It’s often hard to confront the idea of death head-on. We spend so much of our lives dancing around the idea, trying to put it in euphemistic terms or pretend that it won’t happen altogether. And then there are times like this, when we are confronted so fully with the reality of no longer wanting to live that we are forced to ask ourselves what we would do in a similar position — what we very well might do. This is the account of an intelligent, lucid man who knew perfectly well what he was doing and did it with the intent of leaving a minimum amount of pain or confusion. To read his rationale is scary not just because it is so clear, but because it is in many ways so relatable. His fears of old age, of dementia, of irrelevancy — they are the kind of fears that live within all of us, and can make us feel closer to death than physical pain itself. (ED. NOTE: Website seems to be taken down? Here’s a cached version.)
From the “Why Suicide” section:
The apt analogy is that I’ve run the race. I already got to the finish line. I didn’t croak on the way. I didn’t get embarrassed. I didn’t break a leg. I sprinted most of the time and sometimes I slowed to a walk to catch my breath. But, I could see the finish line and I liked it!! The last thing on Earth I was going to do when I got there was… keep going. I completed the race because I went over every hurdle that was in my way. Sometimes I fell. But, I got back up and ran that much harder. Perhaps your finish line is a little farther off in the distance than mine. I don’t know. I only know I reached mine and when I got there the only thing I wanted to do was rest. And, so I shall.
I began seeing the problems that come with aging some time ago. I was sick of leaving the garage door open overnight. I was sick of forgetting to zip up when I put on my pants. I was sick of forgetting the names of my best friends. I was sick of going downstairs and having no idea why. I was sick of watching a movie, going to my account on IMDB to type up a review and realizing I’ve already seen it and, worse, already written a review! I was sick of having to dig through the trash to find an envelope that was sent to me so I could remember my own address – especially since I lived in the same place for the last nine years!
One of these days, I would have been in choir at church and the rest of them would have started singing the song we had been practicing for three weeks while I would probably would have started singing the Star Spangled Banner. And even worse… I would probably have gone all Christina Aguilera on it.
Someday, I would fall down the stairs or slip in the bathtub or get caught walking in a never-ending circle or driving to the store only to end up in Maine. And, nobody would know the difference – at least for awhile.
I didn’t want to put super glue in my eyes thinking it was eye drops because I suffer from dementia. I didn’t want to exist being unable to type on a keyboard because of Parkinson’s or drive a car or recognize the people I love. I didn’t want to be beaten to death by an intruder or eaten alive by maggots. If you thought I was going to drift through this type of embarrassment and indignity, you were out of your mind even more than me!
And, here’s the clincher… it’s only going to get worse!
I didn’t want to die alone. I didn’t want to die of old age. I didn’t want to die after years of unproductivity. I didn’t want to die having my chin and my butt wiped by someone who might forget which cloth they used for which. I didn’t want to die of a stroke or cancer or heart attack or Alzheimer’s. I decided I was gettin’ out while the gettin’ was good and while I could still produce this website! I’ve been to the penthouse. It may only be a 10-story building, but I refuse to ride the elevator down to the basement! Nope, I’m going out on top. The rest of you can go out whenever you want.
Though this is not the first time something like this has been written, it is nevertheless a fascinating, important look at humanity, life, and death. It is the story of a man who confronted the realities that many of us avoid every day, and who made his own decision — for better or for worse.