Friday night, something snapped: "I am just so done with this life," she tweeted. "I've had it, I can't continue to live in constant pain. Goodbye."

It wasn't my place to do an intervention, but how could I not? "Please don't do that," I sent back. "Life may suck, but the alternative might be worse." The idea that I might come up with something like that, while my own life sucks and the alternative is still on the table, is somehow mind-boggling.

Jenny Boylan, who knew her personally, tried to talk her out of it; when no response was forthcoming, Boylan called 911. It didn't occur to me at the time that the two of them were two, maybe three, states apart; when it did, I decided that it didn't matter.

An hour or so later, Boylan reported that they'd found her alive.

Given my warped sensibilities, it was inevitable that I should reimagine this story with myself at the center. How would I notify the world? This, at least, I already knew; I would just simply reword the tweet I expected to be my last during a particulary heinous tornado outbreak a couple of years ago. Who's going to know, right?

Next question: Would there be an intervention for me? God knows I've made enough noises about dying, especially in recent weeks when it seemed like the only way out. I dismissed this question as being ultimately irrelevant.

Shortly thereafter, I came upon this story:

An international collaboration of research scientists in Australia, the United States and Sweden has identified a molecule in the blood that holds the key to identifying the cause of suicide.

"We have known for a long time that people who attempt suicide have markers of chronic inflammation in their blood and spinal fluid. Commonly used antidepressants have only limited effect because they target serotonin — the branch of tryptophan associated with happiness — rather than quinolinic acid which is the other branch of tryptophan associated with inflammation," said Professor of Neuroscience Gilles Guillemin from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

So it is, after all, just a chemical imbalance, and not the work of busy little demons. (Although who's to say that busy little demons aren't at work with their chemistry sets?) I suggest, though, that you'll never convince the poor soul who's given up on life that there's a simple solution, or indeed any solution at all. I know I wouldn't believe it.

The Vent

  9 August 2016

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