A Suicide Disclaimer

"Le Suicide" - Edouard Manet

“Le Suicide” – Edouard Manet

I mention a Suicide Prevention Hotline several times in my About pages. And I’ve posted about it. You may be wondering, is this real? You may also wonder if I’m making light of suicide. Perhaps it’s time for a disclaimer.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death. It’s a serious problem.

One of my blogging buddies, Elyse, at FiftyFourandAHalf, once posted about her own attempted suicide many years ago. It’s a funny post, but also a serious post. It’s a detailed description of an involved set of circumstances that eventually led to a sudden decision to kill herself by tetherball. Elyse points out in this post that many suicides are spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Suicide is a heavy subject, and one that many people don’t like to think about or discuss. I don’t blame them. Nothing gets gloomier than the idea of taking one’s own life. But it’s important to think about if you want to avoid being suicidal. So I try to lighten the topic with humor.

I believe suicide begins long before any impulsive decision to commit it. It begins with a mindset. The mindset we allow ourselves to fall into can lead us down a dark path toward a precipitous brink.

We turn ourselves into time bombs, waiting for just the right set of circumstances to trigger the explosion of suicide. I believe that many suicidal people have no awareness of the dynamite lying dormant in their psyche. They don’t recognize their own self-destructive potential.

My Suicide Prevention Hotline shtick is about revealing the kind of mindset that leads to suicide. For example, my Donald Who? post concerns itself with people who take politics so seriously, they easily become disappointed and depressed. Such people are suicidal, in my view, whether they realize it or not.

Suicide prevention begins when we recognize we’re on the path to our own demise. We all get on that path from time to time. The earlier we notice, the sooner we can change course. That’s why it’s important to be able to think about it. (And I mean think, not contemplate.)

I also believe suicide isn’t always such a bad thing. We all have suicidal tendencies to some degree. It’s a necessary part of human nature. For example, who wouldn’t risk their own life to save someone they love? What we have to guard against is taking our suicidal tendencies to an irrational level.

When we can recognize the mindset that leads to suicide, we learn how to avoid getting into such a frame of mind. Staying out of that frame of mind makes us less suicidal, and a whole lot happier.

And now, here’s the disclaimer:

Disclaimer: My Suicide Prevention Hotline is fictional. If you’re feeling hopeless and would like a skilled, trained counselor to talk to, try calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They’re real, and available 24/7.

The Grid

My hermitage about 10 years after I sold it. Years ago, it was razed and a modern house built over the site. Kind of symbolic.

My hermitage about 10 years after I sold it. Years ago, it was razed and a modern house built over the site. Kind of symbolic.

I could have been penpals with Ted Kaczynski. At the same time the Unabomber intrigued against modern civilization while holed up in a remote Montana cabin, I too isolated myself from civilization in a remote cabin. And while Ted’s activities were of the “underground” nature, so were mine. Literally.

That’s because my cabin was built underground. Well, mostly. As you can see from the photo, it was a log cabin dugout, with a roof that protruded a few feet above ground.

I resided with scorpions in the walls and rattlesnakes under the eaves. I held out against modern society for as long as I could, in this fastness of mine, beneath the desert floor. But at least I didn’t hate modernity as much as Ted, who got the lame-brained idea of mailing bombs to those at the forefront of technological progress.

Ted Kaczynski after his capture in 1996.

Ted Kaczynski after his capture in 1996.

These days they call what Ted and I did, “living off the grid.” But Ted wanted to do more. He wanted to get rid of the grid. That was not very brainy, especially from an erstwhile university professor. Ted grossly underestimated the scope and power of the grid.

There are all kinds of grids. There’s the electric grid, for instance. And some say if you put up solar panels, you are going off the grid. “Bushwa!” Ted would scoff, I’m sure. Because there’s also the water grid, which supplies you when you turn on the tap. There’s the internet grid, the highway grid, the grocery grid, and a whole gridiron full of grids.

A grid is any kind of modern system that supplies the masses with their wants and needs. And the grid is the insanely complex structure of modern civilization that you get when you overlay and interconnect all grids together.

It’s pretty hard to rid yourself entirely of the grid. For example, I didn’t like shooting wild critters. So I became addicted to the grocery grid. And Ted relied upon the postal grid to deliver his special packages to his victims. I wonder how thoroughly Ted pondered over that.

Things got pretty lonely for me out there on the gridless Mojave. Also my bank account was dissipating into dust. So after a few years, I sold my cabin and decamped back to civilization. I’ve been deeply embedded in the grid ever since.

I’ve learned that the grid is not the reified monster that Ted and I imagined it to be, so many years ago. Nor is it heaven on earth, as boosterish promoters of modern living might have us believe. The grid is actually just people. It’s the folks who keep the juice turned on, the water flowing, the trucks rolling, and the comestibles and consumables selling at the market. It never works perfectly, because people aren’t perfect. But with all its kludgy intricacies, somehow it usually comes through for us.

People can live cold, isolated lives in the middle of this great grid, not fully appreciating the value they receive from their neighbors and community, nor even the value they contribute back. Whether we realize it or not, we need each other very much.

The grid is very human. We are the grid.

Ahem! Excuse me.

Ling & Buttons02

Ahem! Excuse me, please. I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Tippy Gnu (pronounced Guh-new). This is my first official post, on my new blog, Chasing Unicorns.

I’m very excited about this new blog, and plan to post very frequently. At least once per hour. But I’m also extremely lazy, so it’s going to take a lot of self-discipline to keep up such a hectic posting pace.

I’ll try to keep my daily posts polished, well-researched, and credible. That way, once every other day you’ll be able to count on me to provide delicious provender for your mind.

When my weekly post appears on your reader, please take the time to read it, even if it seems to be a first draft. I’m a busy guy and take lots of naps. I don’t always have time to ensure that my subjects have preceded my predicates, and all that other sentence-structure folderol.

Besides, you’ll only be hearing from me once a month. It takes a while for me to do the legal research required to ensure I don’t get sued for some of the lies facts I want to tell.

Now, when my annual post comes rolling up your reader, please peruse it carefully and submit a thoughtful comment. I really want to hear from you. Even if it’s just a smart-ass remark you want to make. Your thoughts mean the world to me. Yawn. I promise you I’ll have something snarky and mordant sophisticated and considerate to say in response.

So, I encourage you to follow my blog, read my post that will eventually arrive, and then engage me in smart-alecky comment repartee.

I promise it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Marie Lamba, author

Some thoughts from author and agent Marie Lamba

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