Last night I discovered a girl named Chrissy who killed herself after several years of paralysis caused by a swimming pool accident.
I learned about her in a forum on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website. I came upon the website a few months ago, and struggled with the mystery of why some people want to go on living and some do not.
Chrissy was a beautiful girl who had recently fallen in love and was looking forward to everything. The story of her accident and its aftermath is horrifying but it happened and I had to read it. Horrible things happen but few things can be this horrible. Still, Chrissy endured for several years. In the end, she simply didn’t want to continue a life under the circumstances dictated by her condition.
On her blog, she explained:
A big part of me died back on June 5, 2005 and my life was never the same. Everything has felt empty, and bittersweet. Every memory tainted with sadness, over everything that I’ve lost, everything I miss doing, and everything I had planned to do, and hoped to be.
I understand. Max left me a message saying something similar, even though his disabilities weren’t as extreme as Chrissy’s. For him, they were intolerable. Going back to her blog just now, I couldn’t help but cry. What a brave girl she was. I salute her honesty and her incredible, heroic struggle.
Tonight, I learned about a photographer and writer, Edouard Levé, who shot himself a few days after completing a novel called Suicide. The novel is fiction but obviously reflects Levé’s preoccupation with suicide. Perhaps he he planned his death as an artistic statement. Or perhaps he lingered too long on the subject of death, turning it over in his mind until it seemed like the only rational conclusion to his obsessive and inward-looking existence. He was only 42 but seemed to have focused closely on life’s absurdity. Here is what the narrator of Suicide says:
“You didn’t like the selfishness of your suicide. But, on balance, death’s reprieve won out over the painful agitation of life.”
It bothers me that Levé threw his life away even though he wasn’t paralyzed. It bothers me that I can’t understand why some people are resilient and some aren’t. It bothers me that you can’t leave this world without smashing everyone around you. It bothers me that no one has the power to decide which suicide is justified. It bothers me that I don’t know where Chrissy is, meaning I don’t know where Max is. It bothers me that I can’t forgive Levé for hanging himself because I can’t find the compassion for his obscure suffering.
It bothers me that I have to keep pondering death like a difficult math problem that might yield an answer if I stick with it. It beckons to me and repels me and it continues to break my broken heart.