A hui hou.
September 22, 2011 12:45 AM   Subscribe

In a video (possibly triggering) posted a month before his death, he recalls what his wife said after they watched Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet : "I wonder if she would have still done it, if she had waited for a thousand days." 1000 days after his wife's death, Mark Rife took his own life.

A pastor in Hilo, Hawaii, Mark lived with his wife Sarah until she died in her sleep, months after recovering from a fall from a waterfall. Using the money from her life insurance policy, he traveled around the world and created a website detailing his "1000 Days" of experiences and introspection. As explained in the suicide note video, Mark intended the site to be about “a bit more of my process, how I came to this conclusion.”

Tumblr took the website down days after Mark's death. One of his friends was allowed to view the site after it came down. He writes, "I hope for love of Mark and his legacy and for human decency that it will be republished for others to see, to take the journey, to...step into the emotional story of the last 1000 Days that was my friend, Mark Rife." [Via]
posted by book 'em dano (116 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
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I often hear in suicide prevention that simple things like putting a railing over common suicide spots will cause a big decrease in suicides, since people will stop and realize things aren't so bad, or at least that they can get help.

Perhaps after 1000 days of living life to the fullest Mark realized that all he could do was die. There's something to be said for that - a Ripley's Believe It Or Not talked of a mystic who did the same. He enjoyed life, he left on a poignant note, and he left with a story.

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posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:01 AM on September 22, 2011


This troubles a lot of the standard discourse of suicide. Here is someone that acknowledged the seriousness of the act and his own suicidal desire shortly after the trauma, reflected at length on it, and apparently posted a great deal of his process for everyone to see. Finally, after several years, he made his decision. Our response as a society (not his friends, but public society) is to censor his publication, dismiss his right to choose, and label him mentally ill. Now his 1000 days are down the memory hole, thanks to tumblr. What a waste. Hopefully they restore it.
posted by mek at 1:02 AM on September 22, 2011 [106 favorites]


There was a philosopher who said the big question of the age is why not kill yourself? He may have been ill, but every action we do leads to the same road. I enjoy walking the long way home, but isn't it just as rational to catch the train?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:04 AM on September 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


This isn't the way things are supposed to go. I'm angry at death.

If you are contemplating suicide, don't play that card. Talk to someone. Ask for help. Pursue hope, not death.


And yet in a more rational and compassionate world we could acknowledge that sometimes there really isn't a suitable cure for trauma, for loss, or for a broken heart, and that it's just too much pain for some to simply carry on like everything is ok.

In such a world I'd like to think that someone who makes that choice wouldn't have to do it alone in shame and guilt, with remorse and without understanding from those who love them.

If I ever went that route I'd much rather throw a party, be at my own wake and actually be able to say goodbye in person. Face to face.

Is that morbid? Yeah, probably. But it's also probably less morbid and more self-aware then going through an entire life in excruciating pain - or, say, drinking oneself to death, or drinking and driving and taking someone innocent with you, or leaving a trail of twisted emotional wreckage created by dysfunction.
posted by loquacious at 1:10 AM on September 22, 2011 [49 favorites]


I'm afraid I don't see death as an unknown, as something possibly better. For me it's a known nothing, a deeply evident emptiness. But if he does believe in an afterlife, then I guess it makes a kind of sense...
posted by deticxe at 1:10 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recall a right-to-die case in the UK of a couple which both had terminal illnesses. Their statement has always stuck, "we have lived full, wonderful lives and now ask to go in a way that we can control, with dignity, and without suffering." Having not given much thought to the issue before, that provoked quite a bit of thinking and discussions.

The first discover was how difficult it is to discuss suicide as an action rather than a symbolic statement. To look objectively at a specific instance without getting caught in the shared meaning of all instances.

Reading briefly about the chap Mark Rife, he does not seem to have been looking to make a grand statement, rather he was following a personal line of philosophical inquiry, that in end, saw him end his life. There's neither beauty nor poignancy here -- beyond his ability to follow-through. But there also does not seem to exist desperation or escapism. Obviously his actions were carefully considered and he spent his last 1000 days enmeshing himself in the larger world, enriching both himself and those he met.

Overall, I'm neither proud of him nor do I feel the need to judge. Rather, I respect him for his thoroughness and have compassion for the loss of his wife. I doubt he can be considered to have died in vain -- he seems intrinsically satisfied in this action. Further, he is providing us to open a larger conversation about the issue. Though as has been mentioned here, this will probably be buried as society does not want to have these conversations.

Not having these discussions is a serious problem as with increasing physical lifespans, the issue of 'controlling one's exit' is going to become a significant issue in the near future.

Regardless, there is sadness, thus I hope Mark and wife are now happily reclining in whatever version of the afterlife to which they arrived.
posted by nickrussell at 1:32 AM on September 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hope they restore his website. It seems pretty wrong to just delete what was clearly a huge labor of love on his part.
posted by Nattie at 1:39 AM on September 22, 2011 [19 favorites]


Here is someone that acknowledged the seriousness of the act and his own suicidal desire shortly after the trauma, reflected at length on it, and apparently posted a great deal of his process for everyone to see. Finally, after several years, he made his decision.

Are you under the impression that people who have suicidal ideation don't do all those things? Aside, of course, from posting the process on a blog for everyone to see, but then again some people do commit suicide in the middle of the street. So I'm not gathering why this is A-Okay as opposed to other suicides. If someone is on the brink of death regardless of the action they take but had to go through tremendous pain to get there then that is a different story.
This just sounds like reality didn't jive with how he wanted it to be and that caused him enough distress to do what he did. I suspect there is nothing to be gleamed from his blog, and I do mean nothing other than a sad story. Plain and simple sadness.
Somehow I don't see the blog generating good things and I think they did the smart thing by taking it down
posted by P.o.B. at 1:48 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


P.o.B., your need to label and dismiss this man as irrational is exactly what I was getting at.
posted by mek at 1:52 AM on September 22, 2011 [16 favorites]


I think there are several pervasive myths about suicide.

1. It's generally a rational decision that life is not worth living.

2. Even if you prevent a particular suicide attempt, then they'll just use a different opportunity to do it.

3. People who talk about it aren't going to do it.

These are not true.

1. People who make suicide attempts are often suffering from depression or mental illness, and are not thinking rationally.

2. People who are prevented from one attempt mostly don't make another. Just 6 percent of those rescued from a suicide attempt on the Golden Gate bridge went on to commit suicide. Changing from poisonous coal gas to natural gas reduced the suicide rate in Britain. Installing barriers at one Washington DC bridge didn't increase suicides at the next bridge.

3. From 2/3 to 3/4 of suicides communicate their intentions to others.

So, what worries me about this story is that by concentrating on the case of an apparently rational and considered suicide, it helps feed myths 1 and 2. Sure, this kind of suicide happens. It may even be a fairly common minority of suicides. But it's not a typical suicide, and we should remember that.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:15 AM on September 22, 2011 [22 favorites]


I suspect there is nothing to be gleamed from his blog, and I do mean nothing other than a sad story. Plain and simple sadness.
Somehow I don't see the blog generating good things and I think they did the smart thing by taking it down


It sounds like there was something important to take away from that blog: a rarely-expressed insight into grief. That has a lot more redeeming social value than the typical Tumblr project.

Even as they hurt the value of their service to society a bit by removing the blog, Tumblr no doubt did the pragmatic "smart thing" by removing the site. They protected themselves from relatives of suicides suing them with ludicrous claims that a blog could incite otherwise healthy people to take their own lives. Which is a shame because I for one would like to learn more about his perspective, in order to better understand grief and how other people see the world.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:30 AM on September 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


"But I insist that I am rational!"
"That's exactly what an irrational person would insist."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:32 AM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


your need to label and dismiss this man as irrational is exactly what I was getting at.

A) I never dismissed him.
B) I have an Abnormal Psych 101 textbook if you need to borrow it.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:47 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Psychology is so rooted in specific cultural viewpoints isn't it?
posted by infini at 2:50 AM on September 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


a rarely-expressed insight into grief.

Rarely? You can go down and volunteer at suicide prevention centers and I think you might get your fill.

Psychology is so rooted in specific cultural viewpoints isn't it?

Right, because suicide is a common thing in which cultures now?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:58 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


... pervasive myths about suicide.

1. It's generally a rational decision that life is not worth living.

...not true.

1. People who make suicide attempts are often suffering from depression or mental illness, and are not thinking rationally.


With all due respect, because I'm sure that you have strong reasons for feeling this way, no one has the authority to make that decision or declaration for someone else.

I'm not remotely suicidal or even depressed, but thinking about Mr. Rife's story leads me to the conclusion that this can (not "must be") be a personal decision that everyone else needs to accept. For many people, fulfillment is a house of cards that could utterly fall apart with a jolt to its base. Whether rebuilding is feasible or worthwhile is really the decision of that individual, assuming that said decision is well-considered and not rash.

I don't want to think too hard about something morbid like losing my spouse and child, but if that were to happen, I'm sure that I would absolutely consider Rife's route. Even if the individual is depressed, depression is pain and it is not always possible to treat it effectively. Thinking that depression always gets better would seem to be a hopeful lie because it appears that for some people it's not the case. Requiring someone to live with a great burden is not humane if they are absolutely sure that they don't want to.

Some people have the temperament to recover and thrive (or at least find some worthwhile satisfaction) in their life after suffering the ultimate disappointments, others don't. By all means, if someone we care for were to be at risk for self-harm, we should make it clear that we will do everything in our power to help them right their lives and make it fulfilling. But I don't think that dismissing all thoughts of suicide as the workings of an unsound mind is in the best interest of preventing suffering. We're all here temporarily and I think that objectively it would be better to simply be gone rather than labor in misery for the sake of not making everyone else uncomfortable about their own mortality.

I know that this is a contentious subject and that people have very good reasons for taking exception to this position, often because a loved one has taken their own life rashly or in a manner perceived as rash. I apologize to anyone who might find my position offensive or naive, seeing as how its formed from consideration rather than personal experience.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:05 AM on September 22, 2011 [43 favorites]


We're all here temporarily and I think that objectively it would be better to simply be gone rather than labor in misery for the sake of not making everyone else uncomfortable about their own mortality.

Well said Mayor Curley. Well said.
posted by three blind mice at 3:23 AM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


The whole time he was describing how great his 1000 days were, and all the wonderful things he encountered, I couldn't help thinking, "well, yeah... but you still decided to kill yourself".

Everybody has to live their own life and nobody else can do it for them; we can't ever really know what another person is going through, so I can't judge this guy for doing what he did. I do seriously question the wisdom of 'it gets better - but not good enough' as a general rationale for suicide though. I wonder if Rife ever had to counsel suicidal parishioners as a pastor, those who might have lost loved ones themselves, and what his advice might have been to them in that situation.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:30 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I agree that those who really have nothing to look forward to in life should have the right to exit gracefully, but I feel like a lot of Americans in particular still believe in some kind of afterlife and will often die mistakenly thinking they will wake up somewhere awesome where they have a new chance at things. In light of dualism's immanent downfall, doesn't it make sense to try to gently guide some of these depressed people back to the present moment to try and find a less final solution?
posted by Mooseli at 3:32 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Co-incidentally I have just finished listening to a Thinking Allowed podcast:
He examines a new book seeking to understand suicide and talks to a sociologist about family secrets. Ben Fincham is a Lecturer in Sociology at Sussex University and his book 'Understanding Suicide: A Sociological Autopsy' assesses sociological work in this area and explores what can be known about the motivation and lives of suicidal people. He's joined by Dr Mike Shiner, a Senior Research Fellow in the Mannheim Centre for Criminology at London School of Economics.
Well worth a listen if you are interested in the discussion here.
posted by Megami at 3:44 AM on September 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


1. People who make suicide attempts are often suffering from depression or mental illness, and are not thinking rationally.
With all due respect, because I'm sure that you have strong reasons for feeling this way, no one has the authority to make that decision or declaration for someone else.
Regarding my reasons, I've already linked to this paper by Eli Robins Some clinical considerations in the prevention of suicide based on a study of 134 successful suicides and others. But also, here are abstracts of A Hundred Cases of Suicide: Clinical Aspects and Mental Illness and Suicide: A Case-Control Study in East Taiwan, both of which also say that majority of suicides are suffering mental illness.

Regarding who has the authority to declare someone else to be insane or irrational, I'm not sure whether this means legally or morally. Legally, I think pretty much every legal jurisdiction has some procedure for some authority to declare someone insane and put them under some kind of restraint. Morally, I think this is valid, though not everyone will agree.

Now, I'm not saying every suicide is irrational. I think some fraction of suicides, especially in cases of people with terminal illnesses, probably are rational. But from the Golden Gate Bridge rescue study, only 6% of those rescued went on to commit suicide: upon reflection 94% of them changed their minds. Of the 6% who did commit suicide, not all of them may have been rational: they may have been irrational twice. So at a rough guess, I'd guess that about 5% of suicides at most are rational. And by rational, I don't mean rational as judged by me, but rational as judged by them in the long term.

The way I think of it is this. Imagine a graph of your happiness level as a wiggly line extending across the page. It goes up and down in response to external events: a sunny day, a sarcastic insult, a nice meal, a headache; and maybe random fluctuations in your brain chemistry or hormones. Now imagine a straight line somewhere below that: the suicide line. When your happiness level falls below that point, life doesn't seem worth living.

The problem is that Plato was wrong. Man isn't a rational animal: humans are rationalizing animals. When your happiness falls below this line, your mind casts around for reasons to explain why life isn't worth living. And as long as your happiness level is below this line, those reasons are going to seem convincing.

But what the statistics tell us is that most of the time, when your happiness is below the suicide line, this is the low point of your life. Most of the time, if you can just hang on, or if others force you to live, you're never going to feel that bad again. For the rest of your life, your happiness graph will stay above the suicide line.

As I said, this is just most of the time. Some people will keep trying again and again and again to commit suicide. Maybe this means that their happiness graph is permanently below the suicide line. Or maybe it just crosses it occasionally. Maybe they're happy enough to live for 364 days of the year, but on the 365th day they're not, and that's when they commit suicide.

Because the problem is, when you're fighting depression, you have to beat it every day. Depression only has to win once.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:55 AM on September 22, 2011 [34 favorites]


My thought is this: you can't pick up someone's burdens and carry them for them, nor would you be willing to do so if it were possible. Why, then, do you have the right to say that they must carry them for an unknown number of years, rather than saying: "No, I'm done"? Are the only options either living unhappily until something kills you or paying a tax to the pharmaceutical companies to deaden your emotions?
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:58 AM on September 22, 2011 [19 favorites]


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posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:58 AM on September 22, 2011


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posted by TrinsicWS at 4:15 AM on September 22, 2011


I think the much more important point here is the fallacious and sad assumption that the "cloud" has any kind of permanence. That if you build an art project, or memorial, or shrine, or anything -- that it will hang around after you stop caring about it. And it's not just the ephemerality of electrons vs. a diary or painting, it's that everything on the internet is there because someone is paying a monthly or yearly bill for it to exist. When the bills stop being paid, things go away. But it's not just bills, either -- you can get people just arbitrarily deciding that their business models have changed and, well, sorry, we're not doing that any more so we're gonna delete your stuff.

I know the Internet Archive is working on this issue but I think there needs to be a grander solution. I don't know what that solution is, but as the output of the first world becomes more and more just electrons on harddrives somewhere rather than crap stuffed in attics, this "active" form of bit rot (intentional deletion by third parties) is going to become more and more prevalent. And, I argue, dangerous, to our heritage, history and memories.

I'm sorry for this guy's pain, but I'm even sorrier that the record of his journey could simply be wiped out (or hopefully just hidden) by the callous decision of people who are not qualified to judge its value to others.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:16 AM on September 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


TheophileEscargot... pervasive myths about suicide.

1. It's generally a rational decision that life is not worth living.

...not true.

1. People who make suicide attempts are often suffering from depression or mental illness, and are not thinking rationally.

Mayor Curley..... With all due respect, because I'm sure that you have strong reasons for feeling this way, no one has the authority to make that decision or declaration for someone else.


Mayor, you're right as far as it goes, but the fact is, borne out from many, many studies, and many therapeutic interventions is that cognitive distortions appear to oscillate out of control for those who suffer from them to the degree that many seriously depressed (even mildly and moderately depressed) to be completely rational. This is the primary tragedy of depression, especially depressions that unnecessarily end in suicide.

The thing here is that a serious, suicidal depression is an *experiential* series of events that is almost impossible to relate to another - or even discuss - in the abstract. The pain experienced is intolerable - to the degree that one's choice to end it all is often an act of "rushing to death" (Alvarez, "On Suicide"). Often, for the sufferer, just knowing that one can end it all at any time can bring some relief; that's why some people hang on for a long time - sometimes successfully. In no way can a suicidal depression - even if under some means of personal "control", be called anything other than extremely dangerous. It's like pregnancy, in a way; you can hear about it; go to classes; imagine what it feels like; etc....but when you're in the throes of a 24 hour labor you realize that no abstract imagining even comes close - not even close.

I have known a number individuals who have suffered from serious depression; they liken it to the darkest and most painful thing that they have ever experienced, including excruciating physical pain.

I am not going to judge Mark Rife. He did what he did, for his own reasons. Maybe he was depressed; maybe he wasn't. Maybe he made a rational decision that was not at all influenced by a cascade of serious cognitive distortions; maybe not.

Having said that, I do feel that it's important to say that most suicides DO result from immense psycho-physiological pain (serious depression often presents as intolerable psychic and physical pain).

My advice to anyone who is considering the act of suicide, no matter how rational that act may seem to the actor in question, is that it might be best to check out his/her desire with someone that can present another perspective - ideally someone trained to quickly get to the bottom of the cause of the depression, and treat it with therapy and/or medication. There is no reason to live in misery, sadness, and darkness if one can find a key to unlock the distortions that put one there in the first place.

We lost Mark Rife; we lost Mark Rife's entire world; the world that he might yet have made more of, and shared. We can be sad about that; we have that right. We can also celebrate the fact that Mr. Rife ended his own life in a way of his choosing. I'm not going to get into that discussion. Mark Rife is with all of us in another way, now; that's what we have left. It's not a good thing, or a bad thing; it just is. We're left with that. His close family and friends are left with that. They will see it the way they choose, just like you and I do.

Last, there is a tendency to romanticize suicide; it's in our literary tradition. The only thing that concerns me about Mr. Rife's act is that it could put a depressed person over the edge.

Thus, my plea to all: If you are ever feeling hopeless to the point of considering suicide, go *immediately* to get professional help. See where that takes you. At least - at the very least - give yourself the benefit of the doubt.. Your life is a gift, not only to you, but to all you encounter, and to all the reality that you distill and make real for those others. You owe it not only to yourself, but to them.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:19 AM on September 22, 2011 [15 favorites]


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posted by Vibrissae at 4:19 AM on September 22, 2011


apologies: my first paragraph, above, should read:

"Mayor, you're right as far as it goes, but the fact is, borne out from many, many studies, and many therapeutic interventions is that cognitive distortions appear to oscillate out of control for those who suffer from them to the degree that many seriously depressed (even mildly and moderately depressed) persons think that they are making a rational decision, absent any other influence. Cognitive distortions, taken to extreme, lead one down the hellhole of a very distorted view of reality, and potential options. This is the primary tragedy of depression, especially depressions that unnecessarily end in suicide
posted by Vibrissae at 4:26 AM on September 22, 2011


With all due respect, because I'm sure that you have strong reasons for feeling this way, no one has the authority to make that decision or declaration for someone else.

With all due respect, I'm pretty sure this is exactly what the entire science of psychiatry was developed for--and in a related vein the sciences of statistics, forensics and criminology. You can argue your personal opinions about mental health practices and/or your personal morality about suicide but if you're going to break this argument all the way down to "no one truly has the right to analyze another person's state" then I really don't see how or where we can argue this. If I read this wrong apologies but with likewise "strong reasons" I'm personally aware of how someone in authority making a decision/declaration saved a life.

That said, and admittedly having not been able to see his website, I think the arbitrary deletion sort of diminishes the greater point of this story, which is one I'm sure I'm in the minority on- it's still awful and stupid that he killed himself. From what I read/how I read it, this is basically the story of a man who faced immense grief, worked through that grief by seeing more of the world and accomplishing more things than most of us have ever done or will do... and then decided his life still wasn't worth living. I don't know what the exact opposite of "hope" is but whatever it is that's what this gave me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:34 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I spent a month in a nursing home recovering from surgery a few years back. It was not a very nice nursing home, but the residents were not maltreated, as best as I could see.

What I did see were people who were terrified because they were demented. It seemed that some of them (judging from the cries I heard from my room) were trapped in hell for long periods of time, maybe more often than not. If somebody said to me, hey, guess what, in a few years I'm going to lose my mind and will be trapped in a nightmare until I finally die, X years later, so I'm gonna off myself now, okay? I would honor their decision.

From that point, in the absence of a diagnosis of depression, philosophically, how can I then say, this suicide = crazy and that suicide = rational.

I remember the young child of some coworkers died a few years back. As the sympathy card went around for the grieving parents, I saw somebody had written 'God only gives us as much as we can handle.'

Lordy, I wish that were true.
posted by angrycat at 4:41 AM on September 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


this story reminds me of the French author and blogger Jean Louis Fraysse aka Michel Grimaud who committed suicide 8 months after his wife's death
he couldn't live without her
posted by hopefulmidlifer at 4:45 AM on September 22, 2011


But from the Golden Gate Bridge rescue study, only 6% of those rescued went on to commit suicide: upon reflection 94% of them changed their minds.

And you don't think the physically novel act of jumping from a bridge causes cognitive distortions?

I am not suicidal. I think that "It's generally a rational decision that life is not worth living" is a defensible statement. I think that, of course, if you start with the assumption that the mentally healthy people want to avoid death at any cost, and certainly aren't going to bring death upon themselves, then you're going to find a high rate of mental illness among people who attempt suicide. This isn't meant to minimize mental illness (and certainly has nothing to do with the great loss and pain that those left behind feel). But there are plenty of reasonable ways to live one's life that aren't fanatically at odds with death.
posted by Casuistry at 5:10 AM on September 22, 2011


My mother's father drank himself to death after my grandmother died. My father became someone I did not recognize after my mom died. Fortunately, he was able to find someone and he's still going. I dare not imagine what would happen if I were to lose my wife.

I can't condone what Mark Rife did, but I understand why he did it.
posted by tommasz at 5:13 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yet another reason not to use Tumblr. Christ, what a shitty blogging platform.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:26 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


if you're going to break this argument all the way down to "no one truly has the right to analyze another person's state" then I really don't see how or where we can argue this.

My point's not that cut and dry. You certainly have a right to analyze another person's state, you can even make judgments about it. But when you're assessing another individual, you're always an outsider. You can't know anything inside them absolutely, you can only make informed estimates.

And a trained and experienced person would probably be right most of the time, unless they're working from a biased perspective that suicide is always the wrong decision or wrong unless there is grave physical illness.

If you believe in free will, I think that you are forced to accept that an individual has the right to decide whether they live or die.

A great many of the people who elect to die are not exercising free will because they are constrained by mental defect. However, believing that wanting to end one's life outside of chronic illness necessarily constitutes mental defect is anathema to belief in the existence of free will. Life is a series of rewards and sufferings, and for some people there will be a ratio so slanted that the potential rewards will never be justified by the suffering that must be endured to get them.

I am not suggesting that the proper attitude is "go on! Kill yourself!" But I take exception to the automatic assumption that Rife was mentally unsound when he committed suicide: he may well have made a justified personal decision that in the face of continued hardship.

What if he had elected to continue living and spent the next 40 years dreading every day before dying of old age? What would he have accomplished? What would we as a society have accomplished if we prevented his suicide? People say "it gets better." I don't think it always does and free-thinking individuals shouldn't be forced to take that chance if they do not wish.

We can argue all day over whether he was of sound mind. I won't concede that he automatically was not because of his decision, and we don't know him and probably aren't qualified for formal assessment anyway. I'm assuming for this argument that his decision was rationally and carefully weighed-- no one else could make that choice for him.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:28 AM on September 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


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posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 5:29 AM on September 22, 2011


If Tumblr doesn't want to host the site, they need to make it available to someone who does. Kneejerk burying of this very odd, very sad story does no one any good.

Seriously, Tumblr: give the content to someone else.
posted by mediareport at 5:32 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tumblr said someone requested (not family) it come down initially. Negative feelings and fear of copycats. So Tumblr obliged. I hope for love of Mark and his legacy and for human decency that it will be republished for others to see, to take the journey, to stop censoring a life that likely felt censored from a young age, to step into the emotional story of the last 1000 Days that was my friend, Mark Rife.
posted by mediareport at 5:33 AM on September 22, 2011


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I did 6 months (out of a 12 month committment) on a Suicide Prevention hotline. I'm told that 6 months is about average. It was a great learning experience but a horrible day to day experience. Half of the folks who called in just wanted to talk and had learned by prior calls that they had to pretend to be somewhat critical in order to stay on the line. A quarter of the people who called in were sort of considering it but were easily dissuaded. About 15% just liked to jerk our chains and be shown concern. Maybe 5-10% were serious and we were their last hope.

We had a lot of methods at our disposal including possibly a trace and police intervention, but the way that worked best with folks who were serious and about to execute was a thorough and shockingly blunt exploration of what could go wrong and how crippled they could be if they screwed it up.

A few years later, I had the situation happen that I referred to in an old AskMe post where a lover of mine held me emotionally hostage to her suicidal ideations. I ended that by calling the cops on her. Her friends absolutely HATED me for that, but she herself came around and years later thanked me for intervening. I have no idea if her other friends ever got over it.

How do I feel about suicide? I'm pro-choice. But if you involve me in it, I WILL call the cops on your ass, because I don't play that emotional hostage game. Not with anyone.

With strangers, I don't know. I probably would have thought about calling the cops on this guy too (had I known). I figure if you are absolutely serious about suiciding, you gather the means, you have the motive, and you just go do it. If you go do it without telling anyone else about it, it's absolutely your choice, and I hope that it's ultimately what you wanted. If you involve anyone else, I figure it's a cry for help. That includes a video message left a month before the event.

On the other hand, self-elected euthanasia before suffering effects of a debilitating and incurable disease (as with Sir Terry Pratchett) is something I generally don't have a problem with. As long as the legal process is followed sanely and carefully by all parties.
posted by kalessin at 5:44 AM on September 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Tumblr said someone requested (not family) it come down initially

And yet a tumblr dedicated to My Little Pony porn stays up. Tumblr certainly has some weird policies.
posted by ymgve at 5:50 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know pain that does not end. Too much suffering. I understand those who need to leave. But I have to imagine--- if we were ever to perfect love--- if we were ever to really understand how to truly be there for those in need..... if we knew how to give selfless to people in unbearable suffering---


There must be a way to carry those whose hearts are aching too much for them to carry themselves. There must be a way to find something--- something better than just an early death.

We make pills and stuff people with them, but is that how to comfort someone with unbearable grief? Perhaps, we're doing the wrong things.

Perhaps we aren't honoring the amount of life pain some humans carry. At least I hope, over time... we will find a better way to help and honor those who carry an unbearable burden.
posted by xarnop at 5:52 AM on September 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you involve anyone else, I figure it's a cry for help. That includes a video message left a month before the event.

The guy left a detailed, apparently years-long "cry for help." Sorry, but this case doesn't seem to fit any of the standard rules. I understand folks might not agree with Mark's decision (we can discuss that for a long time), but anyone who agrees that Tumblr botched its handling of his blog should send a note to enquiries@tumblr.com, the only contact email I could find at the site.

Here's mine:

I'm appalled that your company has chosen to utterly erase from the net the
detailed record of a sad and provocative story. If Tumblr doesn't have the
guts to stand by the non-obscene content of its users, which seems clear at
this point, then please make that content available to someone else to
publish. Allowing just one close friend to see what Mark had created is
insulting to the memory of the dead and, again, appalling behavior from your
company.

I understand you are probably concerned about the impact Mark's work may
have on other people. Erasing that work from human memory is not the way to
deal with that concern. Framing it intelligently is. If you're not willing
to make that effort, then give the content to someone who is.

posted by mediareport at 5:58 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


A great many of the people who elect to die are not exercising free will because they are constrained by mental defect. However, believing that wanting to end one's life outside of chronic illness necessarily constitutes mental defect is anathema to belief in the existence of free will.
This is ignoring the point that since the majority of "rescued" suicides don't go on to commit suicide, there is therefore a difference between their short term free will and their long term free will.

Therefore, we have two options when considering whether to forcibly restrain someone healthy who wants to commit suicide.

1. Let them commit suicide
Pro: In a minority of cases (6% or so) we are allowing them to follow their long-term free will.
Con: In a majority of cases (94% or so) they die when their long-term free will would be to live.

2. Restrain them temporarily
Pro: In a majority of cases, (94% or so) we save their lives and allow them their long-term free will.
Con: In a minority of cases (6% or so) we temporarily delay their "rational" decision to end their lives.

I think the free will argument and the euthanasia argument are red herrings here. We're not denying the existence for free will by looking at a different timescale for exercising it. If you favour euthanasia as an option for people with terminal or degenerative illnesses, it's possible for a legal system to allow that with a doctor's approval; but still stick an average attempted bridge-jumper in a psych ward until he's had the chance to think it over.

I think there's always been a strong tendency to romanticize suicide, going back to "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Sorrows of Young Werther". I'd rather people thought of it as something like Infectious Diarrhea: an unpleasant illness that leaves a horrible stinking mess behind.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:59 AM on September 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


After her cremation, her cremains were stolen out of his car.
posted by ColdChef at 6:01 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I feel for this guy, and I've been lucky enough to never be in a situation anywhere near to his, but his grotesque warping of the "It Gets Better" campaign is just horrible, and completely undermines the original message. He says in the video "yes, it gets better, but better isn't good enough".

Yes, better IS good enough because that's all there is. How dare he take a campaign designed to prevent suicide and muddle it with his own romanticized view of killing yourself?
posted by Riptor at 6:02 AM on September 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Photos from his memorial service.
posted by ColdChef at 6:04 AM on September 22, 2011


"I figure if you are absolutely serious about suiciding, you gather the means, you have the motive, and you just go do it. If you go do it without telling anyone else about it, it's absolutely your choice, and I hope that it's ultimately what you wanted. If you involve anyone else, I figure it's a cry for help. That includes a video message left a month before the event."

I agree with this completely. I can't imagine us trying to be "empowering" by having to watch people tell us their plans to end it and not being able to intervene because of trying to respect free agency.

So far as the law goes if you tell someone, we should try to intervene and let the person know what help is a available and see if things can't get better for them. I don't think we should set up a society where people are running blogs with "countdown to death day!" counters and we all just have to stand around and watch.

If you want to end it, go end it, don't torture everyone around you that does care about you with making them wait unsure if you're really going to do it and going through all the emotions of watching that.

Also I think his message is about proving to the world he needed to do this and that IS a terrible message for people going through pain that need some hope to hold on to.

For some people that hope might not pan out into the promised "better" and I think what needs to be honored is that we haven't really fully developed the skills to really provide the right kind of supports to a lot of people in pain.

To me---- that means we need to work on how to provide better, more appropriate support--- not that we need to stop trying to prevent suicide.
posted by xarnop at 6:05 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pro-choice myself about suicide, and have a kind of double think about it in that I would try to stop/help someone I knew was trying or on the verge of trying it, while at the same time respecting their right to choose it.

I also have a bit of a problem with the attitude that elective euthanasia in the case of someone who is physically ill and in pain is understandable but that people who are mentally ill and/or in psychic pain always made the wrong choice and/or are irrational. Not every problem has a solution and as everyone knows even state of the art medical facilities can be pretty helpless when it comes to treating mental illness. Chronic psychic pain can be just as hard to bear as chronic physical pain and people who endure it can sometimes be perfectly reasonable in their desire to escape it the only way that's available to them.
posted by orange swan at 6:09 AM on September 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


To be or not to be?

This has certainly been a difficult thread to process.

The only truth here seems to be that this was a caring man, a good man, one who leaves a gap behind. We cannot know what he experienced, or how he felt, or how the world appeared to him. The inability to experience beauty and joy must be terrible indeed.

.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:11 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that people find this unique or surprising. I don't find it useful to classify it as rational or irrational because people are irrational all the time, suicidal or not.

I do find it a very normal situation in which someone would commit suicide.

Not from a scientific perspective, but a personal perspective on trauma and grief:

Anniversaries are bad. 1000 days isn't a standard calendar anniversary, but it's still a significant reminder.

The end of a trip, job, or project is always a let-down. There's nothing more to plan or do, no more distractions, and if you haven't planned anything afterwards you don't have anything to look forward to.

Giving yourself a deadline by which to be normal or over the trauma or grief: extremely depressing. Extremely. Part of what is horrifying about trauma is the feeling that you're a completely different (damaged) person and that you'll be that way forever. You have to allow time to slowly get to know yourself again and accept that things are different, but that they are still okay, and it does take time. You backslide, you have new hope, you mourn your old self, and it's a cycle that lasts a long, long time.

A deadline doesn't give you any room to do that. A deadline says "that's it, either you're fixed now or you're done forever". But you know that you will feel badly again in the future because it is a cycle. It is also hard to see the big picture when you're in it, and who knows if you'll feel good about your progress or mood at any certain slice of time.

It's also very easy to say in a bad moment "it's been 1000 days (or whatever) and I still feel horrible" and feel like that's an obvious sign there's no hope. Frustrated, disappointed, exhausted. That's ignoring the number of days that you've felt good, the number of days you felt okay.

It hides the way that the okay and good days are starting to add up to something very worthwhile.

So I am not surprised. I don't find this exceptionally well thought-out or rational. I especially don't find it romantic, which is what a few people have been hinting at.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:13 AM on September 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


His sermon entitled: "How to Raise the Dead", where he talks about one of his favorite movies, Will Ferrell's "Stranger Than Fiction".
posted by ColdChef at 6:13 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's anything wrong with believing a) that a given person has the right to end their life by choice and b) still wanting to help that person not do so, or even better, make enough care available so they never have to get to that point. Euthanasia to end pain is a slightly different issue.

I wish the money spent on his 1000 days had included some therapy; if I were his friend, I would have found this project incredibly painful to watch, a slow-motion death.

Maybe if he'd been less isolated; maybe if he'd gotten care he'd still be here. Would his wife have wanted him to die that way? Seems unlikely. I would hate to think any of my loved ones would kill themselves because I died. I would much rather they honored my memory by living and thriving.
posted by emjaybee at 6:15 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Another sermon: Questioning God.
posted by ColdChef at 6:17 AM on September 22, 2011


It makes me both sad and angry that, rather than sharing what he loved about Sarah with the world—what it was about her that made his life so joyous, and who he became through knowing her—he just pulled the plug on everything and let it all just stop right there, substituting a fragmentary collection of sound and fury, signifying nothing, fizzling away into the digital miasma.

Who was Sarah?

I'll never know. Their friends and family will remember, for a time, then move on with their lives, and she'll be more and more distant by the day. The person who knew her best, who was animated by her energy and who loved her more than anyone else, isn't around to give testimony, to tell the little stories about the way she was, and the things that made her smile, the things that made her happy and the things that made her melancholy. He's not there to take up her causes, and voice her concerns, and to share her with the world. A seed in a broken pot can be moved into another pot. A life cut short can continue to inspire, to amuse, and to invigorate, but only when someone picks up that guttering flame and adds it to their own fire.

Instead, we have two graves and a paltry, faddish tribute.

Maybe I'm not romantic enough. Maybe I'm angry about this because I've been there, and been the subject of the first flush of love after the end of a world for someone who saw nothing left in life but to run out the clock, hoping to meet his lost love again, or maybe take a shorter route. I should be glad that someone else didn't have to go through being that unexpected person who is seen sometimes as a lover and sometimes as a booby prize, but having been there, I'm just sorry that Mark Rife decided neither Sarah nor himself were worth saving.

For me, I caught those moments, when I could tell he was grooming me to tell his story. He did a lot of writing about [X], and I'd help him edit and refine his writing, honing them down from jerky, staccato jams into whole, honest things.

"You know I'm not going to write these stories," I said once.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not going to write about you and [X]. I'll write about me and you, but I'm not going to tell your stories."

"But you're such a good writer."

"They're not my stories. I'm just peripheral to your life."

"Don't say that. I—"

"I will never tell your stories, [Z]. Either you do it, or they get forgotten."

I took a hard line. To this day, I know more about [X] than anyone but him, but I will not share what I know. Six years after we went our separate ways, [Z] and I talk most days, and I often ask him if he's writing yet, and I've gone from being the booby prize to the noodge, but he's hanging in there. He's doing well, with a career that's back on track, and not long ago, he finally told me he'd found someone—a grinding revelation that hurts, even as I celebrate that it's happened. Did I have anything to do with that? It's hard to say. If I say I hope so, I want to smash things and draw blood, but I do hope so.

Does he think about going early, sometimes, to see [X]? I would imagine so.

With luck, he'll remember that there's only one way for [X] to live on, and it's not a collection of videos, or a bit of writing, or stories told with damp eyes. I carry my father, my grandmothers, my lost childhood friends, and everyone I've loved who isn't here anymore. People know my father without ever having met him because of me. My grandmother's wisdom is around to enlighten because of me. The kid I knew from Sunday School, who was kind and honest and upright in the face of the bullies who badgered me, is around to remind me that being kind and honest and upright counts for something. I'm not lumbered with memory, or tormented with loss—I'm a larger person for all the people I carry.

If only Mark Rife could have borne the weight, I tend to think, but I can only speak for me, albeit with a little knowledge from the other side of the fence.
posted by sonascope at 6:22 AM on September 22, 2011 [29 favorites]


I think the thing that most freaks people out about this situation was pointed out in the Order of the Good Death link above:

Mark’s death was actually incredibly transgressive in its way. It just doesn’t end where we are comfortable with it ending. Popular culture tells us that when you lose your wife and you spend 1000 days traveling the world- learning, loving, experiencing, etc- you always decide you want to live. Renounce death and learn to love once again, save some children, suck the marrow from life. Look at all the life lessons you’ve learned along the way.
The makes Mark Rife a cruel reality, he who dared say, quite publicly, “yup, tried that, still filled with unrelenting ennui and despair, I choose death.”
If Mark had made the choice to continue his life, he could have sold his 1000 day story to a publisher and ended up with an Eat Pray Love style romantic comedy. Simply because that is the narrative that people like to hear.


However you feel about a deadline, a thousand days is a damn long time. That's years. That guy took years to "give life a chance." He tried like hell to do so, or so we hear now. And yeah, this is normally the sort of thing we'd make a book and a movie about had he chosen to live. Someone will probably make a movie along these lines but happier someday. It's just that in his case, it didn't work. That's not supposed to happen in our culture! Everyone keeps going back to the bridge analogy, and I keep thinking of reading Agatha Christie's Towards Zero, which has a character (Andrew MacWhirter) who tried to commit suicide. The nurse tells him that now he's survived, he won't do it again, because... well, they don't try again. And Andrew is basically all "huh, yeah, I guess I'm over that urge now, huh." Our narrative is that nobody tries again. Well, you know, except for that six percent. Affirming LIFE just didn't do it for this guy, and we're all going to have to accept that he tried and it did not work.

And we've also learned: don't post your last life's journey on someone else's blogging platform, I suppose. Buy your own web space and leave it to a trusted friend in your will that will keep it up.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:29 AM on September 22, 2011 [11 favorites]


Tumblr, god damn it. Put it back.
posted by DigDoug at 6:45 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few years is not a long time when it comes to two shocking traumas--first, his wife's life-threatening injury in an accident he witnessed and his participation in her rescue, and then her sudden death.

The idea that people typically get over things like this completely in a few years is extremely poisonous. For that reason, I share your disdain for the "travel, see the world, feel amazing again" style of memoir when applied to something so serious.

But you're applying the same mistaken idea in a different way--the idea that after a set amount of time things will be finished, one way or another. They won't. Life goes on, grief persists, things change slowly and unendingly.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:52 AM on September 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


However you feel about a deadline, a thousand days is a damn long time. That's years. That guy took years to "give life a chance." He tried like hell to do so, or so we hear now.

Slow down. I'll grant you that he tried. He expended maybe a modicum of effort. But look at the images and words on that screenshot. That isn't someone who tried like hell. Jesus Christ, he read (or watched) to Eat Pray Love. That doesn't qualify as trying "like hell".
posted by Pastabagel at 7:10 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


He also tried in a manner that was inherently escapist and non-substainable; he didn't seem to try to return to his life to any degree, he instead went and traveled around the world on his wife's life insurance money (I don't mean that judgmentally, either - I'd probably do much the same)
posted by Riptor at 7:14 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm a fervent advocate of self-hosting your own stuff, paying the $10 for a domain name and spending two hours getting the grasp of WordPress to the point that you can, well, host your own damn blog.

If you don't have a webhost and can't afford one, ask your tech-savvy friends. There's somebody you know with a hosting plan that gives them way more space and bandwidth than they can possibly use, and they'd be more than happy to set you up. Seriously.

Trusting Tumblr, or Facebook, or Google, or any third-party corporation with your work is understandable -- it seems free, and they make it easy and breezy and simple. But the more you move your work out of your hands, the more things like this can happen.

Want a Tumblr blog? Great! But the minute before you post your Tumblr content, CTRL-A, CTRL-C, CTRL-V in the other tab of your personal blog. Just in case. You don't know who is going to own blogger.com tomorrow, or if the whole operation is going to go tits-up.

Don't trust corporations to do the right thing with your work. Back it up. Mirror it. It's not expensive, it's easy, and it's really the only way to ever be sure that your own efforts will remain in your hands, or the hands of people you trust.
posted by Shepherd at 7:18 AM on September 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think suicide should be illegal, and for some people suffering from mind-crushing depression or trauma, on a surface level it seems the only "way out". However, deep down I find suicide quite narcissistic and self-absorbed. Well, this guy just took that to the 1,000th power. Hope he had a nice vacation.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:29 AM on September 22, 2011


I read through and was just going to say exactly what Shepherd said. That circumvents someone else destroying your work/legacy/cry for help/whatever without your wishes being taken into consideration. +1.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:31 AM on September 22, 2011


Friend of mine's sister killed herself. By doing so, she sucked the life out of her parents and out of him.

I used to have a very cavalier attitude to suicide. I wrote in my notebook Epictetus's line about the door always being open if the room gets too smoky for you, and I nodded knowingly. But that's mostly horseshit. Your parents, your family, your closest friends love you too much for that to be the case, no matter what you think about it. Before I knew anyone who'd been touched by it, I would have been in here vehemently defending this guy's "right" to throw a seven; now, I see that it's possibly the worst thing you could ever do to the people who love you.

Perhaps it's a problem with the definition of the word "rational", but for my money suicide never can be a rational choice.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 7:32 AM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


This was me.

Almost five years ago now.

Thank you, MetaFilter community.

Thank you.
posted by jefficator at 7:39 AM on September 22, 2011 [27 favorites]


I'm glad that you're here with us.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:41 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I haven't read all the comments, yet, because tears are streaming down my face.

I am saddened that he took his life. Did he realize that he doubled his family and friends' grief? Now, they are still saddened by the loss of Sarah, plus the added grief of Mark taking his own life.

I do not understand suicide in this manner, I could understand if you are terminally ill, that I can, I do not get why you would wait all that time, realize that the grief is getting better (and he states that) yet, still decide to leave this world.

Possibly, this hits too close to home as I am still dealing with the grief of a friend's impulsive suicide last year, but, this is the saddest thing I have ever watched.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:06 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aren't we all, by natural selection, developed a brain predisposed to clinging to life? And then all these thoughts about the wonder of life is just our rationalization.

I believe we all have responsibility to our and only our own well being. If someone decides that death is preferable, I don't think I should stop him. Because I can't be sure that I will be doing it purely for his benefit. If his suicide clouds my view on life, then it's my responsibility to get over it.

I think it's cruel to "help" someone, by preventing a suicide. The statistic say most of them won't repeat it. But how many of them actually keep suffering, but won't try suicide again simply because our brain obviously has evolved to make it very hard to do. Who are we to take this chance away from them?

Maybe living is the "rational" choice, but why is it presumed to be the most logical?

When it comes to which choice is better, this is hard to decide since all discussions on this are always one sided.
posted by bluishred at 8:09 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


What do you do when you feel there is no hope of your pain ever ending? Live for others. Think how many others feel the same... what could you do for them? And if you can find a way to imagine what could be done for them.... advocate for a world where others would do the same for you. The pain may never end, but the love might make it all worthwhile. We have to carry each other. We have to rage against the dying of the light. We have to take all the unbearable suffering that countless humans(and other beings) have carried throughout life and we have to create something that honors it's depth and is powerful and beautiful and meaningful enough to carry all that suffering.

bluishred- your brain is not functioning well. (By your theory and your thought process) Quite frankly I think this is the line of thinking that happens in cults/spiritual communities where humans are expanding their ideas beyond that which sustains life and beyond the culturally and mentally ingrained desperation to hold on to life above all else.

Health is the the thoughts/behaviors/biology that promote longevity, reproduction, well being and the sustained access to that which meets these needs. Thought processes that delineate into the meaninglessness of life are not healthy and observably if you look at the brains of those who have them you can see biological differences which are associated with health problems.

Those who (biologically) do not cling to life do not have descendants to tell us about their thought processes, and quite frankly their thoughts themselves promote disease (thoughts that are harmful to the well being of humans).

It is ironic that the spritual seeker desperately hopes to rid themselves of this thirst for life such that they may achieve "selflessness"-- when in so seeking you are merely desperately attempting to fulfill a different goal that also orginates from self and is inherantly selfishly motivated. Your self desires to be selfless. You fail every time. If we seek not selflessness but a communal belief that each self (including yours) matters endlessly and is inherantly filled with worth-- then we can move beyond the trapping false dichotomy of this kind of seeking. Then you can look at your self-- filled with its own selfish desires with kindness-- just as you can then do for others. Then again, I'm not normal.
posted by xarnop at 8:25 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is extremely sad. 1000 days isn't a very long time at ALL to deal with grief, especially of a spouse, and especially in such a traumatic, sudden way. I can't watch the video right now (can't be crying at work), but did he actually seek help to get over his grief? Or did he just go and travel the world and ponder it privately? It's amazing how much a qualified professional can help in situations like that. It's been 17 years since my father died suddenly in his sleep (I was only 16 at the time), and I am STILL dealing with it. I had a big long response written out about how much I hate suicide, but I can't bring myself to post it.
posted by antifuse at 8:31 AM on September 22, 2011


WTF, Tumblr? We don't need this man's story, but I sure bet he has lots of friends and family that would like to see it to try to get some sense of it all. If I were an old friend I would surely want to see it.

Also, one of the biggest problems with suicide (and death in general), is that no one talks about it. There still so much religious shame/sin tied up in suicide that everyone just pretends it doesn't happen. Erasing his suicide note isn't right.

Before I knew anyone who'd been touched by it, I would have been in here vehemently defending this guy's "right" to throw a seven; now, I see that it's possibly the worst thing you could ever do to the people who love you.

I've lost friends (too many to count or I'll start crying) to suicide--good friends, great friends, quiet/shy people; loud/brash people. Thing is, they all knew that. You me, they, and anyone else who's stared at that open door know how horrible it would be to our family and friends. That's what stops most of us. Difference is, they did it anyway. Imagine how that must feel.

he didn't seem to try to return to his life to any degree, he instead went and traveled around the world on his wife's life insurance money

That's what I thought too. He'd made up his mind before the 1st day and never changed it.

I looked at every picture, followed every link, google searched many locations (bars, retreats, etc), and listened to every audio and video to the very end (except the Kanye West video, which went on forever).

lol.

Are the only options either living unhappily until something kills you or paying a tax to the pharmaceutical companies to deaden your emotions?

Marijuana. Seriously. Guy sounds like he was depressive all his life, not just depressed because his wife died. Then he lost his faith and his wife and what did he have left ... ?
He was a deep feeler and in our circle, being a feeler meant being unapproved.
No offense to anyone, but his religion failed him.

I am a big proponent of talk therapy but it seems like this guy talked A LOT. I would have prescribed a strong dose of LSD and told him that the human mind is infinitely flexible. Things might not get better, and pain may endure, but things will change. There is always that.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:31 AM on September 22, 2011


After the whole Troy Davis debacle, to wake up to this thread is kind of tough.

.

Life is horribly short, make the best of it that you can.
posted by Sphinx at 8:34 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


xarnop, I'm in a cult now? I also never said I'm trying to achieve selflessness. I'm just saying committing suicide is not automatically selfish. I'm saying there's a line that can be crossed where one person's pain outweigh the pain to others caused by the suicide.

I rather you try to convince me with differing opinions. But it seems to me that you are way too afraid to even discuss it and prefer to spew your favorite altruisms.
posted by bluishred at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2011


Gawkers voyeuristically watching while a complete stranger dies a slow, painful multimedia death seems among the worst uses of the Internet. If Rife has memories and experiences he wants to share meaningfully with friends and family, that's one thing, but Tumblr was right to take it down from public view.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:56 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yep, doing a bunch of drugs while suicidally depressed sure is a good idea all right
posted by Riptor at 8:58 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well said, Blazecock.. this guy is pretty much the definition of douche, especially with that womb broom.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:59 AM on September 22, 2011


It's possible to act n a way that seems entirely rational about one's suicide, and still be mentally ill. Mental illness does not suddenly take away all power of logic. Someone's who's depressed and with suicidal ideation doesn't necessary start acting 'crazy'.

I watched someone take an extremely rational approach to suicide - he planned it for over a year and his death meant his financially struggling family would cash in on over a dozen life insurance policies he signed up for during that time. There was startling clarity in the actions he made leading up to his death. But he was still mentally ill.

Before I knew anyone who'd been touched by it, I would have been in here vehemently defending this guy's "right" to throw a seven; now, I see that it's possibly the worst thing you could ever do to the people who love you.

Amen. It sounds harsh to call someone who committed suicide selfish when they're most likely in a great deal of pain, but their actions ripple through everyone else they know. Suicides don't end grief, they spread it. Ending grief comes from treatment, not death.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 9:06 AM on September 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


What do you do when you feel there is no hope of your pain ever ending? Live for others. Think how many others feel the same... what could you do for them? And if you can find a way to imagine what could be done for them.... advocate for a world where others would do the same for you. The pain may never end, but the love might make it all worthwhile.

Well, the problem with that is, when you're depressed, that's not enough...you have to be able to live for yourself, as well. Otherwise, the message can easily come through as "Well, your life doesn't in fact have any inherent worth, but you're useful to other, better, people, so dying is selfish." You have to give someone with depression more to go on than "Your death hurts other people" because of course they are in the midst of silently feeling, every day, that no one really cares about what hurts them and that they are already less important than other people.

And if you think about it, the whole idea that our worth is in what we can do for others is kind of odd or at least one-sided. Does our existence have less worth if we are never able to do much for other people, for whatever reason?
posted by emjaybee at 9:07 AM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Gawkers voyeuristically watching while a complete stranger dies a slow, painful multimedia death

You're blaming Rife for "gawkers" in much the same manner as one might blame a mugging victim for wearing such an ostentatious watch.

Gawkers (which so far exist only in your imagination; I've seen no accounts of his blog being popular, or famous, or well-read) are by definition people who choose to watch. They're responsible for their own behaviour. Rife isn't. You can tut-tut at them all you like, but the Rife was perfectly within his rights to write, and post, anything he chooses on the Internet. He was obviously comfortable with making his thoughts and feelings public, and I don't like the idea of a private corporation choosing what I can and cannot say in a public forum.

His mistake was trusting Tumblr to respect his work and his words.
posted by Shepherd at 9:16 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


"xarnop, I'm in a cult now?" LO I was more just sharing thoughts that happened in response to your thoughts, but I can see how it came across as me telling you something about yourself.

Mostly I have seen people (totally unrelated to you, sincerely) get lost in this spritual thought realm where death and life become interchangable because either they believe that the afterlife is more meaningful then this life, or they are trying to lose a concept of self so desperately that they lose the meaning of being in a human body.

I've been around a lot of people like this so really was just going from your thought prompt to my experience and should have made that more clear.

Example: Byron Katie recently wrote a letter to someone watching a family mourn a child's death expains that there is no suffering, suffering is not real, and that the world is in fact now a better place because of the child's death.

(?) I think this line of thinking is not helpful, dangerous, and harmful. Personally.

By brain differences I was refering to the studies that have been on people who have taken their own lives vs died of natural causes. There are brain differences found which tells me that either the brain differences lead to the thoughts, the thoughts lead to te brain differences: or that life experiences/toxins/poor environments and adverse experiences lead to both.

"And if you think about it, the whole idea that our worth is in what we can do for others is kind of odd or at least one-sided. Does our existence have less worth if we are never able to do much for other people, for whatever reason?"

Not at all. Our worth isn't what we can do for others. We each inherently have worth, but seeing the worth of yourself and others and being there for them can be a great way to find meaning while enduring suffering. Why doing things for others matter at all if they didn't inherently have worth?

"Ending grief comes from treatment, not death."
I kind of wonder if thinking of prolongued grief as a medical condition that needs to be "treated" inherently complicates the process of public mourning and being honored for the depths of very real feelings.
posted by xarnop at 9:19 AM on September 22, 2011


I gotta admit, i was raised with an explicit disapproval of suicide. Okay, I'll admit it: disdain. I was raised with a "You don't have the right to do that to your loved ones" attitude. "Your life is not that much your own, and to do so is an unappealing combination of selfishness and cowardice." That's close to a full-on quote I heard multiple times growing up.

And I say this knowing full well that someone I know and care about deeply has (and most likely always will have) periodic episodes of hearing the voices say "Or you could just kill yourself".

If nothing else, you purposefully leave a literal mess (both physical & emotional) for others to come clean up. And that's a punk-ass move.

So I guess I'm glad Tumblr took down his stuff. Because I'm finding myself not in a place of considering suicide as a reasonable choice one can make, and it queases me to think some other people might look to Rife for inspiration justification.

If 1,000 days weren't enough to find a way to butch-up and go on in the face of the unending grief over his wife's death... try 1,001. You don't get over it. But you go on, face the pain, endure, and live.

If you can't find anything to live for... look harder. Because you're selling yourself and the World at large short otherwise. And I'm not finding myself in a place of needing to respect that decision.

I've moved beyond a WHOLE LOT of the old-school "FAMILY FIRST" stuff I was raised with. Suicide seems to be not on that list.

.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:30 AM on September 22, 2011


.

I haven't watched the video: don't want to start bawling at work. Already working at holding back tears just from reading the thread.

antifuse, my father died when I was 8 years old, 28 years ago, and I find it still reverberates through my life.

I'm also thinking about my mother, who was 39 when Dad died: not much older than I am now. 1000 days after his death gets to the point where things in our house were just starting to turn around, after Mom went through her own severe depression that included pneumonia on Christmas. In 1986, IIRC, she went back to school, signed up for Weight Watchers, was in therapy; I remember junior high as when Mom started to get back to being herself. Not that we didn't still have LOTS of hard times, but it did actually get better.

She's in her mid-60s now, getting ready for retirement, still living in the house that they bought together, with a full and interesting life. No partner, FWIW. What she said when I was younger was that she didn't want to start dating with three small children, but even after we've been grown she's never gone on more than a couple of dates set up by coworkers/friends. I don't know if it's just that she's incredibly independent or that she still misses Dad.

Life goes on, grief persists, things change slowly and unendingly.

THIS.

I find myself troubled that he gave himself a deadline to "feel better," and then took himself out of his normal life. It seems like a setup for failure.
posted by epersonae at 9:38 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


"We're alive before we're conscious of being alive. Therefore, life precedes identity. Therefore, there's a terrible arrogance in thinking we can just end it."

Someone once put it to me like this, while she was mourning the suicide death of a loved one. It's always stuck with me whenever I hear of physically healthy people taking their own lives. The terminally ill, those in horrible, unremediable physical pain -- that's another issue.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2011


Two friends of mine just lost their 22 year old daughter to suicide last Sunday. So this is not an abstract question for me right now.

Whatever else Z. was feeling-- and there was a previous attempt last year, and cocaine, and an up and down relationship with her boyfriend, and I don't think she aimed the act her parents purposefully-- she has cursed the rest of their lives, as well as the life of her younger sister, who will now have to wake every day in a reality where Z. killed herself. And it goes in ever-spreading circles: her friends, her family's friends, anyone who knew her. Suicide doesn't just kill the sole person; it takes everyone who has ever loved them along.

Suicide blasts the lives of all those in contact with it. I can understand the impulse, but I think people should imagine the trail of pain-- permanent, lifetime pain-- that it leaves behind.
posted by jokeefe at 10:06 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


This, a thousand times:

I wish the money spent on his 1000 days had included some therapy; if I were his friend, I would have found this project incredibly painful to watch, a slow-motion death.
posted by Specklet at 10:19 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's possible to act n a way that seems entirely rational about one's suicide, and still be mentally ill. Mental illness does not suddenly take away all power of logic. Someone's who's depressed and with suicidal ideation doesn't necessary start acting 'crazy'.

Thank you. There seems to be a lot of equating in this thread of 'metal illness' with 'totally bonkers!' combined with the idea that suggesting someone is suffering from mental illness is pejorative. That mental illness is all in your mind, or something. Mental illness is a physical disease that has to do with incorrectly functioning neurotransmitters. Suggesting that someone with suicidal ideation is mentally ill is not talking out of turn or trying to label someone or restrict their freedom of thought any more than seeing someone sneeze and suggesting that they have a cold.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:34 AM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Mental illness is a physical disease that has to do with incorrectly functioning neurotransmitters."

Mmm. I would say that life suffering, poor environmental conditions, isolation, complex life issues, neonatal environment, ancestral history and unbearable pain alter the functioning of neurotransmitters and some people call this process mental illness because it feels like a functional way to label what they are seeing.

The idea that when neurotransmitters function differently they are inherantly "wrongly" responding to the environmental and ancestral cues is not proven.
posted by xarnop at 10:40 AM on September 22, 2011


Gawkers voyeuristically watching while a complete stranger dies a slow, painful multimedia death seems among the worst uses of the Internet. If Rife has memories and experiences he wants to share meaningfully with friends and family, that's one thing, but Tumblr was right to take it down from public view.

I completely disagree. It might be a horrible way for you to utilize the Internet, but the heart of this here creation is its malleability and reach. I can write a novel in a month, I can harvest my virtual crops every 30 minutes, I can discover my 2nd cousin once removed was an astronaut, I can find and order a limited edition printing of a favorite movie poster done in the style of a different movie poster. I can create music with people I've never met, I can rediscover people I thought I'd never meet again. I can tell a story of love, or hate. I can talk to the world, or I can just share it with my mom, or no one. What YOU use the internet for is in no way affected by how Mr. Rife used it. What he worked to accomplish. Tumblr's put its thumb in the eye of a guy who wrote a heartbreaking love letter, his own obituary and a story that some of us think should be shared. And more importantly, he thought it should be shared.
posted by DigDoug at 10:44 AM on September 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


The idea that when neurotransmitters function differently they are inherantly "wrongly" responding to the environmental and ancestral cues is not proven.

That's hardly my point.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on September 22, 2011


Well the statement that mental illness is caused by malfunctioning neurochemistry is what drives the largely medicalized/pharmaceutical driven mental health system, which I think is failing many people. So it seems relevant to me.
posted by xarnop at 10:49 AM on September 22, 2011


Mental illness is an actual thing, is my point. It's not an accusation or a dismissal or an insult.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:55 AM on September 22, 2011


You're blaming Rife for "gawkers" in much the same manner as one might blame a mugging victim for wearing such an ostentatious watch.

I'm not blaming Rife for anything. If someone wants to take his or her own life, that's their business. However, slack-jawed gawking at a stranger's slow death for its own sake is just out and out creepy. Grief is a deep thing and the Tumblr was right not to dehumanize it more by facilitating this kind of anonymous voyeurism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:24 AM on September 22, 2011


Mental illness is "a thing," there's no doubt—but despair is also an emotion as valid as any other, and pretending that all despair and suffering is a symptom of mental illness is not realistic. That's what fuels the pharmapsychology industry.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:52 AM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gawkers voyeuristically watching while a complete stranger dies a slow, painful multimedia death seems among the worst uses of the Internet.

You must have a less vivid imagination than I do. (Also, I don't think the story included video of the actual death, did it? If so, it certainly makes more sense why they took it down.)

Yep, doing a bunch of drugs while suicidally depressed sure is a good idea all right

It's much better than actually killing yourself (imo). As long as you avoid alcohol, you should be OK.

If nothing else, you purposefully leave a literal mess (both physical & emotional) for others to come clean up. And that's a punk-ass move.

Not if you drown in the ocean. Or cremate yourself.

How did he kill himself, anyway? No offense to family or friends, but he seems like a shotgun type. None of the reports mentions it. If it's an accident we get the gory details, but not suicides (unless of course you're famous, then all courtesies are ignored.)

Tumblr's put its thumb in the eye of a guy who wrote a heartbreaking love letter, his own obituary and a story that some of us think should be shared. And more importantly, he thought it should be shared.

It is censorship of the worst kind, because the person censored cannot fight back.

His sermon entitled: "How to Raise the Dead", where he talks about one of his favorite movies, Will Ferrell's "Stranger Than Fiction".

Wow, I really like that movie too, but I hated that sermon with a hatred I generally don't unleash.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:19 PM on September 22, 2011


Why people think travelling is great for overcoming emotional traumas I'll never know. International travelling can be extremely lonely, stressful and alienating experience. Enriching, sure. But sometimes all you can feel during travels is wanting to come home and hug your family, and if there is nobody to go back to, well...
posted by king of his desert island at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


A thousand days is not a long time when you're talking about living with/recovering from major depression — and if somebody's suicidal, that's major depression. If I'd set a 1,000-day clock starting when I first started thinking about how I could kill myself (as opposed to merely wishing I was dead), I'd have been dead years ago.

This is one of those subjects about which I feel quite strongly that if you've never been suicidal yourself, you have no idea what you are talking about when you talk about what it's like, or whether people with suicidal ideation are rational, or any of the rest of it. You do not know and do not understand what it is like.

The reason I know that you don't understand what it's like is that despite having spent years there, when I'm not down at the bottom of the Pit of Despair I don't understand what it's like.

I don't think suicide in response to despair is a rational choice. I don't think it should be thought of or discussed in the same terms as suicide in response to a fatal, progressive illness. I think that if somebody expresses the intention to kill themselves, and not in the sense of contacting the Hemlock Society after getting a terminal diagnosis, it's a mercy and a good deed to prevent them from doing so.

I never got as far as actually making a suicide attempt, and I hope I never do. If I do, I hope very much that somebody will "disrespect my personhood" long enough to keep me from killing myself.
posted by Lexica at 12:38 PM on September 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


kohdi, we don't have his story, but yeah, it seems like he tried running away from his grief instead of facing it and accepting it. It doesn't seem like he made any attempt to establish a sustainable lifestyle.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:38 PM on September 22, 2011


Why people think travelling is great for overcoming emotional traumas I'll never know. International travelling can be extremely lonely, stressful and alienating experience. Enriching, sure. But sometimes all you can feel during travels is wanting to come home and hug your family, and if there is nobody to go back to, well...

This is something I was thinking about as well - I would think that all that travel would just depress him MORE, as he realized "this is beautiful, I wish my wife was here to see it" every time something amazing happened. You don't learn to deal with grief and depression by running away from your normal life.
posted by antifuse at 12:42 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am saddened that he took his life. Did he realize that he doubled his family and friends' grief? Now, they are still saddened by the loss of Sarah, plus the added grief of Mark taking his own life....this is the saddest thing I have ever watched.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:06 AM on September 22

Friend of mine's sister killed herself. By doing so, she sucked the life out of her parents and out of him...
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 10:32 AM on September 22

...Suicide blasts the lives of all those in contact with it. I can understand the impulse, but I think people should imagine the trail of pain-- permanent, lifetime pain-- that it leaves behind.
posted by jokeefe at 1:06 PM on September 22

...It sounds harsh to call someone who committed suicide selfish when they're most likely in a great deal of pain, but their actions ripple through everyone else they know. Suicides don't end grief, they spread it.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:06 PM on September 22


Amen, amen, amen, and amen.

As a rebutal to some of the comments above, I want to share this Reddit post that affected me profoundly:

"....The reason I wrote all of this out today is because I think you need to understand some of the things that happen after you kill yourself. The things that it does to everyone around you. Suicide ruined my life and the lives of my parents. "

Mark Rife may believe he ended his pain by killing himself, but he really, really didn't. He mulitplied his pain, intensified it, deepened it, and then deliberately inflicted it on the people who loved him. He breathed life into his pain, and gave it the means to spread and grow, before taking his own life.

I'm glad Tumblr took his site down. We don't need to respect the suicidal words of a man who deliberately imposed such horrible pain on others. There's no escape for his loved ones, Rife made sure they lived with what he did. The least we can do is make sure his pain doesn't spread.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Suggesting that someone with suicidal ideation is mentally ill is not talking out of turn or trying to label someone or restrict their freedom of thought any more than seeing someone sneeze and suggesting that they have a cold.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of precisely this equivocation going on in this thread. And absolutely, there are some cases (most cases) where mental illness compromises someone's decision-making ability, but just because someone is mentally ill does not mean they are wholly robbed of their identity as an individual agent. For some, it appears that a "rationally suicidal individual" is absolutely possible in the case of terminal physical illness, but never possible in terms of mental illness. Even the slightest hint of depression, combined with suicidal ideation, is enough to deny someone agency. Nevermind whether or not the depression is grounded in trauma, it still qualifies as mental illness, and therefore the person cannot reason. They hold this position while simultaneously insisting mental illness is a form of physical illness (which is itself absolutely true). To me, this is nonsensical. Either the psychic and the physical are equivalent, or they are not - you can't have it both ways. If they are, then there exist cases where psychic pain justifies suicide. I reject the notion that all depression is mental illness, and i also reject the notion that all mental illness compromises reason.

While I agree the vast majority of suicides are preventable and tragic, I do believe some are justified, and I believe the view of suicide as a "selfish" action is the height of hypocrisy. Not only is it selfless, it is the total sacrifice and negation of self, the final decision to terminate one's self-hood. Selfishness exists in those who would demand an ongoing and hollow performance of self from someone they claim to love - as if a temporary extension of their physical existence, no matter how cruel and painful, is inherently superior. As for those who have chosen to leave me, I am just grateful to have known them at all.

Ultimately we don't know Mark, and we don't deserve to judge him. If you are as Christian as he apparently was, you should not try to.
posted by mek at 1:06 PM on September 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


I want to watch his videos at my own pace but I'm worried VIMEO is going to take those down too.

Frickn Tumblr.
posted by surplus at 1:52 PM on September 22, 2011


As for those who have chosen to leave me, I am just grateful to have known them at all.

Yes. I guess unlike many here I have had loved ones commit suicide and yet I am not angry about it (not angry at the dead, but sometimes angry over the circumstances that led to it) nor do I think of them as selfish. I have also been suicidal and continue to struggle desperately with depression. I have to admit that a lot of the bitterness and anger in some of the comments here shook me to my heart and made me cry out, especially the harsh judgements aimed toward a despairing man. Maybe I'm too close to it. Well this is just one of those things I guess. Everyone has their point of view.
posted by Danila at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm struck by how much courage it takes to call someone who decided to kill himself, and then took a few years to make sure, "selfish" and a "douche".

I must be doing the whole compassion thing wrong, because I would never ask anyone to suffer pain and hardship just so a handful of people around him could live more comfortable lives.
posted by danny the boy at 3:28 PM on September 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


So tragic. This poor guy fell in love with grief. He married it, he fetishized it. He got hooked on that 1,000 day conceit and he was unable to shake it. Once he got on that path, it became his purpose. I don't think he could possibly have found a way off that path without some outside help. Such a terrible pity, a wasted life. I feel so badly for his family.

A few years is not enough to get over a deep grief life that and remake a life. Not nearly.

A study in contrasts: how this man handled his unfathomable grief.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:37 PM on September 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


What a good name for all of this. Rife. It is, isn't it?
posted by jabberjaw at 5:25 PM on September 22, 2011


The whole time he was describing how great his 1000 days were, and all the wonderful things he encountered, I couldn't help thinking, "well, yeah... but you still decided to kill yourself".

Everybody has to live their own life and nobody else can do it for them; we can't ever really know what another person is going through, so I can't judge this guy for doing what he did. I do seriously question the wisdom of 'it gets better - but not good enough' as a general rationale for suicide though. I wonder if Rife ever had to counsel suicidal parishioners as a pastor, those who might have lost loved ones themselves, and what his advice might have been to them in that situation.


No matter what you do, you're still going to die. All of living is just prolonging the inevitable. We all don't kill ourselves because of our perverse survival instinct.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:27 PM on September 22, 2011


Yet another reason not to use Tumblr. Christ, what a shitty blogging platform.

Tumblr porn can be a reason to live.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:27 PM on September 22, 2011


I am one of those people who are annoyingly passionate about David Foster Wallace's work. His struggle with depression as chronicled afterwards broke my heart. I wish he was still with us, very much.

But the idea that I could somehow be in a place where I could judge his pain and the validity of the actions he took to end it -- maybe it's because he is one of my most beloved authors, but I respect him too much to ever try to do that.

Of the FPP, his family and friends are hurt by this, of course. But sometimes horrible shit happens (the death of his wife) and has extending consequences. I worry a bit that his public portrayal of his death will encourage others to follow his lead, but there are plenty of examples of suicide as is.

I guess what I'm saying is that throwing barbs at this guy just seems so wrong.
posted by angrycat at 5:58 PM on September 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


The barbs and the anger come from a similar place of grief and loss as many suicides. Hopefully in that context it is easier to take them as expressions of an inner state instead of as a judgment of any one person.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:02 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The barbs and the anger come from a similar place of grief and loss as many suicides.

Yep. I take the over-the-top judgmental stuff aimed at suicides as a sign of fear as well.
posted by mediareport at 6:04 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish the money spent on his 1000 days had included some therapy...

I wish I understood therapy. I tried it earnestly--with several different therapists--and got little from it. Actually, it made me feel worse. Talking about bad stuff just made me relive (and re-feel) bad stuff. The only thing I found that helped was getting lost in work and Zoloft. YMMV.
posted by rain at 6:17 PM on September 22, 2011


I wish I understood therapy. I tried it earnestly--with several different therapists--and got little from it. Actually, it made me feel worse. Talking about bad stuff just made me relive (and re-feel) bad stuff. The only thing I found that helped was getting lost in work and Zoloft. YMMV.

Think about what you want to get out of it. Tell the therapist that. If you don't get it, try harder, try another therapist. Think about what you want to get, again. Maybe revise it. Ask to see your notes from your first session and discuss what you've accomplished and what you haven't. Ask why the therapist thinks you haven't accomplished these things. Ask if there's something you can do differently. Ask if the therapist can think of things he or she can do differently.

Therapy isn't a generic onesie you just put on and it swaddles you and fixes all ( not that you are saying this). But I think people get so much more out of it if they WORK. And i know how hard it is to WORK when you are depressed and having trouble. But you have to do it anyway.
posted by sweetkid at 7:10 PM on September 22, 2011


You know, I generally find if I keep having to re-write something so it doesn't seem as though I'm being deliberately dickish I shouldn't really post.

[crickets]


Tumblr, really? Did you hang a bed-sheet with "I MISS YOU" scrawled on it from a road-sign outside the cemetery too?
posted by fullerine at 2:55 AM on September 23, 2011


I often hear in suicide prevention that simple things like putting a railing over common suicide spots will cause a big decrease in suicides...

Late into this... the introduction of "blister packs" for painkillers (rather than bottles of tablets) had a similar effect.

And, as an aside, not only reduced deaths but also incidents of the most common outcome of suicide by painkillers: non-lethal but severe organ damage.
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:34 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's mostly thanks to Tylenol, which because of its reputation as the harmless children's painkiller, is the go-to for cry-for-help OD attempts (and readily available for the same reasons). Unfortunately it's much more toxic than other over the counter painkillers: a bottle of 50 can easily destroy your liver.
posted by mek at 3:14 PM on September 24, 2011


It is the height of selfishness to declare the dead "selfish", because they hurt your feelings for having chosen death.
posted by Goofyy at 3:13 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I was looking for Mefi posts that deal with suicide, after just hearing of a former friend's death today. It's the second suicide close to me this year (the other was my cousin). Before those two I did nearly lose at least one friend from a suicide attempt, and I too had attempted suicide quite a few times, though spread out.

All these deaths and near-deaths, and the way I'm feeling now and when I was in their position, it all makes me wonder: how the hell did we ever live? My friend and my cousin both went through a lot of pain: mental illnesses coupled with lives that they just could not reconcile despite their best abilities. I'm finding it hard to deal with life a second at a time as the survivor.

Last year I had a devastating relationship breakdown with someone who I was very fond of and dear to, and many days I felt like living the next day was a mathematical impossibility. I kept telling people - well, mostly my partner, who bless his heart was so patient with me the whole time even when I drove him mad - that it felt like a "divide by zero error". It doesn't seem possible to spend another day alive - what would you do? How could you live without bringing on the same type of hurt that is haunting you now? How are you supposed to take on this guilt and anger and depression and anxiety and go to bed and wake up and do anything?

Frankly I'm surprised any of us survived as long as we did. I'm surprised I'm still alive at all. And then one day the pain, the mathematical impossibilities catch up with you - and it doesn't seem like there are any options left, because you've tried so hard and it just doesn't work anyway and besides who gives a shit?

Compassion, empathy, anger, fear, frustration, sadness - deep, deep sadness. Whoever upthread talked about holding people's pain...oh God yes. There are no places for our pain to be held, we're told that it's more important to deal with other people's problems because ours are not important, but how do we hold other people's pain when we too are hurting? When life tells us that - hey, so what if you're mentally broken, you need to work 80 hours a week or you're not productive. Or you're a dole bludger. Or you're being a lazybum so get off that bed and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Or that children are dying in Africa so stop being selfish and volunteer.

Suicide. Selfish and selfless. Attempts to not want to burden others just create more pain. If only there was a real-world version of the Obliviate charm, a way to ensure that other people would have forgotten us, so that we could go in peace and no one's harmed? Sometimes all I want to do is disappear, because to die would cause too much grief and suffering and I already know how bad it is to hurt. But who mourns for one they do not recall, let alone miss?
posted by divabat at 7:47 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


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