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That’s a very thorough suicide note

Yesterday, Martin Manley turned 60, and killed himself. Before he did so, he left a long, indexed web site with answers to any questions people might ask. He made the decision rationally: he despaired at the state of the world, particularly the violence and bloodshed, and decided that he’d just end it while he was still able to do so. (In case you’re wondering, no, he wasn’t an atheist.)

I have to respect his decision — it was his to make. When I look at his reasons, though, I think…he’s right, there is a lot of misery in the world, and it’s not going to end soon, but there’s also a lot of beauty and promise. I guess personally I’d see that as good enough reason to keep living. It wasn’t enough for him.

Comments

  1. carlie says

    My mother also turned 60 yesterday. It’s difficult to think of how nice the day was for her, and how it was not the same for him, how two people who lived through the same world events could have such differing outlooks on it all. Nothing profound, just… musing on it.

  2. says

    Carlie, my husband is the same age as Martin. And your mom.

    I’m really sorry that Martin didn’t feel there was good enough reason to keep living, however, I am glad that he was able to die on his terms. His thoughtfulness towards others shines through, and I wish I could have known him just a little bit while he was alive.

    I’ll be one of those people who scrapes and claws to get one last breath, I like living. Even with all the bad stuff and all the bad people. There’s a whole lot of good stuff and a whole lot of good people, too. I spent much of my younger years courting death, and I regret the waste of time, but not too much, as I don’t have a ton of time these days.

  3. Alverant says

    It was his choice and I respect that even though I disagree with it. To do what he did is to give up. We can make life a little bit better here each day. It may or may not help in the long run, but at least you’d be trying. I think it’s better to try and fail than to not start at all.

  4. says

    Alverant:

    I think it’s better to try and fail than to not start at all.

    Which is relevant only to you. You have no business making that judgment or decision on the part of anyone else.

  5. carlie says

    Alverant – he did not “give up”. I made it several pages in before getting error messages (I assume the site is overloaded with hits). His decision was very carefully considered from many angles. He weighed every bit of the effect this would have on others, and he made his own decision on his own terms.

    Caine – that does bring it closer to home, doesn’t it? Happy belated birthday to Mister, and many more happy ones for you both.

  6. says

    Alverant:

    It was also the choice, at the time, of a certain friend of mine. Should I have let them do it? Should I have let them die? Should I have gone “okay!” when I found them OD’d with a suicide note, and let it happen?

  7. unbound says

    We all experience the same world events, but we all also experience them in very different ways. I do think, for some, that the experiences are harsher or more wearing than to others. In the end, we are all dead, and if that weariness takes some of us sooner than others, who am I complain?

    He contributed to this world, and he decided he had contributed enough, and it was time for an eternal sleep. He did this of his own accord, so no one should begrudge him his choice.

  8. says

    Carlie:

    Caine – that does bring it closer to home, doesn’t it? Happy belated birthday to Mister, and many more happy ones for you both.

    Thank you, Carlie. Yes, it does drive it home. When I went to Martin’s site, my eyes honed in on his birthdate. All I could see was that ’53’, thinking that’s when Mister was born. I really hate getting slapped upside the head with mortality, but all in all, I have it good and we are both still enjoying life.

  9. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    ——-
    WARNING.
    If you’re suicidal, maybe you should avoid this. I’m not exactly sunshine and daisies when it comes to the suicide topic.. I kinda think about the topic often, so…
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Alverant,

    I don’t know whether I should be getting into this, because I fear it will turn into me getting very upset and writing more than I should be saying about my thoughts on suicide.
    Uh

    I realize that my own thoughts on suicide are partly twisted, and I don’t want to appear as if glorifying suicide.

    We can make life a little bit better here each day.

    Don’t you see how these are empty words? Even unrelated to suicide, it’s just meaningless bullshit.

    It may or may not help in the long run, but at least you’d be trying.

    “YOur life might be shit, but at least you’re not a coward.” Oh, what an incentive to keep going.

    I think it’s better to try and fail than to not start at all.

    Wut? He lived for 60 years.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

  10. says

    Beatrice:

    Wut? He lived for 60 years.

    Yes. And I think it’s important to note that:

    For some people, 60 years is not enough.

    For some people, 60 years is plenty.

    For some people, 60 years is way too much.

    This is only one reason it is not okay for anyone to be judgmental about someone choosing to die. You are not living their life. You don’t have the slightest idea of what it is like to be in someone else’s skin. You only know your life. You only know how life is in your skin.

  11. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    For some people, 60 years is not enough.

    For some people, 60 years is plenty.

    For some people, 60 years is way too much.

    Yes.

  12. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    By noting he was 60, I didn’t mean to imply either option (plenty/too much), just that it can hardly be said that he didn’t start at all.

  13. carlie says

    There is now a mirror site up because the main one is overloaded: here.

    Sadly, there was apparently something in the site where he talks about burying his money in a park, so now all of the stories about it are all “treasure hunt omg”. :(

  14. says

    I respect people’s right to live as they wish, and also their right to die as they wish. I’d still oppose suicide most of the time, because at times it is not a person’s real wish to die, but they are acting out of complete despair or shock and might need help for perspective. So I think it is fair for suicidal people to receive help and an outsider’s perspective about their problems before they choose to die. But the last decision is still theirs.

    In the case of this person, it appears that he pondered on it for more than a year and bothered to document all the reasons he could find about it.

    Wut? He lived for 60 years.

    Yes, although many people are still capable of accomplishing new things after that age.

  15. says

    Carlie:

    Sadly, there was apparently something in the site where he talks about burying his money in a park, so now all of the stories about it are all “treasure hunt omg”.

    Y’know, if Martin did write about burying money in the park, I hope he did it with a gleam in his eye and a happy laugh, knowing it wasn’t true at all.

  16. Jackie: The COLOSSAL TOWERING VAGINA! says

    My grandmother is in her 70’s and while she is a bright, active, beautiful and vivacious person that I think makes the world a better place just by being in it, she hurts most of the time. Her body is slowly betraying her, (as they all do) despite years of healthy living. I love her dearly. When she is gone I will miss her terribly. When she is ready to check out, I know she plans to go on her own terms and I support her choice.

  17. says

    Vexorian:

    Yes, although many people are still capable of accomplishing new things after that age.

    I’m pretty sure no one said otherwise. Some of us in this thread are vewwy, vewwy close to 60.

  18. carlie says

    Y’know, if Martin did write about burying money in the park, I hope he did it with a gleam in his eye and a happy laugh, knowing it wasn’t true at all.

    You are 100% correct. Still reading articles – it wasn’t even an actual lie, just that he mentioned that he was not committing suicide out of financial difficulty, said that he had amassed 200k in gold and silver coins, and then simply wrote a set of gps coordinates after that. And his family has confirmed that he distributed all of those coins to people months ago. So yes, it was a little “gotcha” tweak for conspiracy-prone readers.

    More about him from another article:

    Manley worked as a statistician in the Kansas City Star’s sports department until he left in 2012 after seven years. He said he quit, in part because the numerous layoffs took their toll.

    Manley is credited with inventing the NBA’s Efficiency Rating. He was one of the best sports statisticians in the country, and he wrote about sports on his own blog. He also authored several books.

  19. Rob Grigjanis says

    That was one of the most impressive things I’ve read in a while.

    I’m near Manley’s age, and my thoughts, and those of some friends, have on occasion turned in that direction. Not despairingly, but practically. Still,

    One more sunrise
    One more autumn
    One more nest of swallows in the car port
    One more chance for England to win the World Cup

    OK, I’ve given up on the last one.

  20. says

    Carlie:

    You are 100% correct. Still reading articles – it wasn’t even an actual lie, just that he mentioned that he was not committing suicide out of financial difficulty, said that he had amassed 200k in gold and silver coins, and then simply wrote a set of gps coordinates after that. And his family has confirmed that he distributed all of those coins to people months ago. So yes, it was a little “gotcha” tweak for conspiracy-prone readers.

    Ha! I would have liked Martin a great deal. Good for you, Martin.

  21. Alverant says

    @10
    Beatrice, that’s YOUR opinion. I don’t share it. I don’t find those words hollow because they’re true. There’s nothing wrong with finding happiness in the little things. I try to have a positive outlook on life.

  22. Anthony K says

    To do what he did is to give up. We can make life a little bit better here each day. It may or may not help in the long run, but at least you’d be trying. I think it’s better to try and fail than to not start at all.

    Well, get the fuck started then, and know that not a fucking thing will make a fucking difference.

  23. Randomfactor says

    In July 2008 I reached the point voiced by a Heinlein character (Lazarus Long): “When she died, I stopped wanting to live forever.”

  24. Anthony K says

    I try to have a positive outlook on life.

    Well, don’t. It gets in the fucking way of those of us who’d like to grab the world’s population by its lapels and shake it into acknowledging fucking reality. We don’t need your “Don’t worryl be happy” smokescreen.

    Fucking optimists.

  25. says

    I try to have a positive outlook on life.

    I don’t think there is one other thing in all of life that makes me immediately feel intensely dour than the “ooh positive positivity is positively wonderful” dance. Ugh. Fuck that noise. And if you have to, please, don’t spread it around.

  26. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Anthony K,

    I know it’s bad that your comments made me giggle, but there it is. It was an approving giggle-snort, though.

  27. Anthony K says

    I don’t think there is one other thing in all of life that makes me immediately feel intensely dour than the “ooh positive positivity is positively wonderful” dance. Ugh. Fuck that noise. And if you have to, please, don’t spread it around.

    Yeah, seriously.

  28. b. - Order of Lagomorpha says

    Caine, Fleur du mal

    Damn. That would do it for me. That’s the one situation I truly fear as I age.

    Same here. At least I think so. I respect his decision and all, it’s just that there’s so much more to learn about and read about and see, that I don’t think my curiosity would allow me to do it. I deal with chronic pain now and have for twenty-some years (knees). There’s good days and bad days, but the good days are so damn good by comparison that they mostly make up for the bad ones. New discoveries in space, freaking drop-dead (no humor intended) gorgeous cuttlefish, those damnably fascinating water bears…there’s too much I still want to find out about.

    I know I’m not him and his choice wasn’t mine to make. His reasoning reads to me as if he did it solely, or mostly, out of fear: fear of economic collapse, fear of growing old, fear of dying alone, fear of… I’m sorry he felt so paralyzed by it all that the only reaction he could have to it was to end his life. And I’m sorry that his ending was, in the end, the only think he felt he could control.

  29. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Manley is credited with inventing the NBA’s Efficiency Rating.

    From those about to statnerd, Mr. Manley, we salute you.

  30. nightshadequeen says

    Can’t you see that this is death and death is saving me
    I say burn all your bridges while you still have control of the flame

    Evans Blue, “Over”

    That site is quite amazing. I can only hope that when my time comes, I can go out with even half as much eloquence and dignity.

  31. The Mellow Monkey says

    I try to have a positive outlook on life.

    Heh. Know what my personal motto is? “You are going to die.”

    Every life–every precious, happy, positive life–is going to end. There isn’t any way around that. I think there are vast ways that everything can be improved and I firmly believe that there are benefits to fighting for social justice, for the environment, for the treaties, for all the fights I’m involved in. But no matter what progress I and everyone else with me makes, we’re all going to die.

    Some people make the choice to decide when they’re going to die. They have their reasons. Sometimes, it’s just a moment of desperation and it isn’t a decision they would have made otherwise. Sometimes, it’s the best choice they felt they could make. And even if they didn’t make that choice? They’re still going to die.

    Choosing when you die–not if, when–is not giving up. It’s not giving into negativity. It’s a choice about an already inevitable conclusion.

  32. says

    b. – Order of Lagomorpha:

    I deal with chronic pain now

    Yeah, so do I. And I know that if things go really bad, I’m likely to revisit the option of suicide. Right now, I’m loving life too much for it, but I take a lot of comfort in knowing that the option to opt out is there. I’ve had days where the pain was so consuming that death seemed to be a fine option.

  33. butchpansy says

    “You think that their
    dying is the worst
    thing that could happen.

    Then they stay dead.”

    ― Donald Hall
    I think of this often. I know lots of dead people. I am 56 years old.

  34. Eristae says

    This isn’t directed at anyone or anything in particular (not trying to throw stones or judge here), but I’m going to share it for anyone who is feeling suicidal for reasons like the above, because it helps me get through some hard days:

    This very minute someone who wants to live is dying against their will. If you live, you have the power to save them. You can go to work, make money, and donate it to an organization that will provide clean water, medication, food, shelter, or some other necessity. Even if your own life doesn’t seem worth living, there is someone out there who feels differently about their own life but lacks the ability to make their will to live a reality. You can do that for them, but only if you are alive. You can live for their sake of your own sake isn’t enough.

    Note: I am not condemning people who lack the strength to do this. Some people can’t and I respect that.

  35. says

    Eristae, that was a nice message, thanks. I’ll add to it a bit by saying if you aren’t a people person, are just can’t feel motivated by the plight of people, just substitute ‘animal’ in there. Lots of animals need that help, too.

  36. moarscienceplz says

    Well, IMHO he picked a poor time to go. The new season of ‘Elementary’ is just about to start.

  37. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Even I am ready to give my bitter stamp of approval on that one, Eristae. (er.. I’m trying to be funny?)
    Honestly, thank you.

  38. carlie says

    His reasoning reads to me as if he did it solely, or mostly, out of fear: fear of economic collapse, fear of growing old, fear of dying alone, fear of… I’m sorry he felt so paralyzed by it all that the only reaction he could have to it was to end his life.

    Hm, I didn’t read it that way at all. It looked to me more like a dispassionate cost-benefit analysis, although that could have been a cover attitude for what he was really feeling. I feel creepy trying to assess someone else’s motives, though.

  39. truebutnotuseful says

    As discussions of suicide unfold, the probablity that someone will make a comment similar to one of the following approaches one:

    “Fuck ‘em. If they’re too weak to contribute to society, let them die and decrease the surplus population.”

    “Why would anyone kill themselves? Life is a beautiful, wonderful, miraculous adventure!”

    “Why didn’t they go see a psychiatrist? Y’know they have medications for this…”

    “People shouldn’t kill themselves because it hurts their survivors so much. If they knew how it would affect their loved ones, they wouldn’t do it.”

    “People who commit suicide are just cowards who can’t cope with the harsh realities of life.”

    I have yet to find an effective way to explain depression to someone who hasn’t experienced it. This comic does an OK job.

  40. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    carlie,

    I think in this case it’s safe to say that the person who you’re talking about wouldn’t have minded. It’s kinda what he wanted. To be remembered. To be able to explain himself, and here we are discussing those explanations.

  41. Gar Lipow says

    If it was indeed a rational decision, well his choice. However, I’m not a qualified mental health professional and neither are most of those commenting. Can we be sure he was not suffering from depression or other mental disorder? The ability to make rational arguments for suicide and perform a complicated intellectual task that takes a great deal of effort does not, unfortunately, rule out depression,. I’m not saying this was the case, but maybe we should not be so quick to assume this was a rational decision. Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, any more than cancer or a brain tumor is. So when we see an action (suicide) that is frequently associated with mental illness, even though it can be done for rational reasons, we should not treat the idea that it is mental illness on a par with an accusation. To accuse somebody of something, yes we should take the view innocent until proven guility. But if someone performs an action (suicide) that is often associated with mental illness, maybe we should seriously consider the possiblity of mental illness. I suspect a mental health professional could read through the website and give an informed judgement as to whether this was truly a rational choice, or someone suffering from untreated depression. The extensive size combined with the topic suggest that if he were suffering from depression, there would probably be clues to that in the content. Untreated depression is a serious problem worldwide, so it might be worthwhile for a train professional to read through the website and give an opinion as to whether this was an example, or a truly rational choice – like people who use death over a few additional weeks of pain and humiliation in their final illness.

  42. trog69 says

    I seem to be so incompetent that I cannot find the site, even when clicking the link that Mr. Manley provides. All that happens is I get sent back to the post. What am I doing wrong?

    I’m very interested in reading his reasons, because I would dearly love to have the courage to do the same. I’m tired of seeing the hate and viciousness that humanity is becoming, and I really don’t want to see anymore. That gives me 6 years to plan.

  43. says

    Well, this strikes home a little.

    I turn 60 next week. I have a cousin who shot himself when he turned 60.

    Normally, birthdays don’t do much for me one way or another. But this one — well, it’s already been a rough couple of months in the run-up to it. Especially since my dad died last month.

    If you’ve never been over to Eric MacDonald’s Choice in Dying blog, I highly recommend it. One of the best writers on the internet. And deeply concerned with the rights of people to choose their own time to die. Eric’s also an ex-Anglican priest atheist who can just shred an apologist’s argument in nothing flat.

    The bottom line is that it’s about agency. About who controls your body and how you make the most-personal decision possible.

    I’m sure his loved ones will disagree with his decision. I disagree with my cousin’s. But neither decision was anyone’s other than that of the person who made it.

    Personally, I’m planning on going out at age 80 — I plan to be shot by a jealous lover. 60 is just way too soon. Too many things to do. Besides which, I’ve got a LOT of money to spend, and if I die now, my ex-wife will get it (cuz I haven’t fixed my will, yet…doh!).

  44. nightshadequeen says

    Hyperbole and a Half also does a pretty good job of describing depression [part 1, part 2]

    That said….I don’t feel comfortable e-diagosing anyone with anything.

    Can we be sure he was not suffering from depression or other mental disorder? The ability to make rational arguments for suicide and perform a complicated intellectual task that takes a great deal of effort does not, unfortunately, rule out depression,. I’m not saying this was the case, but maybe we should not be so quick to assume this was a rational decision.

  45. says

    There’s nothing wrong with a positive attitude unless it’s in a fucking train wreck with reality. Reality generally trumps all. So, expect absolutely nothing and be pleasantly surprised!

    Happy weekend fellow space travellers.

  46. says

    Gar Lipow:

    I suspect a mental health professional could read through the website and give an informed judgement as to whether this was truly a rational choice, or someone suffering from untreated depression.

    Or, you could just respect that Martin’s agency in this case, that he had his reasons to choose death, as is obvious from the care he took with his website, rather than use his death as a platform.

  47. LicoriceAllsort says

    If this is what he chose for himself of his own free will—and all indications right now seem to point to yes—then I’m glad that everything seemed to go according to his wishes, and I’m glad he’s at peace. Condolences to his family and friends for their loss.

  48. moarscienceplz says

    “The clear awareness of having been born into a losing struggle need not lead one into despair. I do not especially like the idea that one day I shall be tapped on the shoulder and informed, not that the party is over but that it is most assuredly going on—only henceforth in my absence. (It’s the second of those thoughts: the edition of the newspaper that will come out on the day after I have gone, that is the more distressing.) Much more horrible, though, would be the announcement that the party was continuing forever, and that I was forbidden to leave. Whether it was a hellishly bad party or a party that was perfectly heavenly in every respect, the moment that it became eternal and compulsory would be the precise moment that it began to pall.”
    Christopher Hitchens

  49. Eristae says

    Thanks Caine & Beatrice! And yes, there are all kinds of non-human causes if one is so inclined.

    As a side note, I want to say that I’m not a big fan of this “they were mentally ill so the suicide was by default wrong” mentality. As with physical illnesses, not all mental illnesses are fixable. I myself have been suffering from various mental illnesses for over 10 years, and no amount of medical help (including medications) has fixed it. I’m getting ready to go to a world famous medical clinic for more testing. I don’t know if it will help. I may not be curable. There may come a point where I decide I can’t endure my illnesses any longer. If that happens, I will end things, just like any person with a physical illness like cancer might. I feel no guilt or shame over this, only sadness that maybe nothing can be done, that something inside of me may be so sick that a happy life may not be possible. I’m not there yet, but I can’t condemn anyone who is.

  50. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Eristae,

    Best of luck with the testings/treatments!
    I hope you’ll get to be happy.

  51. says

    Hi, my second newbie post —

    Gar Lipow:

    Well, I used to be a mental health professional, until it became an industry.

    Anyway, no matter how eloquent the letter or website, the only way to make such a determination about state of mind would be to know the person. Obviously, Martin Manley spent a lot of time considering supporting arguments for his choice. It’s difficult to know if he spent the same energy on other options. Whether it was what you or I call “rational” is moot, really: It was his choice; he made it and sadly, he chose to leave.

    I could write a lot more on this subject, but suffice it to say that I’d like you all to choose to live well.

  52. says

    Eristae:

    I feel no guilt or shame over this, only sadness that maybe nothing can be done, that something inside of me may be so sick that a happy life may not be possible. I’m not there yet, but I can’t condemn anyone who is.

    Nor should you feel any guilt or shame. If it comes to that, you’ll make the best decision you can. It’s all any of us can do, really. That said, I hope the testing goes well, and tentacles crossed for discovering something which will help. You are a fine person, and I feel privileged to know you, so on the selfish front, I’d quite like it if you were able to be happy and were around for a long time to come.

  53. Maureen Brian says

    Why do we assume that even the thought of suicide, let alone the act, must be evidence of mental illness?

    And, yes, I know all about suicide ideation because of depression, because of being doped up on far too many anti-depessants and also as part of a panic attack when under far too much long-term stress. I’m also over 70 so no patronising attempts to impose your world view on me, thank you.

    So, if everything goes quite brilliantly and I have the very best of luck I have at most 30 years, more likely 20. The end of the road is visible from here and because my brian still works rather better than my legs I sensibly plan for the twists and turns it may take. That is the rational thing to do, surely?

    Of course I’d love to sit here, frail and demanding but totally in command of my faculties, and terrorise another couple of generations! Like Caine, though, I fear dementia. I also fear being so frail that I’m at the mercy at the mercy of some person who will decide what I eat, where I sit and whether I can listen to
    Radio 4 all day.

    So, the decision is mine. It’s called autonomy and I’m not prepared to trade that in for some passing moralist’s Little Book of Aphorisms. Besides, I have no fear of death. I’m a rationalist and an atheist and, besides, I won’t know about it.

    Someone asking me to die in pain or distress over a period of years – to what purpose? – is not a reasonable request. It deserves only one answer – FUCK OFF!

    On this one Hitch was right.

  54. CaitieCat says

    As someone with severe chronic pain, I totally get his decision. If I knew that the pain I’ve lived with for twenty years now was never going to stop, I’m not sure I’d be interested in carrying on to the bitter end. I cling to the prognosis that the pain should moderate some by the time I reach thirty years with the problem I have (this is the usual pattern; thirty years of increasing pain, then a fairly rapid dropoff – with lowered mobility – after the 30yrs). It’s the little light that gives me hope.

    So no, I will never criticize someone else’s choice to end their own life, because I’m not in their life. I can’t judge what pain they have, what pessimism, what loneliness or fear about increasing infirmity or dementia will feel like for them, or anything else. All I can do is hope that they did so clear-eyed and ready.

    My sympathies to Mr. Manley’s family and/or loved and/or loving ones. My respect and understanding to Mr. Manley himself.

  55. Maureen Brian says

    I hope the testing and follow-up go very well, Eristae. I too would miss you but the decision will always be yours.

  56. says

    Maureen:

    Like Caine, though, I fear dementia. I also fear being so frail that I’m at the mercy at the mercy of some person who will decide what I eat, where I sit and whether I can listen to Radio 4 all day.

    Yes, that sort of thing, too. That’s not a life, at least not to me. It should be up to each individual to decide whether or not their personal definition of life is being met at any given time.

    I also weary of the “suicide = mental illness, always” stuff. No, it doesn’t. Is depression or mental illness often a cause of suicide? Yes. Is it always the cause of suicide? No.

    If I do end up taking that option at some point, it would be so great if people didn’t come along and second guess my choice, even in the face of an incredibly thorough explanation left for all those with questions. I find people who question Martin’s choice to be absolutely galling.

  57. says

    CaitieCat:

    If I knew that the pain I’ve lived with for twenty years now was never going to stop, I’m not sure I’d be interested in carrying on to the bitter end.

    I am so feeling you right now. Today is one of those days. My pain levels are so seriously over the top, I’m on enough meds to make me feel like my brain is slurry, but the pain? Oh, the pain is having a good time and it’s unceasing. On the infamous scale of 1 to 10, right around a 30. Right now, I know it will back down, eventually. That gets me through. One day, that might not be enough.

  58. Maureen Brian says

    If I do end up taking that option at some point, it would be so great if people didn’t come along and second guess my choice, even in the face of an incredibly thorough explanation left for all those with questions. I find people who question Martin’s choice to be absolutely galling.

    Caine @ 63

    QFT!

  59. CaitieCat says

    Today is one of those days.

    Caine, m’dear, I grok. I’ve been having one of those days for four days now, which is officially into what I call “painstorm” territory. Sleep comes only with Ambien, and for no more than six hours (the length of time my “12-hour” pain meds remain effective). Thank FUCK that one of my partners happens to be visiting til next Wednesday, or I was gonna get pretty damned hungry being thirty uncrossable feet from my kitchen.

    Clenched-tentacle-bump to you, sister. As they say in the almost-French, il-y-a du grokkage ici.

  60. danarra says

    My mom blew her head off in the basement. It was terribly traumatic for everyone involved. But 30 years later I’ve seen people die in other ways, at home surrounded by loved ones, in the hospital with and without life support, on the freeway – in my experience death is always terribly traumatic for everyone. And over time I’ve come to respect my mother’s choice. Am I still hurt and angry? Oh hell yeah! But it was her life, her pain, and I was not experiencing it the same way she was.

    On the other hand, I will say that I’ve noticed in every case of suicide I’ve been affected by in my personal life I have noticed that the pain doesn’t die with the person. It seems to get transmitted out to people around them, and who gets hit with it doesn’t always make sense. One of the things that’s kept me walking and talking so far is the bone-deep knowledge that I don’t want to leave anyone twisting in the kind of pain my mom left behind. Grief and guilt have followed after the death of every one of my loved ones, but there is some qualitative difference when the loss was voluntary.

    Anyway, I figure sometimes suicide is the right action for a person and most times it isn’t. It’s a case by case thing, and without being inside that person’s head, you can’t make the choice for them. And this guy has my respect because he took such care to explain his situation. Wish I’d gotten to know him while he was breathing. He seemed like a very interesting person.

  61. says

    You know, this is all well and good, but it’s starting to sound like you may think that when I found a friend of mine OD’d, with a suicide note, you think I should have let them die after all. I mean, that’s what all this talk of “mental illness isn’t a good reason to stop them” and “it’s all completely their choice” seems to mean…

    I mean, I wonder why the opinion of the person now, happier and with most of their life ahead, is worth less than that moment of despair when they tried to die. In fact, it makes me wonder why PZ tried to have people check in on that suicidal young man a few days ago, if this is so totally completely their choice, and we shouldn’t do anything about it.

    Where’s the one different than the other? If I’d ran into this particular man as he attempted to kill himself, should I have just let him? How’s it any different?

  62. otrame says

    It is very difficult to tell the difference between reasons for suicide and excuses for suicide. I have a real problem with a too quick “that was his choice”, but I also remember months of pain so severe that pain meds were turning me into a vegetable and muscle spasms woke me literally screaming and scaring the shit out of my grandkids–and truthfully, if I had not known the problem was fixable I am not so sure I would have wanted to keep living.

    BUT as much as I want to grant agency to any human, I also don’t want lives lost unnecessarily to the illness of depression. The line between granting agency and allowing unnecessary death caused by a very treatable disease is occasionally not easy to detect, and certainly not from a distance.

  63. b. - Order of Lagomorpha says

    Claire, Fleur du mal

    Yeah, so do I. And I know that if things go really bad, I’m likely to revisit the option of suicide. Right now, I’m loving life too much for it, but I take a lot of comfort in knowing that the option to opt out is there. I’ve had days where the pain was so consuming that death seemed to be a fine option.

    It bites and you have my sympathy. When all’s said and done, mine’ll just continue to get worse, plateau, get worse again, ad infinitum. I don’t know where the tipping point is or might be, when I just say, “Fuck it”. I was happy when my state passed an assisted suicide bill–it’s such a very personal choice, but, at the same time, I’m too curious and an optimist by nature to think about taking advantage of it yet. Like you, though, it’s a little like a security blanket–“I can, but not today”, you know?

    @ anthonyrosa
    Personally, if I saw someone laying there with a suicide note next to them and they were still alive, I’d do my best to save them. I can’t do anything else–the thought of just walking away is impossible for me. Doubly so because I have no way of knowing if in that last second of consciousness, the person thought, “Oh, shit. This was a mistake.” They can always have a do-over if they want to go, but there’s no do-over from death.

  64. ludicrous says

    He says that as a young man he memorized the bible. To read it is one thing, but to memorize it? Have all that misery stuck in your head? For the rest of 60 years? Don’t try this at home.

  65. adobo says

    At times like these, for me, I try as much as possible to distance my judgmental ego from what is happening. I dont want to view things from the prism of my own experiences. So I just stand back and try to take the moment in. It allows me to react in the most appropriate way I can think of.

    Every circumstance is different. If a friend of mine would do something like this, I guess as a friend I would be expected to haggle with him and dissuade him but at the same time as a friend I could be expected to support him in his decision. I am fortunate enough not to be put in this situation yet because I really would not know what to do! Ahhh life!!

  66. danarra says

    #anthonyrosa – been in your hypothetical. Mom’s suicide was not her first attempt. There were multiple tries. One particular time, my father and I were standing over her unconscious body briefly (and silently) considering if we shouldn’t just let her go this time. We didn’t. I don’t remember which one of us finally called the ambulance. The paramedics came, she went to the hospital, came back with a smile. Didn’t stop her, obviously. But we couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t keep trying. Her choice was her choice. Trying to stop her was ours. I’m not sure to this day if any of us was right.

  67. Rob Grigjanis says

    anthonyrosa @68:

    Where’s the one different than the other?

    I can’t access the site now, but I seem to recall Manley writing that he asked himself every day for 14 months whether he wanted to do this, and answered ‘yes’ resoundingly every day. Is that different enough?

  68. says

    CaitieCat:

    Clenched-tentacle-bump to you, sister. As they say in the almost-French, il-y-a du grokkage ici.

    *fistbump of grokkitude*

    anthonyrosa:

    You know, this is all well and good, but it’s starting to sound like you may think that when I found a friend of mine OD’d, with a suicide note, you think I should have let them die after all. I mean, that’s what all this talk of “mental illness isn’t a good reason to stop them” and “it’s all completely their choice” seems to mean…

    You know, Anthony, this is not about you or your friend. I am glad that everything worked out for you and your friend, and that it was the right thing to do. If I found a friend of mine still alive from a suicide attempt, yes, I’d try to save them, especially if I knew they were in the throes of depression and the odds were good they didn’t really want to die, or if the attempt was made because of trauma (been there, done that)* If I had a friend who I knew was making a thought out choice to die, then that is their decision, and I would give them all my support.

    What you don’t get to do here, Anthony, is use your personal experience as a template and extrapolate that to everyone else. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that I have had experiences with friends and suicide. I expect a whole lot of people do. It is not wrong to point out that it is possible to make a conscious, rational decision to die. It is not wrong to point out that not all suicides are committed by people with a mental illness. It is not wrong to respect a person’s agency, even when the subject is their death. It is up to all of us to manage our own deaths as we see fit.

    *My first suicide attempt was when I was eight years old, due to ongoing abuse. I wasn’t kidding upthread when I said I spent a good number of my younger years courting death.

  69. says

    b. – Order of Lagomorpha:

    Like you, though, it’s a little like a security blanket–”I can, but not today”, you know?

    Yeah, I do know. I’m sure some people find it odd that some of us find that comforting. Maybe it’s an age a/o pain thing.

    Danarra, I am so very sorry for the tremendous pain you have been through. That was an excellent post, thank you.

  70. says

    It is not wrong to point out that not all suicides are committed by people with a mental illness.

    Adding to this – it’s also not wrong to point out that even when a person does have a mental illness, they can make a rational decision to die. See Eristae’s post @ 56. This is an opportunity for all of us to learn, for all us to appreciate life from different points of view.

  71. Seize says

    A day after he passed and all the links are dead. Site ran out of bandwidth when it went viral. Will it come back online next month? I assume he’s got an open account paying the bill.

  72. left0ver1under says

    What surprises me about his suicide announcement is how upbeat his words sound, not morose or despairing. It’s not a tone one associates (stereotypes?) with the concept of people and suicide.

    I have no personal experience with suicide (not knowing anyone who did, nor ever contemplating it myself), so I’m only observing when I say that, I’m not commenting.

  73. nightshadequeen says

    left0ver1under:

    What surprises me about his suicide announcement is how upbeat his words sound, not morose or despairing. It’s not a tone one associates (stereotypes?) with the concept of people and suicide.

    Among other things, this effect sometimes comes into play.

    —-

    Caine:

    Adding to this – it’s also not wrong to point out that even when a person does have a mental illness, they can make a rational decision to die. See Eristae’s post @ 56. This is an opportunity for all of us to learn, for all us to appreciate life from different points of view.

    Thank you.

    ——

    Eristae:

    *hugs*, if wanted, and good luck.

  74. evilDoug says

    ” This very minute someone who wants to live is dying against their will. If you live, you have the power to save them. You can go to work, ma …

    That’s as far as I got reading that one. When I saw the OP title, I wondered which comment would enrage me to the point of dipping my best bailing hook in my personal Clostridium blend and make me want find a throat to rip.

    And when the capacity to muster “the power” is burned out, abused, destroyed and gone, what then? Is that the point where the logical end comes?

    That’s the kind of platitudinous shit I’d expect from the idiot Brayton.

    Don’t bother answering for my benefit. I won’t be back to read them.

  75. unclefrogy says

    he did it he decided to die when he did that is him. I have battled against depression for a long time myself and have utilized help in the past and still do. I do not think any one can cope with life on their own we are not made that way we are social animals.
    The one idea or fact that really helped to change my mind was the realization that no one gets out of here alive (raised christian and went to catholic school) no one lives forever so there is no rush.
    Like I am standing in line for a show and I have my ticket but the line seems long but I wont miss it because it wont start until I get there and it is kind of interesting out here in line. ;-).
    uncle frogy

  76. says

    evilDoug:

    That’s as far as I got reading that one.

    That’s a pity, because if you bothered to read what Eristae wrote, you would have found out you were utterly wrong in your assumptions. It wasn’t platitudinous shit at all, but something that helps Eristae get through the hard days, as someone who knows suicide may be a choice they have to make. In this case, your insensitivity is painting you in a bad light.

  77. dgrasett says

    I read as much of this as I could bear. I am 72. This is the only life I have. If I wish to look on the miserable side, then it is still the only life I have. I too try, each and every day, to make life just a little bit better. I resist unkind remarks, give compliments where warranted, clean up after myself, and try, above all else, try. The world can be made better by our own actions.
    That being said, I have always believed in the right of the individual to decide their own exit, with dignity.
    In 2009, my half brother took his own life. I found out when his wife of less than a year found my telephone number several days later on his mobile telephone. He had purchased a handgun and done it in their apartment. I am a Canadian – handgun ownership is not one of our usual activities.
    In 2010 my husband of 30 years died suddenly of a massive cardiac arrest. In 2011 my mother died, at 95, probably of acute boredom. She had become deaf, suffered from cataracts, and had spent the previous 5 years suffering from the indignities of old age.
    I will still continue to try to make the world just a little bit better, by my own actions. I also still believe in the right of the individual to their own exit, with dignity. I do not, however, believe in any right to leave a mess for someone else to clean up after.
    If you must commit suicide, do think about the mess.

  78. mykroft says

    I know people who have had much harder lives than mine. Cleaning up after suicide bombers in Iraq, really rough schools growing up, batshit crazy relatives, etc. Me, my life has been boring by comparison. Great kids, a wife who loves me and is patient with my many faults, a good job. I have no internal frame of reference for suicide based on bad experiences.

    Except for the times when I feel I’m not good enough. Not smart enough. When my brain takes a vacation when I really need it.

    It’s not an option that I have ever taken seriously. The best phrase I ever heard about suicide was that it was a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But I’m not about to judge anyone who reaches that point. I hope that anyone who is at that point has friends that remind them about the good parts, that give them the emotional support to get them through it, so that they can see more sunrises, enjoy the unexpected surprises, and find that there can be highs after the lows.

    Each of us has one life. No magic kingdom in the sky afterwards, no fiery furnace for those who didn’t believe. This is it. So while it lasts, I’m in it for the duration. But that’s my choice.

  79. dickdave says

    Okay. Three quick anecdotes:

    One – When I was very young (21, maybe?) I called a friend on his 35th (!) birthday to see how he’d be celebrating. He said that he was planning on killing himself. I wasn’t sure if he was serious, but I went over to his place. He admitted that he was serious. He had the necessary pills laid out on the bathroom sink. He felt that with thirty-five years under his belt, he shouldn’t still be a “failure”. I talked him into just waiting for a night to see if he’d change his mind. We went out for beers and spent the evening drinking toasts to famous people who’d died of unnatural causes. Eventually, the whole bar got involved, with other patrons, bar waitstaff, coming up to us with new toast-worthy names. Cheers! *Glugluglug* Ten or so years later, after our lives had drifted apart, I ran into him, and he thanked me.

    Two – A friend (late 40s) committed suicide several years ago. He’d had quite an enjoyable life up to that point, but circumstances beyond his control dictated that his quality of life thereafter would be significantly diminished. Though I didn’t see him much those last couple of years, he was a part of me, and, goddamnit, I miss the fuck out of him! I think of him all the time. But am I, was I ever, angry at him for making that decision? No. Not one bit. It was his decision, and he made that decision rationally.

    Three – My partner’s mother (late 90s, on the other side of the country) has lived with pain for many years. Per my partner, since sometime in her eighties, she has been praying to God (she’s severely Catholic) to “take her home”. Now she’s in a nursing home and dementia has set in. I don’t hear of her prayers for death anymore, but perhaps, it’s because she’s now so rarely coherent that it just doesn’t come up. Frequently, she doesn’t recognize who my partner is when he talks to her on the phone.

    No connection to any of these stories, really, other than death and self-agency.

    While I (50) don’t look forward to dying, I can’t say that I fear it either. If it happens, what’ll I care? I’ll be dead. And I’ve lived a pretty full life. I’m hoping for another couple of decades at least, but if I don’t get them . . .

    I do, however, like to think that if life turned, I could have the option of deciding when and how I’d expire.

  80. Azuma Hazuki says

    Just waiting for the trollish idiots like Beale or Pilty to show up in here cackling about “If he thinks he had it bad before, now he’s screaming in Hell with no chance of escape!” There are, despite appearances, very few things that make me want to commit actual violence in the real world, but damn it all, that would be one of them.

    I spent 2/3 of my life on the verge of suicide, unable to get any help or medical intervention, and willpower’d my way out of it on sheer rage and bloody-mindedness. And that in no way diminishes what this man has been through or why he chose to do what he did. And I’ve never heard any coherent apologetic from the Christers either vis-a-vis what to do when someone is so completely hurt and burned out that death seems the only way out. The Calvinists try, but all they have is “he wasn’t elect and this is how God chose to show the rest of us that he was destined for hellfire.” *spits*

    If only we humans did what we had to in order to make things like this less common. It wouldn’t be hard, it would just take a change of heard on a civilization-scale.

  81. says

    I’m listening to James Taylor in honor of Martin Manley (was his favorite singer) and so am plunged into the sights, sounds, colors of when Sweet Baby James came out and was 24/7 on the record-player at home.

    Thank you to the several folks who posted links to the mirror site.

  82. Gorogh says

    I sympathize with his decision and his way of laying out his reasons. I am yet to understand the ethical reasons – as concern the suicidal person herself/himself – for preventing someone from suicide, rationally considered or not (which is why I wanted to post something in the other thread, but could not find the time to do it). The only reasons I can follow not to commit suicide pertain to those left behind – suicide causes suffering. However – and I am not sure if this is a strawman in these circles, but many people I talked to about suicide framed it like this -, you cannot really argue from the happiness or unhappiness of the dead. To argue from potentialities is analogous to some weird anti-choice argument that abortion robs a baby from potential future happiness.

    I can see how empathy will drive you (and me) to try to prevent someone from suicide. I can see how a suicidal person may consider his or her responsibilites, and decide not to do it. I can see that society (in analogy to a rational agent) “needs” constituents and cannot work if it does not “emphasize” that life has value per se. I know that depression and similar conditions are cyclical in nature, that moods change, and that the sun will eventually rise again (probably, at least).

    Still, for the suicidal person, what matters is the pain and despair right now. If the person dies, it ends. Period. That’s okay. If it were not for a) fear for the pain of death and – especially – b) my family and friends, I should be dead by now*, because I do not like this world, or how I see it.

    What I am trying to say? I’m not exactly sure, but death is peace, so don’t get too excited about it.

    *Of course there will be other reasons, and I cannot really say that I will welcome death, because I’ll only know when I face it. Yet, from this vantage point, I see nothing to be afraid of.

  83. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    this might sound weird, but considering suicide a legitimate option actually makes it easier to keep going sometimes. I know that there’s a way out if things get too much, so that keeps me from despairing.
    Hey, it works for me, evfn if it makes little sense.

  84. says

    @Beatrice
    Makes a lot of sense to me. Things are easier to bear, if you’re in control and know you’ve got a way out.

    I hope you find the happy thought.

  85. Gorogh says

    Doesn’t sound weird to me, either, Beatrice. I know “ah well if everything fails, you can always quit”-thoughts well. Not entirely serious (but not entirely joking either), I wouldn’t mind Futurama-style suicide booths (ideally, complete with organ-harvesting function).

  86. The Mellow Monkey says

    Caine

    Adding to this – it’s also not wrong to point out that even when a person does have a mental illness, they can make a rational decision to die. See Eristae’s post @ 56. This is an opportunity for all of us to learn, for all us to appreciate life from different points of view.

    Thank you for this. My father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which was something he grew up watching his mother (who also had a diagnosis) and his father (who became more of a caretaker than a husband) struggle with. As heartbreaking as I still find his death all these years later, your comment helped me realize that maybe his suicide was a decision for him–maybe the best decision he felt he could make–instead of just some brief, awful moment that led to his death.

    There are many people who live long and fulfilling lives with what might be diagnosed as mental illness (I hope to be one of them!), but some of them can still make the rational choice to not do so.

  87. Holms says

    The sheer amount of preparation that went into his epitaph contradicts the idea that he did it without rational consideration. He took the option to go out with dignity as the best option for his circumstances.

  88. says

    MM:

    As heartbreaking as I still find his death all these years later, your comment helped me realize that maybe his suicide was a decision for him–maybe the best decision he felt he could make–instead of just some brief, awful moment that led to his death.

    *many hugs* I think it’s important to remember that death is not always the worst thing to happen. It’s simply the last thing to happen.

  89. says

    From Slate:

    UPDATE, Saturday, Aug. 17, 11:55 a.m.: On Friday night, Yahoo took down Martin Manley’s website. A spokesperson told me: “After careful review, our team determined that this site violated our Terms of Service and we took it down.”

    Manley’s site lives on, for the time being, on various mirror websites not hosted by Yahoo.

  90. nightshadequeen says

    “After careful review, our team determined that this site violated our Terms of Service and we took it down.”

    Wat.

  91. unclefrogy says

    I wonder how they judged the site to have violated their terms of service, all he did was to articulate a personal analysis of Hamlets question .,
    I wonder if it was the conclusion he reaches that was the main problem?

    uncle frogy

  92. believerskeptic says

    Regarding anthony’s hypothetical, you might actually be legally culpable if you don’t do a little something at least to try to save someone who has tried to commit suicide but is still alive. Even in the face of “it’s their choice” logic, you still have an incentive to save your own legal skin by trying to help the person.

  93. carlie says

    What? I wonder if yahoo will refund the next 5 years’ worth of hosting fees to his family, then.

  94. David Marjanović says

    Hi, Algernon! *bounce* *bounce* *bounce* :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

    We’ve been missing you!!!

    Well, get the fuck started then

    HULK SMASH

    the “ooh positive positivity is positively wonderful” dance

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    So true.

    Why do we assume that even the thought of suicide, let alone the act, must be evidence of mental illness?

    …Because mmmmmost of us aren’t from Japan, but instead from a culture where suicide used to be considered blasphemy?

    See comment 90.

  95. Eristae says

    Thanks to everyone who had some kind words for me. Reading them made me smile. Special thanks to Caine for the compliment (made me all blushy) and the defense against evilDoug (whose post made me a little sad). Can’t type much (using my phone, which DOES NOT like ftb commenting) but I wanted to let you all know I appreciate the support

  96. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    “After careful review, our team determined that this site violated our Terms of Service and we took it down.”

    Well, fuck them.

  97. jste says

    Eristae:

    This very minute someone who wants to live is dying against their will. If you live, you have the power to save them. You can go to work, make money, and donate it to an organization that will provide clean water, medication, food, shelter, or some other necessity. Even if your own life doesn’t seem worth living, there is someone out there who feels differently about their own life but lacks the ability to make their will to live a reality. You can do that for them, but only if you are alive. You can live for their sake of your own sake isn’t enough.

    Mind if I borrow this? It’s everything I have never found the right words for.

  98. RahXephon, Waahmbulance Driver for St. Entitlement's Hospital says

    Ya know, I’ve had depression and anxiety for a long time, as in nearly my whole life. Nearly everyone on my mom’s side of the family does. I’ve had suicidal thoughts more times than I can count whenever I felt I had reached some insurmountable point in my life. I haven’t had access to any mental healthcare either so I’ve been muddling along doing the best I can, talking to friends and making changes in my life.

    That said, remind me never to come here if I’m in that position and need help, if the response is going to be what I’ve heard in this thread. If someone had said to me in the past when I told them that I was so depressed that I wanted to kill myself “hey, that’s your right, sometimes death is better! you’re making rational decisions!” I might be dead. I don’t think this response is helpful. In fact, I think in a lot of cases it’s fucking irresponsible. If you think validating or rationalizing suicide isn’t harmful, I’m still reading this, and now I get to try to get through my day, my week, my however-long trying to forget.

  99. Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^= says

    Like far too many here (I’m so sorry for you), I am battling a long list of increasingly intractable health issues. The fact that I will inevitably die one day is, paradoxically, what is keeping me from ending it right now. Because the thought of this deterioration being eternal is horrifying.

    I was born in November, 1957. Despite numerous attempts to kill me off, by assorted bugs and my own frailties, thanks to modern scientific medicine I’m still here.

    I can no longer do 99% of the stuff I used to love and that kept me entertained. And the stuff I can do has to be done in short bursts with a lot of rest. If it were just me, yes, I would end it now. But I have a loving husband I have to stick around for (I’m missing him terribly; he brought me home in June and then had to go back to Australia to work) and lots of children and grandchildren who seem to want me around, for some reason!

    So, despite having given up so much, it’s not all doom-and-gloom. I try to focus on the positive highlights, rather than the background horrors. I have happy moments. I have the occasional good night’s sleep. I get to witness various milestones in the lives of those around me. I create the occasional piece of craftwork. I have my laptop (and thus access to the wider world) for when I’m too tired to do anything else, but not so totally out of spoons that I’m just sleeping (although the pain meds make my brain so fuzzy that reading everything takes ages, and I rarely comment on anything any more).

    (I sometimes wonder why, when I am basically keeping myself alive (despite chronic pain and increasing disability) for the sake of other people, it isn’t a thing – it is NEVER a thing – that they feel, or are ever accused of being, selfish? But if I were to decide “Feck it. Enough is enough. I’ve had it with prolonging my dying” and stopped taking the small mountain of pills that are keeping me almost functioning, and in not quite unbearable pain, there would be people (probably the same ones) claiming that I made a selfish choice? Sigh.)