front of something - People survive incredible car crashes all the time. You might die, but you might just get maimed or lose a limb. Add brain injury to that and it's not fun.
Another thing said at suicide funerals, "We had no idea." People who commit suicide are good at hiding their feelings. You may be doing it right now. You've probably been withdrawing from people. You're spending a lot of time alone. You don't go out anymore. You spend hours and hours in your house or your room. You don't want to be around people. You're fixated on the pain in your life. You don't want to die. You want the pain to stop. So, death starts to seem like the only option. I've been there - more than once.
Let me tell you what happened to me. In 1996, I went to Las Vegas as a comedian. I used to perform on The Strip. I had my name up in lights. Then, I got out of that business, married, had a child and had a great advertising business in Las Vegas. By 2004, our family net worth was at or near $1 Million. Today, I have nothing. Nothing. All the money went away, my wife left, my house was foreclosed, I had a nervous breakdown in 2006 and was diagnosed as being bi-polar and having ADD/ADHD. At one point, a former counselor said to me, "Most people I know that have had what happened to you killed themselves." Gee, thanks.
It got worse. In late 2009, I was working a crappy job while the foreclosure was in process. I had the IRS after me. And I had no money. I had to sell everything to keep the lights on. Then, I developed a severe case of anxiety and couldn't talk, walk or function. I had to be shipped by my family from fabulous Las Vegas to a vacant house in Cleveland, Ohio owned by a friend who is a hoarder. I live in a La-Z-Boy chair in the middle of a mess. I eat in the chair, I sleep in the chair, I watch the 7 channels on my TV in that chair.
In 2010, I was at an appointment with a psychiatrist and he asked me if I had suicidal thoughts. I said, "Yes, all the time." He asked me the magic question, "Do you have a plan?" Being a former comic, I said, "It would be stupid to think about suicide and not have a plan." Whip... out comes a Pink Slip. In every state, if you have suicidal thoughts and you say you have a plan, they have to force you to go to a psychiatric facility for a minimum of 72 hours. It will be longer than 72 hours, I can guarantee you that.
You can think about suicide all you want, but if you have a plan, you get sent away. And if you refuse, the police come and take you away.
I went to one doctor, a general practitioner, and told him I needed help with depression. He told me to go to an emergency room and tell them I wanted to kill myself and I'd get help that way. What an idiot.
Most of the people in the psyche hospital were there for failed suicide or suicidal thoughts. A few were just nuts and one or two were violent offenders. At the psyche hospital, they'll set you up on medications, feed you three times a day, give you snacks, and have you talk to therapists and social workers. For some people, it's a start in a new direction.
I was in there for three weeks. I really didn't want to kill myself before I went in, but I sure did when I got out. I thought, "How low can I go?" For five months, I sat in my chair. Then, one day, I started writing on my laptop. I love to write. On March 7th, 2011, I started working on this blog, which had been idle for five months. This blog and Recovery International have turned my life around. Plus, I realized that someone does love me - my 10 year-old daughter in Las Vegas. And my sister. And Jim and Sal and Pete and Kay and Karina and a bunch of other people that I couldn't see in the darkness.
Right now, you're sitting in darkness. I learned that if you are going to get to the light, your first steps will still be in darkness. Things don't change overnight. But the first thing you need to do is to stop focusing on you and your problems. If you were here, I'd take you to the deli at Dave's Supermarket and buy you a sandwich with my food stamp card. I have nothing. Nothing but this computer - and people that love me. You have both of those things too - a computer and people who love you. You just can't see it now.
Through all of my years, I've learned that our purpose in life is to serve others. Service can be done by a profession - doctor, lawyer, engineer, nurse, real estate agent, entertainer - or you can just go out and help someone. Volunteer. Give an old lady a ride. Read a story to a child. Help clean your grandmother's home. Pick up trash.
You need to get your eyeballs off of painless suicide, the warped mirror, the pain and turn your gaze to others. I know what it feels like to be isolated and alone. My favorite B.B. King song line was, "Nobody loves me but my mother, and she may be jivin' too." Then my mother died - nobody loved me. But I was wrong. And I'm telling you, you're wrong.
If you lost all of your friends, you can make new ones. If you lost all of your money, you can make more. If you were outed and you weren't emotionally ready for it, now you can start living your life, honestly. Embrace it. If you hurt someone, they can forgive you - or maybe you just have to accept it and move on. If you lost your home, you can adjust to less. I live in a chair, and I'm at peace with that. I spend all of my time out, away from the chair at coffee shops and restaurants with FREE WiFi. I'm at Denny's right now. They're open 24 hours. And the staff loves me. I made new friends. I'm practically a legend at Dunkin' Donuts.
In the beginning of my recovery, I couldn't live one day at a time. I had to work on just getting through the next hour. I'm doing so much better. However, Friday, I got hit with some really bad news. I'm down. I'm in a lot of pain. But I'm not thinking about suicide. I decided to come to my blog and write something that may help someone, that may save a life - namely, YOURS.
If I haven't cooled your jets on checking out, do one of the following immediately:
- Call 9-1-1
- Visit the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
- Don't Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in, February 2012 I had a personal crisis and it was not life threatening, but I called the hotline, just to see what would happen. They put me on hold and then the lady who answered the phone hung up on me for using foul language. (Not what you would expect from a "prevention" line.)
If you call 9-1-1 you may be sent to a psychiatric facility for observation for three days. Good chance to chill out and figure out if...
Someone loves you.
If you kill yourself, your pain will only transfer to others. There is no painless suicide.
Your goal, right now, is to try to find ways to ease the pain, get off the path down the dark tunnel, leave your room, get out of your house, open a door for yourself and then open a door for someone you don't know, turn your eyes to the world - it's a beautiful place.
And you know what else... You have something that is unique and different that no one else has. Everyone has it - a special something - skill, talent, idea - that sets them apart from everyone else. You have that. You just can't see it. No two people are alike. There is something you truly love that you should be pursuing. It could be music, sports, math, reading, art, whatever. I love to write. It has saved me. Look deep inside of yourself and write down what you truly love. And make of list of people that would show up at your funeral. They love you.
In closing... I always loved the blues. People say, "But the blues are so damn depressing." Actually, if you understand the blues, the songs talk about a lot of pain, but at the end of every song there is always hope... always hope. And there is no such thing as painless suicide. You've read the complete guide to suicide - it's not pretty. But someone loves you and that is worth a tomorrow.
See you tomorrow... and the next day.
UPDATE, April 18, 2017
Since I wrote this article in 2011, a lot has happened. My will to live has been tested many times. I've been hospitalized with suicidal thoughts twice and went on a manic spree that wound up getting my house surrounded by police. I spent a couple months in a psychiatric facility. While I was in the hospital, my house was broken into and all of my computers, stereo equipment, TV, clothing, cameras, music and pictures were stolen. I was reduced to nothing. That was hard, but I found some sick twisted version of hope in the mess and continued on.
Another time I decided I wanted to burn down the house I rented and went to the emergency room with a book and took a seat. The lady at the desk asked if anything was wrong. I said, "Everything is fine right now, but that could change." Next thing I know I'm in a hospital room and I was detained for 16 hours until they determined that I was delusional and not really an arsonist.
Then, through all the stays at mental hospitals, a cocktail of medications came into form and they have done me well for the last six years. However, I had a major setback in 2016.
I met a woman in 2015 who turned out to be a crack addict. She introduced me to another woman who was also an addict. I started smoking Primos, a joint rolled with a blend of crack, marijuana and tobacco. I liked it. And it continued through all of 2016. By the end of the year, I was completely broke and had squandered my retirement account. Along the way, I lost my best friend, she was the first crack addict I met, and she had recovered.
Her loss and the decimation of my funds put me in a complete suicidal spin. I made a plan and I had the date and time fixed in my mind. When the clock struck 4 am, I just couldn't do it. I paused. It took me a few days to get my head back to "I want to live".
I quit crack on December 31, 2016 and as of this writing, I quit smoking cigarettes on April 15, 2017. Also, it's taken about two and a half years to complete, but I've lost 80 lbs. and am shooting for 100. I go to a gym 4 to 5 days a week and workout for an hour to 90 minutes and I've dramatically transformed myself, in spite of being completely destitute.
A few weeks ago, I had to turn over my finances to my sister, a complete humiliation for a 60 year old man. After my bills are paid, I get a stipend of $100 for the month. That is for gas for my truck, doctor visits, medication, personal items and food. I HAD to quit smoking and I go to a food bank for food. There isn't much left for anything else. So I live in solitude and listen to the radio and read my Bible.
Financially things are worse than they were 7 years ago, but I feel pretty good. I'm starting to write again, I'm thinner, I'm in better shape, my health is good, I'm on the verge of beating diabetes and my 16 year old daughter and I have a wonderful relationship, even though she lives in Las Vegas and I'm still in Cleveland.
Life goes on. Some days are better than others, but when I struggle with the loss of hope, I always find a way to reclaim it. That is what you have to do. Find that glimmer of hope in your life. You will live another day and you won't regret it.
If you want to contact me, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I was away from computers for several years and am just now returning emails, but I'm on the computer every day at the library. I hope to have my own computer again some day. Maybe I'll write a sequel to Painless Suicide - The Complete Guide To Suicide.
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