It’s been awhile since I broke in with my personal life. Six weeks, in fact, unless you count the Executed Today entries I cross-post.
I would like to announce I am feeling about as well as I ever get. Smooth sailing this past month or so, and for once I’m not dreading Christmas. I’ve gotten gifts from several people already and it’s fun. This weekend I’ll be at Mom’s house helping her with a project, so no updates till Monday.
A bit of emotion-dump, I’ve got nowhere else to put it really: last night, news of the death of Ned Vizzini hit me like a punch in the gut. Who Ned was isn’t terribly important. He was a writer, a relatively famous one. He was a bit of a prodigy, getting published while still in high school. I read one of his novels, which was based on his struggle with depression, and it was a very good story. Well, Ned’s struggle with depression is over. On the 19th he jumped off the roof of his parents’ house in New York, leaving behind a wife and young son. He was 32 years old.
Although I didn’t know Ned, I wept when I heard about this and felt a sense of horror. I called and texted my friends for moral support. My back seized up and I perfumed the air with BioFreeze.
It’s not just the fact that Ned was a very good writer struck down in the prime of life, and his death is a significant loss to the literary community. It’s not the horrific manner he chose for his exit — I mean, his own parents’ house for crying out loud. It’s just that what happened to him could have easily happened to me, or could happen in the future. I won’t rehash it all again, but there’s always that risk.
Any suicide, especially that of a public figure, sends shock waves that can’t all be anticipated. Ned’s family has been ripped to shreds. His child will grow up without a father. His wife is left without his support. His parents will probably have to move out of their house — I certainly couldn’t stay there if I were them. To say nothing of his friends, and the people who knew him, and the people who didn’t know him.
But it bothers me when people’s only reaction to another’s suicide is to comment on how selfish it was, what a jerk, a jackass, probably not having a fun time in the afterlife, etc. When a person dies of, say, cancer, or cystic fibrosis, or any number of slow, wasting illnesses, many people say “he fought so hard.” Well, I can guarantee you Ned fought hard too. A lot of people seem to think that a person just wakes up one morning and, out of the blue, decides to kill themselves. More often it’s a long, dark fall, with the black thoughts swirling around in their heads for months or years before they act on them. I don’t know Ned’s circumstances, but I do know that he had been hospitalized before for suicidal ideation, and I know that sometimes even the best treatment is not enough. Which is why I hesitate to condemn anyone who takes their own life.
I have heard people say, “Once I was depressed and considered suicide, but then I thought of my family and what it would do to them and realized how stupid and selfish it would be, so I got over it.” Well, that’s all well and good for you. Congratulations. But not everyone can do that. Saying “I beat depression, why can’t Ned?” or “I beat suicidal feelings, why can’t Ned?” to me sounds like saying “I beat cancer, why can’t Ned?”
Quite a lot of people will be asking, “Why couldn’t Ned?” for a long time to come.
While I sit here and muddle along, trying, doing what I can to make the world a little better than it was before.
Enough of this madness.