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My Suicide

My Suicide

For some, suicide is a sudden act.  For others, it is a long-considered decision based on cumulative despair or dire circumstances.  And for many, it is both: a brash moment of action taken during a span of settled and suicidal hopelessness.”  Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide,” by Kay Redfield Jamison. 

A few weeks ago some friends invited me to watch a movie at the San Francisco Film Festival.  These are good friends that I don’t get to see very often, so I took them up on their offer.  I went even though the title of the movie, “My Suicide,” sounded like a rather unappealing way to spend a couple of hours on a Friday night.  But it had a good cast and friends of said friends had been involved in the making of the movie.  

Having recently been troubled with (drug induced) suicidal thoughts myself, I was both curious and reticent as I approached the box office.  The day had been cold and rainy, so when I sat down next to my friends in the balcony of the Kabuki Theater I was already damp and gloomy.  But I have to say that the movie engaged me right away, and even though the subject matter was depressing, the film wasn’t.  Perhaps it’s that “misery loves company” thing?  Perhaps it’s that seeing other people’s pain puts our own in perspective? 

The overall premise of the film is that a high school student enrolled in a film/video class has decided that for his major project (60% of his grade) he intends to commit suicide on camera.  Part homage to cult films (Matrix, Deer Hunter,) part MTV video, part Infomercial spoof, part animated comic novel, the movie was (is) interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking.  Even more so now, several weeks later with news of the death (assumed by some to be suicide) of actor David Carradine, who played a small, but important role in the film. 

I can’t speculate on why Mr. Carradine chose to take his own life, if it does in fact turn out to be suicide.  But I can speculate on suicide in general.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have, where you are or where you’re going, life sometimes just doesn’t seem worth living.   For those of us who suffer with mood disorders, every day we have to choose NOT to kill ourselves.  For others, it’s situational: the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a major illness.  It really doesn’t seem to take much.  One seemingly insignificant (in the grand scheme of things) incident can push you over the edge. 

For some reason it seems that creative people (David Foster Wallace, Spalding Gray, John Kennedy Toole, Freddie Prinze, Margaux Hemmingway) are particularly at risk.  

It occurs to me that the downside to burning brightly is the risk of burning out. 

My condolences go out to Mr. Carradine’s family and friends.  I hope they take some small comfort in the role that he played in “My Suicide.”  It’s an important film and I encourage everyone to see it, especially if someone you know and love is at risk.  It’s important for anyone who may be suicidal to see it as it might give them a new perspective.  For all the others, it’s a powerful and accurate look into a state of mind you might not otherwise get to see or comprehend.

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