Thursday, August 19, 2010

Suicide is Painless....

"Suicide is Painless" song by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman, opening song to M.A.S.H.

Dear Readers, I have not written in over a month. I have been on stay-cation with my family for the summer. It's been lovely! My kids started school yesterday.

My last post was called The Kitchen. I'm picking up with an entry written on the same day as the last diary entry. It's important because it talks about 15 year-old Jennifer's thoughts of suicide. No one in Jennifer's family knew she entertained these thoughts. Her friends didn't know either. I write this blog, in part, to try and help people see into the mind of a teenager. I hope that maybe one kid, one family, is someday helped by this!

The previous post talked about a family argument which occurred over kitchen chores. Jennifer and Joel got in trouble for not doing a good job. Joel brushed the whole incident off. Jennifer was reduced to hours of tears and thoughts of suicide. She's overwhelmed by the pressures she puts on herself. She believes she's a good kid doing the best she can. She is devastated that her parents are disappointed and expect more out of her. After she finished her entry, she picked up her diary and wrote some more. Here it is...

September 15, 1985

Dear Ophelia,
"At times like these, I want to commit suicide. But a few things are stopping me. One--Cocoa, I can't stand the thought of leaving her forever. I mean, I think of her as having feelings like mine. If she died now, it could end in my own death. As long as she is alive, I can't kill myself. Two--If I kill myself, I may have to live this life over again. Three--I feel I've come too far, done too much, for my life to end.

I'm walking on a tightrope and I'm very unsteady. I never know what might set me off and make me kill myself. It used to be on my mind a lot. And after Muffin died, I even tried to do it. I know that I am capable of killing myself. But I don't always know what will make me want to do it. It wouldn't be hard to find a reason. If my whole family were killed, I'd probably drop out of school and walk around the country earning enough to buy me food. Eventually, I would die though. 

If Cocoa died, I might just kill myself instantly. I don't believe in God anymore but once mom told me that people who kill themselves go to hell. That stays in my head and I don't think I'll go to hell but my next life might not be so hot because of it, or somehow I will be punished. 

I think I'm a fragile person, easily pushed over the edge. That's why I have a light at the end of my tunnel--becoming a cetologist (person who studies cetaceans i.e dolphins) or something. I'm easily depressed but I can also talk myself out of just about anything, out of any depression. I just start thinking, Well someone has to be like me, someone has to live this life. Out of all the trillions of people and animals, I am Jennifer. Amazing. I also think I only have to do this life and be me for one lifetime, which isn't very long. Then, hopefully, I can move on. I find solace in the fact that I will die someday. 

It helps me live knowing that I'll die. Hey, that's a good quote. 

Anyway, I'm a little more cheered up now. I hope after this life, I can be born a dolphin. I don't know if I ever want to be human again. It's hard to write all my feelings in here. I think I may start carrying a notebook around so I can write down all my little speculations. Gotta go, it's 10:25. Love forever, Jennifer."

I never heard a better argument for getting my teen a pet--Jennifer's love for her cat, Cocoa, was keeping her alive!

Jennifer writes that she tried to kill herself after her dog, Muffin, died. She doesn't remember what she did or how she tried to kill herself at that time. Anyway, maybe getting a pet isn't such a great idea....

What I notice about Jennifer is that she has no anchor. She's easily buffeted about by the wind in her life. She doesn't believe in God anymore. She harbors multiple and conflicting beliefs about what happens after death. She thinks she might reincarnate, or go to hell, or have to re-live her same life over again, or be punished or maybe just move on from earth forever. She also believes that suicide will affect her afterlife in a negative way. Many religions and philosophies promote that fear (which is a good thing in Jennifer's case!).

We all have to believe something about death. What we believe can greatly affect our lives and actions here on earth. I believe, and I will dare to state, that what we believe about death is the most important thing in our lives! Think for a moment about what you believe. Now, work back from there. How does that one belief affect your behavior, your religion, your dreams, your goals, your family planning, your estate planning, your view of man's laws and your morality? And how do all of those things affect your life?

All beliefs about death come from either religion, philosophy or you make up your own best guesses. The religion, philosophy or idea that you subscribe to when it comes to death--also shapes your life--this is your anchor. Maybe you have no belief about death at all, you stick with the mystery of it--I still think it shapes your life. When you don't believe anything, then ALL options become a possibility--this makes for some tricky decision making in life. This is the boat in which Jennifer finds herself.

Jennifer made up her own ideas and mixed-matched ideas from religion and philosophy. She was an unorganized Religion of One. She had no anchor. I think this makes life harder for us humans. I believe that we are all seekers. We seek a higher power--whether it's nature, technology, community, God, gods, money, spirits or whatever! I think we like to know there is a higher purpose than just a solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short existence (Thomas Hobbes).

I know children who have no idea what happens when you die. Some people will say that nobody really knows what happens--but that's not my point. I'm saying that what we believe really matters!! In this one area, Jennifer was never educated. Children are seekers too. I think it's important not to neglect the spiritual or religious education of our children (and it can't hurt to throw in a pet for good measure!). If a child is taught nothing, then they are open to believe anything--this is not necessarily a good thing in this crazy world.

The end of the road? What do you believe?

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