To we the living — those of us who rejoice and suffer, work and play, ruminate and act, love and hate, laugh and cry — willfully bringing about a premature end to this absurdly wonderful experience of being alive seems unfathomable. Anyone who would commit suicide, whether because of despair, political conviction, or religious brainwashing, we understand to be more than a little crazy.
All of us at one time or another and with different degrees of intensity feel the downward tug of depression, of the blues. Our malaise, however, eventually ends. Light replaces darkness. And we go on.
But for some unlucky souls, it seems, life remains a permanent eclipse. They feel a constant and inconsolable pain, an unspeakable sadness and hopelessness that those of us immune from such suffering can’t fathom. Just as the suicidal man can’t feel the joys and pleasures that we the living cherish, we healthy folks (with our normal ups and downs) can’t feel the interminable agony that the suicidal must constantly endure. The most useful question to ask about people who have voluntarily ended their own life isn’t “what could I have done to stop her?” or “what event caused this descent into madness?” but, instead, “what must it be like to believe you will never be delivered from a quotidian hell?”
We who love this incomprehensibly astonishing world will be either resigned or furious to have to say goodbye to it. Until that terrible day, we’ll continue to be happy and sad, content or not. And we’ll understand in varying moments of clarity that we’ve been fortuitously placed in a little slice of mortal heaven. Those who don’t feel likewise, those who can’t wait to leave, must surely be tortured by demons we who aren’t so afflicted can never comprehend.
When those who don’t want or cannot receive help decide they’ve had enough, we must accept their decision, no matter how inscrutable it seems. We must say farewell to those who want only oblivion, and we must continue to revel in our earthly blessings.