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Don't push me cos I'm close to the edge
March 4, 2005 3:42 PM   Subscribe

This metafilter thread about the Golden Bridge suicide documentary stayed in my mind for weeks after I read it. It was haunting. Yesterday the Langara Journalism review from Vancouver published a very interesting article about responsible coverage of suicide in the media, notably after a mediatic chaos ensuing the suicidal attempts of two persons wanting to jump off one of Vancouver's bridges last fall. An excellent read for anyone tired of sensationalist horror stories, the consequences they can trigger, and the lack of taste they are treated with.
posted by Sijeka (17 comments total)

 
A couple of years ago, a very gifted, very beautiful, very wise, very close friend of mine told his father that he was stepping out for a moment, drove to the Golden Gate Bridge, and jumped off. Sure, he had issues. The fact that he had been the creator of a cool, much publicized website a couple of years before that, and was currently working as a barista in a cafe because he couldn't find any creative work, was one issue. He was also totally freaked out by 9/11.

I remember how eerie it seemed all that week when there was no mention of it in the newspaper.
posted by digaman at 4:54 PM on March 4, 2005


what website was that, digaman?
posted by wibbler at 4:57 PM on March 4, 2005


I'd rather not say, to respect the family privacy and all that. But not a day goes by when I don't hurt about his death. Not a day goes by that I don't think he was a coward, and selfish, for dying that way. Deeply cool people are not so easy to find that they can wipe themselves off the map without leaving a terrible empty space behind them. I hope his spirit -- if there are spirits -- came to a kind of peace that eluded him in the months before he died. But I'm still angry at him. If he had been terminally ill, that would have been a different matter. But for a brilliant 34-year-old to off himself that way....
posted by digaman at 5:05 PM on March 4, 2005


A few year's back we had a pretty public suicide in Portland...
posted by iamck at 6:54 PM on March 4, 2005


If he had a mental illness that had not been diagnosed, then in a sense he was terminally ill. It seems like there was something deeper at play than just lack of a good job and being freaked out by 9/11. But of course there is no way to tell now. I am truly sorry that it happened.

I am angered when people say that those who kill themselves were "cowards" or "selfish". When suicidal, I was not thinking rationally, which should be obvious. If I was able to think rationally, perhaps I would have thought about the consequences of my death, or about my family and loved ones. As it was, I was irrational, and in so much emotional pain that I could think of nothing else besides ending that pain. If I did think of my family, my thoughts were so skewed that I felt my family would be happy to have the burden of myself lifted from them. Suicide isn't a rational act. You cannot apply rational thinking to it.

In any case, I am glad to see this article. Thanks for the link.
posted by veronitron at 6:56 PM on March 4, 2005


Excellent points, veronitron. I'm glad you're still with us.
posted by digaman at 7:10 PM on March 4, 2005


veronitron: I am angered when people say that those who kill themselves were "cowards" or "selfish".

I couldn't agree with that more.

digaman: But not a day goes by when I don't hurt about his death. Not a day goes by that I don't think he was a coward, and selfish, for dying that way.

I understand your pain and anger. But imagine the level of his pain to have ended his life over it.
posted by Bort at 7:29 PM on March 4, 2005


"Suicide isn't a rational act. You cannot apply rational thinking to it."

Oh sure it is, and of course you can. Besides the issue of a drawn-out terminal illness, there are other perfectly reasonable reasons. Say you're a wounded soldier who can't get away and you know the enemy tortures prisoners, or you're a scrawny little pot-smoker sentenced to a 20-year prison term: you think it's rational to choose to be tortured or repeatedly gang-raped? Under some circumstances suicide becomes not only rational but commendable.

As for your everyday garden-variety kind of suicide, that's actually pretty rare -- even among depressives.
Most of us depressed Americans just whine and get prescriptions.

As to whether it's rational for anybody, again, a lot depends on the circumstances: if he really IS a useless stupid loser who aggravated that by getting hooked on heroin he couldn't afford, then what rational option does he have? Most people who are strong enough to quit cold turkey are smart enough to not become junkies in the first place, and if you know anything about heroin and junkies you know how stupid it is to mess with it, so right off you know that that comparatively rare individual who still becomes a junky is no great loss to the Universe. So the rational thing might well be for him to spare himself, and those around him, more weak stupid junky shit.
posted by davy at 7:40 PM on March 4, 2005


It's not exactly a rare thing. Studies have shown that 25 to 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder (manic depression) attempt suicide. With about 5% of Americans having this disorder, and up to 25% of Americans experiencing a mental illness at some point in their lives, I would not say it's a rare thing at all.

The events you describe are different from someone who is feeling disturbed, jumping off a bridge. I'm sure you prefer to think of suicide in ways that enable you to rationalize it, however. Also your troll about it being ok for stupid people to kill themselves is laughable.

*laughs*
posted by veronitron at 7:48 PM on March 4, 2005


As a comparison, in 2002 in the US suicides out-numbered homicides 30,622 to 20,308. From the same link, 1.1% of ALL deaths are suicides. 1 out of 100 is not exactly rare.
posted by Bort at 8:04 PM on March 4, 2005


"Suicide isn't a rational act."

Is living a rational act?
posted by semmi at 8:32 PM on March 4, 2005


Davy:if he really IS a useless stupid loser who aggravated that by getting hooked on heroin he couldn't afford, then what rational option does he have? ...

I agree that suicide can be a rational act. But the idea of a suffering junky who is dumb and weak, yet strong enough and smart enough to make a courageous and reasoned decision to commit suicide is hard to swallow.
posted by crack at 11:46 PM on March 4, 2005


so right off you know that that comparatively rare individual who still becomes a junky is no great loss to the Universe.

right off i know that you are an unfortunately common dumbass.
posted by quonsar at 9:23 AM on March 5, 2005


Although I don't necessarily agree with the viewpoint, I think it's very reasonable to say that suicide is irrational. Life is about possibility: we ultimately choose to live because of the capacity for good things to happen to us. No matter how bad things get, there is always that possibility, something which suicide destroys. One might say that to choose that destruction of possibility is inherently irrational.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:24 AM on March 5, 2005


When I was suicidal (and I have been several times, two attempts) I thought I'd be doing those around me a huge favour. I still, to some extent, think that's true. However, I know intellectually that is irrational thinking. That's why I'm taking antidepressants.

The emotional pain that you are in when contemplating suicide is indescribable. Until you've been there, please don't judge.
posted by deborah at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2005


Pretty_Generic: One might say that to choose that destruction of possibility is inherently irrational.

To base one's actions on possibilities alone (that is, to the exclusion of considerations of probability) would be highly irrational.
posted by crack at 9:19 PM on March 5, 2005


I would like to second veronitron and deborah. The days that I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward and the months afterwards were terrifying. Digaman, I hope you may forgive your friend some day. I believe that he didn't mean to hurt you.


Thanks, Sijeka, for posting this article.
posted by halonine at 12:45 AM on March 6, 2005


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