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October 13, 2019

Suicide Is Painless?

Oh, this is really cute. Go read the Wiki entry for the song (better known as the theme from M*A*S*H)

From Wiki:

Mike Altman was 14 years old when he wrote the song’s lyrics. The song was written specifically for Ken Prymus, the actor playing Private Seidman, who sang it during the faux-suicide of Walter "Painless Pole" Waldowski (John Schuck) in the film's "Last Supper" scene.[1][2] Director Robert Altman had two stipulations about the song for Mandel: it had to be called "Suicide Is Painless" and it had to be the "stupidest song ever written".[3] Altman attempted to write the lyrics himself, but upon finding it too difficult for his 45-year-old brain to write "stupid enough,"[4] he gave the task to his 14-year-old-son Michael, who wrote the lyrics in five minutes.

I believe that like I believe that Jesus Christ and Elvis and Marilyn Monroe are running a bed and breakfast in Walla Walla Washington, one that specializes in saving your soul after marinating it in rock and roll and fucking it's brains out (that's unfair to Marilyn, a tortured soul who might very well be the object of this post if she were alive today, but instead she became a cultural icon so she is what she is in the popular mind). Some kid wrote a very poignant song in 5 minutes, because his father wanted something "stupid". Sure.

Suicide has touched my life again, prompting this post. Fifteen years ago, my cousin C took his own life. He was 17. He was infatuated with some piece of ass and when she rejected him, in a fit of emotion he grabbed a gun (and to give my uncle credit, he had recognized the signs and gotten all of the guns in the house away, what C used was a display piece that everyone thought was just a replica. Unfortunately not) and ruined so many lives.

I was a relative newcomer to that side of my family. (I'm adopted, this is my birth mom's family). I was in my mid 30s at the time. I had just met mom a few years earlier, and she called me with this. I know for a fact that she had latched on to C as a substitute for me, the son she had given up (which she had to do, given circumstances. Please understand that there is no anger, resentment, hate or fury over being adopted on my part. She did the hardest thing a woman can do, and she did it for me, and as a result I had a wonderful childhood and life. She loved me enough to give me that. Anger? Awe is more like it).

C was gone. C had been my uncle E's son, and now he was gone. He had been my aunt B's son, my cousin K's brother, and my mother's substitute son, and now he was gone. I was dropped into this emotional maelstrom when my mom called me and told me what had happened and asked me to come. I went. What else could I do? It was family.

I watched E hand craft an absolutely beautiful box for C's ashes. He was maybe 2 days without sleep at this point, but his movements as he was cutting the wood were exact. I saw my cousin K create a devastatingly emotional memorial to her brother. I saw mom B holding the whole family together by her sheer force of will.

I saw all of these incredible people, doing incredible things, while their hearts were breaking, all because of the actions of one stupid, grandstanding, moron, idiot jackass.

Yes, jackass. I mean, I love the kid, but as great as he was, he wasn't worth the pain he put everyone else through.

Which brings me around to my wife's aunt B. Aunt B saw fit to hang herself yesterday. It wasn't a surprise, she'd tried with pills before, but everyone had mobilized to try and save her. She was out at a peaceful farm in the countryside, but as it turns out, all that gave her was a barn with a cross beam that wouldn't break.

So now that side of the family is roiled. Nevermind that they'll never be the same, everyone is arranging flights, planning trips and putting their own lives on hold. For what? Just to bury a woman who felt that now that her grand kids were grown she had no purpose. The sad thing is that the reaction of the family proves her wrong. How sad that she never saw that before. How utterly tragic is it that suicidal depression so often fools people into believing that they are doing a favor for the very people that they are hurting the most. THAT is the evil of suicide. You want to cross that bridge? Fine. It's your life, you can throw it away. I'd counsel you against it, but whatever. The thing is, you don't live in a void. All of those people that you think will be better off without you? Yeah, you just destroyed them. For the rest of their lives they will bear the indelible stain of your decision on their hearts. Fifteen years later, for a cousin I honestly hardly knew, it still breaks my heart. You're not letting them off the hook, you're shoving the hook through the center of their chest and hanging them from it. Forever. Please don't.

This has been the most self-involved post I've ever made. Sorry. But it is what it is, and what I really want to do is to give out the number of the national lifeline: 800-273-8255

If any of you out there feel like you're at the end of your rope, and you have nowhere to go but out, please, please, please, I beg you, make the call. Call a fellow member of the Horde. Send an email. I know that I'm not alone in saying that I'll hop on a flight anytime if someone truly needs me. Most of us will. You may wind up doing it anyway. Fine. But please give the rest of us the opportunity to tell you how much we love you before you do, OK? Please let us show you what you're worth.

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posted by WeirdDave at 12:11 PM

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