I suppose my insensitivity is a defense mechanism. I use logic to keep my emotions in check. If I have a loved one who is suicidal, my logical side wonders which is more selfish, for him to put me through the pain of losing him this way, or for me to want him to stay alive in so much pain. It’s a sadomasochistic situation, no matter which way you look at it. Someone will be hurt. Plain and simple.
So my logic says, don’t take things personally. Let him go if he wants to go. Let him make his own choice. Doris Portwood’s book, Common Sense Suicide: The Final Right, argues that senior citizens should have the right to choose their own death without the risk of stigmatizing themselves. After all, they have lived a full life and they’re old enough to make these decisions for themselves. And why does it have to be a “sin”?
Early in the book, she talks about the history of our current attitudes toward suicide, in somewhat ironical terms. Isn’t this silly, then?
“In England in the 1860s, a man who had cut his throat was arrested for the crime and condemned to die by hanging. A doctor pointed out that such a procedure would open the slit throat, admit air – and foil the noose. But the hanging went on regardless, with the authorities determined to do their duty toward the sinning would-be suicide. His throat did open, as predicted, but he was bandaged and patched up sufficiently to keep life within him just long enough for it to be snuffed out by the prescribed punishment.”
Of course, the mistake I make again and again is in thinking that logic has anything whatsoever to do with it.