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Quiet Desperation

Some conversations really are a matter of life and death


I don't know from Hannah Baker.

I just now read about "13 Reasons Why," and why there has been a huge spike in searches for "suicide."

The series was a success, and even though Baker ended her life, she is returning for the sequel. I no longer underestimate the profit motive in some of us.

Am I qualified to make informed remarks about suicide? Absolutely not, but it has crossed my mind: I think it should, just like a lot of other challenging subjects we all contemplate in life.

But I know that there is a World Suicide Prevention Day, a National Suicide Prevention Week, and a Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. I don't get it.

It seems to me that it should be year-around. But we do like to compartmentalize some things, like Mother's Day. Mother's damn day is three hundred and sixty-five.

The possible causes of suicide I will leave to scholars, but I know depression is one of them. Things (people) constantly depress me, but I do not have chronic depression.

I know people who do, and when it takes over, the outcome can be tragic.

What makes life worth living? And what makes life worth dying?

Again, I am underqualified. But if I were a teenager right now, and knew what was going on here and in the world, I might need all the help I could find. And all of the help that could find me.

The country has never been more divided, and it gets more so all the time.

An 11-day White House communications director said things, on record, that were so vile they had to be bleeped when they were reported.

Almost daily, some segment of the population is undermined or denunciated. For example, the LGBT community.

Maybe Baker was jilted. Overweight? Not pretty enough? How we are treated and mistreated by others when we are young can mean everything.

Actor George Sanders left three suicides notes, but only one of them gets quoted.

"Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck."

In the film "Wonder Boys," Toby Maguire's character recites all of Hollywood's suicides, including Sanders', by cause, in alphabetical order.

Suicides have been featured in films for as long as there have been films. One, "The Children's Hour," was very controversial for its time (1961), because it focuses on two women who run a girls' school who are accused of being lovers. One of the women commits suicide.

In 2015, California became the fifth state to allow physician-assisted suicide. I had a friend who often asked me to take her to Oregon. Oregon was the first to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.

None of the five makes provisions for disconnected youth. It's a good thing. Aren't we all disconnected at one time or another, especially in high school?

My own circumstances - single, older, retired male - are ripe for checking out, too. I have no plans.

Many of us find comfort in faith, and then read about some faiths being targeted by graffiti, desecrations and violence.

What would I say to my son or daughter about suicide? Perhaps nothing. I would listen first.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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