Suicide

Lyon Keating

You wake up in the morning.  You feel good.  You want to go outside.  How about a run?  One of my favorite running spots in San Francisco is in the Mission district running up Bernal Heights.  Not only is it an excruciating climb, there is the ultimate reward of seeing mostly a panoramic view of the city when you get to the top.  Yes, sounds like a plan.  My life is getting to be much healthier.  I recently moved back from desolate Guatemala and gotten back together with my girlfriend, and after living in third world countries and in various cheap closet settings my world was recovering from the intense run around and I was more comfortable than I had been in a long while.  I was becoming more relaxed and including more of what I wanted in my life.  It was a time unlike any other but is any time like the time of another?

I was walking down the three stories of my apartment complex to the ground floor.  Wait, I forgot to leave my phone behind.  No sense in carrying a phone on a run.  Back up the stairs, back down.  Already breaking a sweat, perfect.  Out my front door, take a deep breath, ready for a run, step out into the street, decide which music to put on, hear a human death cry, see a man plunge to his death from four stories up and land ten feet in front of me, see him try and get up, see his knees literally break from underneath him, see him hit the ground, see blood spurting out of his head, see people on the street and sidewalk go running off in various directions, standing there, standing there, standing there, what’s happening, my legs feel like his…

I called 911 and went up to the man lying flat as a pancake on the street in front of me.  Everything on him was broken.  His face was bashed in.  His feet were wrapped amazingly around his knees.  It’s amazing what the human body can do when it hits solid cement.  I thought he looked like a gymnast.  A gymnast who fell of the horse beam wrong and who didn’t fulfill his dreams.  Maybe he did fulfill his dreams.  What happens when your dream is to kill yourself?  You wake up everyday with the extreme excitement that one day you can possibly end it all or really your perception of ending it all.  You go to school in your early life to get a Phd in suicide.  If all those things were the case then this day was the happiest day of this man’s life who now was laying dead in front of me.  Good for him.  It’s so morbid.  Why am I thinking this?  What should I be thinking about?  I’ve never seen a dead body before.  Is this real?  I could have missed this whole thing if I had come down the first time when I forgot I had my phone.  Did I really come outside for a run and have this guy jump off the building I live in and almost land on me?  He could have killed me.  Maybe he would have lived if I had broken his fall.  Then this day would not be the happiest day in the man’s life.  Blood was still trickling towards me on the sidewalk.  How long would that blood be there?  Three years later I still see it and avoid walking over that side of the street.  I dream about it from time to time.  At random points during random days I still see the guys face when he tried to get up.  His pure adrenaline and his last ounce of life before the drugs wore off.  I hear sirens.  I am the only witness.  This man gave me a memory that I’ll think about and analyze forever.  His last parting gift to a cerebral being.

The whole situation was extremely fucked.  The man lived on the first floor of my apartment complex.  I did not know him but had seen him around.  He slit his wrists in his apartment and then decided to walk up the stairs to jump off the roof.  There was blood in our whole apartment complex stairwell.  I did not want to see that blood or even little traces of it ever again walking up or down my steps so I cleaned it up with a brush and water.  Seemed rather appropriate since I was the only one to witness the man’s death.  He laid the responsibility on me to officially remove him from this earth.  To have my brush carry the last bits of his remains in it for all of time.  I still have the brush.  I can’t pull myself to throw it away ever.  I still have the apartment.  I feel connected to these things that were apart of the suicide.  It was an intimate experience and I’ll never throw my brush away or leave my apartment by choice.  I would give up so much else before I would volunteer this brush to the garbage can.  Seems a little sick.  It is sick but whatever, who doesn’t do sick things.  It means something to me and at least I can say that.  I got called to go to the coroner’s office to identify the man as I was the sole witness.  How could I identify a man that I didn’t know?  What did he look like without being crushed by cement?  How about you take my brush for DNA samples, but wait you might throw it away and that would make me sad.  I’m sad about the man’s suicide but I am happy that he got to do what he wanted with his life and I was the only one to see the end result.  I am proud of the man.

The week or two after the suicide I had nightly dreams of the event.  It was always the man’s face trying to get back up and then him falling and blood rushing out all over me as I stood there letting it touch me.  The blood wasn’t gross.  It was just the liquid of another human and I wanted to touch it, even swim in it.  I wanted the man to bleed a pool’s worth of blood so I could do a cannonball into it.  Why do I want to do a cannonball into blood?  After all, blood is mostly just water and probably no different than swimming in a murky river.  Whoever gets the opportunity to swim in a blood river?  This man could do this for me in my dreams.  I could even clean myself with it.  How refreshing and intimate it would be to be cleaned by someone’s blood.  The suicide was an emotional event and it had a cleansing affect on me.  It changed my thought process.  The dream still comes around now and then.

What are we to make of suicide in our culture?  It was a traumatic event for me yet I was glad to take on the trauma even though it took me a long time to think and react to it positively.  Suicide is commonly looked upon as the end of it all and only done by depressed people who have nowhere else to go and they lose all hope.  Why not end it all and see what lies around the corner?  I was without depression for the first infinite number of years that I didn’t exist, why not go back to that?  For the living, it is sad because we have to go on without a person we knew and loved.  We enjoyed their presence so much that we have a hard time living without it.  We are selfish beings and want that person’s energy back in our lives.  No one ever is glad that someone committed suicide.  “Phew, thank god such and such killed himself.”  No that would be morbid but would it really be that morbid?  Suicide is a mysterious jump into the unknown.  A last ditch effort to perform an action to improve a situation.  Maybe it will all be better if I just wasn’t here and whatever is on the other side must be better than what’s going on here.  People move on, forget, let go of their selfishness to have that person back.  There energy is gone but maybe that’s a good thing and maybe it’s somewhere else doing something better.

Are people that commit suicide philosophically more advanced than the rest of us?  They might be nervous about the unknown but they plunge right in.  When it’s all said and done the person won’t know the difference anyway but at least they were able to release their energy.  You make the decision to do this to yourself.  No one else decides it for you.  What guts it must take.  What curiosity must be running wild to actually perform the feat.  Where did they go?  Only they know or maybe they don’t know, but maybe they know that they don’t know or it doesn’t matter wherever they are, while we will never know.  It took a lot of thinking to justify this whole event to myself.  Maybe it wasn’t meant to be justified but I needed to think something to move on.  I am selfish like that.  I don’t think anymore that suicide is a depression induced only act.  I admire suicide.  I admire that it is a choice and rooted in self expression.  The man who committed suicide was an admirable man.

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