Tuesday, December 3, 2013

RANT: Suicide

My Grandmother, Josephine, lived to be 99 years old. In the last month or so of her life she didn't lament never being able to make it to her 100th birthday, she knew she was very ill and likely going to die very soon (this was in 2012.) She was living at my Aunt & Uncle's house in Patchogue, New York, a nurse and a Catholic priest would stop by the house every other day to see that she was comfortable and being taken care of (my Aunt & Uncle aren't bad people, per se, they just have no concept of "bedside manner" or how to take care of a dying person) and my Mom made a special trip from Maine to stay with her for a few weeks. About 10 days after my Mom was back in Maine, my Grandmother passed away in her sleep.

Death comes for us all: Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, Scientologist, and yes, Atheists like me. While I wasn't exactly surprised to learn about my Nan's death due to her slowly failing health, it still hit me like a speeding Mack Truck: A person that I grew up with will no longer be in my life, I will never hear her voice or see her face again outside of old family home movies. Nan left existence as peacefully as she lived her life, and now her remains are in a Catholic cemetery on Long Island. I will never again get to give her a hug or see her smile, she's gone.

I was yanked from a Field Training Exercise to go to her funeral, my husband called me and told me the news: For some fucked up reason I'm always the last person in my family to find out when something bad has happened or when someone dies.

About a month ago I learned that a former squad-mate, US Army SPC Steven M Hays, was found dead inside his vehicle with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. When I first met Steven I was so badly dehydrated that I was pretty much completely delirious, our unit had decided that it would be a BRILLIANT IDEA to drag everyone out to an obstacle course and make everyone run it in the height of September with the Arizona sun blasting it's ultra-violet hatred on everyone: You know, to boost unit cohesion and some good clean "fun." So after ranting, yelling and swearing at my entire Company (and apparently my Commanding Officer as well) I was taken to the ad-hoc Med-Station (Which was basically a Humvee with a tank of water and some stretchers) and then I completely blacked out. It would seem one of the Soldiers I had inadvertently cussed out was Steven: Um, sorry 'bout that. 

The following Duty Day, he came to me and asked me what the fuck I was going on about: I told him a very abbreviated version of my story, he recalled to me some of the crazy shit I apparently screamed at everyone, our friendship was sealed from that point forward. I was never terribly popular in my old Unit to begin with, engaging in an act of consensual sex with another grown adult (a concept that our military has always struggled with) during the deployment in Iraq didn't improve my odds with them either, but unlike the other Soldiers who tried their damnedest to make me into a pariah, Steven at least took the time to say "Hello" to me when he could, in a group of people who could obviously have cared less if I had lived or died, it was a shining relief to see at least one other person who was glad that I was alive.

The difference between an otherwise natural death versus a suicide is that while both tend to be an emotional surprise, news of a suicide just doesn't seem to register in the brain at first. It's like you don't believe it at first, it literally "does not compute"

Our military demonizes people who die by their own hand, our society does this as well but not always to quite the same extent that the armed forces do. Sure, they tell you that they want you to get help if you're feeling like self-medicating with a .45 "Anti-Depressant" and they encourage Service-Members to do so, all the faster they can get the necessary paperwork started to kick your ass out. If life in the military is so awful that you want to DIE, why on Earth would you want to STAY IN? Because for many of them, especially those who have deployed repeatedly to Iraq or Afghanistan, that's all they have left: PTSD has ravaged their minds, military life has destroyed their families (Service-Members are up to four times more likely to get divorced than civilian couples) they're so beaten-into the system that it becomes the only life they know. After they have no more self-will, no more distractions from outside and no more control over their own circumstances, it becomes their life in it's entirety.

After that point, a Service-Member becomes so absorbed into "The Almighty Army" that it literally takes over their life. They are so indoctrinated that they can no longer understand anything else outside of the uniform, this can get to the point of "ordering" a spouse to do push-ups or even trying to pull rank on civilians who don't even live or work on Post. They literally BECOME their job, and when anything threatens them in that state (be it an injury, thoughts of suicide or even an Article 15) they will fight like Hell, scream, shout, even flat out lie, to keep the only thing they have left in their world, their only means of existence. 

The military suicide plague isn't due to a lack of options, it's because of a crippling lack of human decency toward one another.

Choosing to end your own life isn't a cowardly act, but it's nothing particularly ballsy either. Generally most of the people who express that sentiment are those who are upset only because the person they knew is no longer around for THEIR BENEFIT, not because that individual was in a tremendous amount of pain that he/she felt was being ignored or overlooked. There's nothing cowardly about wanting pain to go away, so suicide isn't "the easy way out," if anything it's got to be the most fearful and mind-breaking way to die that I can imagine.

I should know, I've tried it repeatedly.

I guess, to a point, the desire to self-terminate will always be there. When I was younger I was honestly so terrified that I would either go straight to Hell or maybe I'd reincarnate as an animal I didn't like. The last time I gave offing myself any serious effort was in Iraq, I had been stealing my Jesus-Freak roommate's painkillers over the course of a month, along with any & all pills I could get my hands on, and my original intent was to down the entire bottle on or before the day of my Article 15. I made it to about half the bottle before I started vomiting, they never quite made it into my stomach because I could feel my own esophagus squeezing shut: Of course I never told anyone that things had gotten THIS BAD, if I did then they would have just sent me on the next plane to Germany and shoved me into a cotton-box until my discharge papers were done.

I guess at THAT POINT it hit me that not only was the game rigged the entire time, that my squad-mates were NEVER going to grant me the respect that the uniform mandated because I admitted to myself that I'm just a person after-all (and a lowly female, no less) but that if I had actually gone through with my plan it would only be granting them what they wanted the entire time: For me to get myself out of the way before "the Enemy" could do it for them, and I wasn't ready to put my family through all of that. At the time, they had no idea about the kind of relationship my husband and I had, about our "friendships" with other consenting adults, it wasn't so much about me being afraid of the consequences anymore, but instead that I had to live through just long enough to see that they were eventually exposed for their own wrong-doings as well.

Surprised? Don't be. THAT was the big turning point for me, I fed them a line of bullshit about "seeing the wrong of my actions" while in the back of my brain swearing revenge for not dealing with another squad-mate who had assaulted & harassed me to the point of physical illness (I had been blacking out and vomiting so often from stress& sleep deprivation at that point that I honestly thought I might have had cancer, I even went to the clinic and requested a screening: UNFORTUNATELY, I didn't have cancer) and I gave any notion of gods or devils, even any version of an afterlife, the boot: If any all-intelligent being out there purposely allows people to get to the point where they'd rather die horribly than suffer the abuse of their fellow humans, then who in their right might can call this entity "good?"

There was recently a YouTube user going by the handle "MannixThePirate" whom, for the third time, faked killing himself: It's causing quite the outrage.

There is no pain in the world quite like realizing that someone you once knew is now dead, by whatever means. This is an especially troubling process when that person opted to decide things for themselves, but it's hard to put into words the fury that one feels boiling up inside themselves when they discover that someone, for whatever fucked up reason, decided that it would be a BRILLIANT IDEA to play it as a sick practical joke: Fuck you, dude, there are families and lives that are ripped apart because of suicide and you wanted to make a mockery of it? I'm not normally one to say that there are things you just can't joke about, because that would be censorship and I hold very tightly to the idea that censorship is for cunts, but this Mannix character should feel free to go dine on some fine light-bulbs with a tall glass of bleach to wash the shards down: People actually thought you were dead, you sick fuck.

In the end (haha, see what I did there) death really is the only thing that anyone can really take seriously at all, there's never really any going back and no one, despite any and all claims, ACTUALLY KNOWS if anything awaits us on the other side. I can no more demonize the act of suicide than I can cutting of one's own leg, it's your body and your life so I can't tell you what to do with it so long as you don't mean anyone else any harm.

But please, I don't want you to kill yourself. If only because there may be circumstances that you might not have considered until now.

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