Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Jumper

Tonight, someone committed suicide off the bridge across the street from my house. As I stood there watching the chorus of flashing lights and cops rowing back and forth in their canoes under the bridge searching for the body of some poor, unfortunate soul... it did cross my mind, that perhaps blogging about this could come off as inappropriate and shameless, but then I realized that this event was by far the most memorable of the day and to deny that would be to dishonor the life of the one that took the plunge. So I'd like to take a moment to consider this john/jane doe's predicament and bid them farewell.

Just a few hours before I caught word of the jump, I was fluttering around in my seat while watching the latest episode of the AMC series The Walking Dead. For me, the appeal of the show is its lingering examination why the living desire to continue on doing so, even when unthinkable things happen, for instance like when everyone you know is getting devoured by flesh-eating zombies. At this point in the series, about half of the principle characters have toiled over suicide. But with the exception of a few throw away characters at the beginning of the series none of the survivors have been able to part with their mortality, even in the face of imminent, rotting, blood-pouring doom.

Some might say, 'that's just television,' but I think there really is some truth to the show's depiction of the all too cliche' 'survival instinct.' An instinct is, according to Dictionary.com, a 'natural intuitive power,' Merriam-Webster calls it 'a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason,' which makes me extremely curious about the kinds of things that are strong enough to override such a persistent behavioral phenomenon?

Are there cords getting crossed in the brain? A severe malfunction channeling the energy usually dedicated to your instinctual survival methods instead toward the complete opposite? And even more intriguing to me is what it must feel like to have completely lost hope? I have enough trouble getting out of bed in the morning, I don't need any help from a nagging feeling of inadequacy and regret.

At the risk of sounding sinister, I'm dying to know what someone's last thoughts are that fuel that total release. I'm also baffled by it. It seems so contradictory to be too cowardly to live, but brave enough to pull the (figurative) trigger (yes, I do think that takes guts, I couldn't do it). Once you've crossed that line of conquering your survival instinct, does planning the strategy of your elaborate demise start to have some appeal that continuing to live doesn't? Is not planning a death worthy of yourself something that gets you excited about continuing on with your life? If you examine the fundamental elements of the process, it kind of reminds of the ironic death of Amy Winehouse, who is alleged to have died from symptoms of withdrawal after choosing to turn her life around. It's the one thing left to get excited about, but it's also the thing that's going to kill you. The fact that you could get excited about anything, including the planning of your suicide, should provide some sort of gratification for living right? Of course, that's only my perspective on reasonable behavior, what's yours?

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