Last week I received the unfortunate news that an acquaintance of mine took his own life. This individual was the poster child for West Hollywood in looks, conquests, and social notoriety. Why then does an affluent homosexual male decide to exit this world leaving only a goodbye note on facebook?
All of the people closest to him had been told of his intentions and warned not to intervene. His death wasn’t so much a surprise as it was jarring. As I looked back on his life from my time with him, I never saw him truly happy. There were lovers, libations and lesiure, but the long term companionship that I share with my husband was notably absent from his life. Friends may fill voids, but no friend will ever compare to my husband’s companionship.
The world my friend lived in is one that condones vanity and emulates physical perfection. The desire to be accepted tragically drives many in the gay community to suicide; acceptance from family, acceptance from society, and acceptance from friends. The acceptance one seeks varies among individuals, but for me, the most dangerous acceptance comes from becoming something you’re not. I’ll never be the 5’8″ adonis with platinum blonde locks, but being happy with who I am means I’ll never try to become someone else. My parent’s taught me to accept myself firstly (snails, warts & all) and anyone else who wishes to become part of my life experience should accept me too (snails warts & all).
Life has up, life has downs, and the most important facet of life is how we face challenges. The challenge of solitude, the challenge of companionship, and the challenge of loss are universal across cultures but only some cultures empart the coping mechanisms required to successfully navigate the adventures of life to the very end. Suicide is a religious and social faux pa in many countries because it negatively affects those you leave behind. Sudden change is hard enough for animals to cope with, and here we are mulling about our lives, my life, when the harsh reality of our mortality falls metaphorically in our laps.
I’ve been asked if there was anything that could have been done to prevent his suicide, but the heartbreaking truth is that much like an addict who chooses to relapse, those wishing to end life’s journey will ultimately find a way. I’m not trying to be emotionless, but have yet to shed a tear for my friend. I’m not trying to solve suicide as a social issue, but I want anyone considering ending their journey to reevaluate what is driving you off the edge. As queer as it may seem, the TV show Buffy, dealt with suicide through the power of song:
“Life’s not a song, life isn’t bliss,
Life is just this, its living.
You’ll get along, the pain that you feel,
Only can heal, by living.
You have to go on living, so one of us is living.
The hardest thing to do in this world, is to live in it.”