Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Source of All My Nightmares

Is suicide difficult? Since there is a prohibition, in our society, on the drugs that provide the only reliable, painless method for suicide, suicide is, in practice, very difficult. Suicides are left with a choice among unsatisfactory methods - to say the least. The suicide must shoot himself in the head, cut his arteries, hang himself, or worse, if he genuinely wishes to die. Failure to appreciate the difficulty of suicide has led many otherwise intelligent people to think that there is no need for "assisted suicide" (provision of drugs). The reality is that suicide is unfairly difficult, the methods available unfairly cruel.

But it gets worse. The terrifying reality is that, even if one shoots oneself in the head or hangs oneself, it is no guarantee of death. Advance directives refusing care after one's suicide are not respected. Plenty of people attempt suicide by one of these methods and survive, with consequences in some cases more horrible than continuing to live would have been. Lying in a state of akinetic mutism while doctors perform medical experiments on one is no one's desire, and is not an acceptable "consequence" to inflict on a suicide.

A poignantly brief article in the Baltimore Sun, "Woman wounded in apparent suicide try," crystallizes the horror of the above dilemma:
A woman was found shot in the head in West Baltimore yesterday afternoon in an apparent suicide attempt, said police spokeswoman Nicole Monroe. The woman was found at Edgemont and Parkwood avenues about 12:51 p.m., Monroe said. The woman, whose name was not released, survived the shooting, Monroe said last night, but her condition was unavailable. [Emphasis mine.]

5 comments:

  1. They never mention the type of gun. Or the trajectory of the projectile/shot. I've always wondered if a blast to the heart might be a surer ticket, even if it's scarier. Regardless, a short-barrel low-gauge shotgun might be the best bet.

    Volume two of John Minnery's "How to Kill" series includes a chapter on improvisational suicide by firearm that advises:

    "...the best method is placing the muzzle in your mouth. This serves to center the muzzle on the juncture of the medulla oblongata and the spinal column, and the damage caused by a bullet to either would be fatal."

    Of course, as old-school Judas Priest fans know, the best laid plans often go...

    (Google Image for: "James Vance.")

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They never mention the type of gun. Or the trajectory of the projectile/shot. I've always wondered if a blast to the heart might be a surer ticket, even if it's scarier.

      George Eastman of Eastman-Kodak fame did this, after leaving a famously brief suicide note that read, "My work is done. Why wait?"

      Anyhow, if I owned a pistol, I would shoot myself in my heart instead of my head, insofar as my heart is the source of my problems or, if not the source, the receptacle of the feelings regarding them.

      Plus, if I did survive, grievous physical injury to the heart leaves open the possibility of a subsequent suicide attempt in a way that brain damage probably doesn't.

      Delete
  2. And even with a .22, some people manage:

    -----
    A 56-year-old man is discovered unconscious in a pool of blood in the kitchen of his house. According to findings, the man used a 22 long Rifle to fire 14 shots at his thorax with trajectories going from front to back, from right to left and on a nearly horizontal level. All the projectiles got into the left front side of his thorax and came out just under the back of his left armpit. One of them then got through his left arm and fractured his left humerus. According to the findings made on the premises and the position of the bloodstains, we think that man put his rifle against the wall, resting on a pipe. He fired, unloading two clips into his thorax. He had to handle the bolt of the rifle before each shot. To reload, he took the bullets which were on the nearby table on which blood marks can be seen. When reloading at a certain moment, he sat down in his armchair and when he wanted to stand up, he leaned on the armrests, on which blood marks can be seen. The last bullet was probably the one which went through his left arm, preventing him from keeping on shooting. His death, caused by a hypovolemical shock, was obviously very slow. [Forensic Science International, Volume 101, Issue 1, 12 April 1999, Pages 71-77. Emphasis mine.]
    -----

    There's also this disturbing (though not graphic) aggregate diagram of suicide wound locations.

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    Replies
    1. Wow.

      I respect the man's courage and resolve.

      I'm not saying I wish for anyone to be at the point where they decide their life is not worth living, but that took balls.

      Delete
  3. 25 years or so ago, when I was an auditor in a hotel up in Oregon, this guy (white, 30s), come up to the desk and chatted it up with me for a while. The next day, I read in the paper that somebody had killed themselves in their room at the hotel. For some reason, I knew it was him even though he'd never mentioned anything about his mental state of affairs to me.

    Interestingly, he'd shot himself in the chest, then neatly made the bed, laid down, and died. I'm not sure what there was about the guy that I picked up on, and it makes me wonder about the Twilight Zone aspects of a recognition like mine. About 6 years ago, when I was living with a woman up in Spokane, WA, I met a friend of hers. There was something about him, a grayness or something. I was bothered for several days, and finally asked my girlfriend if he had any known health problems, because I'd had the premonition that he was going to die. She called his wife, and was assured that he'd just had a thorough checkup. Anyhow, we broke up shortly thereafter. I happened to run into her in a chatroom a couple years ago. She told me that right after I left, he was playing basketball and dropped dead as a stone on the court. Weird, and probably doesn't have anything to do with anything, but it was on my mind.

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