Way back in 1983, Rodney Dangerfield put out a rap single, kinda sorta, and promoted it with a TV special called "I Can't Take It No More." It sounded rather a lot like this:

The line that struck me was "I called Suicide Prevention, they put me on hold." At the time, it did not seem possible that this could actually happen. And in this sad year of 2018, with actual celebrities taking their own lives, that little one-liner of Rodney's has become the very definition of Not Funny.

I, of course, demur. It's not like I think suicide is uproariously funny or anything like that; it is, however, a fact that I have always viewed the human condition, or my subset of it at least, as esentially farcical, and that the end of my life, when it arrives in the near future, will demonstrate that the joke was on me all along. Albert Camus' seemingly flippant question "Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?" fits neatly into this worldview: after all, our cultural arbiters spend an inordinate amount of time telling us how we are killing ourselves, what with our insistence on drinking this or eating that. To them, it signifies the importance of their ever-varying "recommendations": to me, it says "You're gonna die anyway, quit worrying about it."

As always when the population is seized with a single idea, there will be someone who tries to ruin it for everyone. In this age of Enhanced Suicide Awareness, we have this guy:

Um, no. I do think there's a special place in hell or purgatory for people who think themselves clever, even iconoclastic, for coming up with this stuff, and some day Twitter's Jack Dorsey will be running it, but that's another matter. In the first place, we know who gets to make these final judgment calls, and it ain't us. But more to the point, the man who puts an end to his own life hath sinned long before that last act, by giving into despair — and long before that, by being a descendant of Adam and Eve, the first mortal sinners. Ultimately, we are none of us worthy: we have all fallen, though some go out of their way to remind us of their unworthiness. I'm looking at you, Dave. But be assured, I'm also looking at me. And if there's a special place in hell for those poor folks to took their own lives, it's probably Dante's hell: suicides go to Ring 2 of the seventh circle.

I speak for no one else, of course, but I find scant comfort in the glib statement that suicide is "a permanent solution to a temporary problem." For one thing, few of my problems are temporary: while there exist so-called "miracle cures," that's not the way to bet, and the frustrations of everyday life on the downward spiral do nothing to enhance my social acceptability. ("I yam what I yam." — Popeye the Sailor) Every day, ending it all is, if not a high priority, certainly on the agenda. If some day I snap, well, I told you so. And if somehow I don't, well, I told yoi that too.

The Vent

  9 June 2018

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