Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Suicide Is (not) Painless.

"The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.
suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please."

-Theme from M*A*S*H, lyrics by Mike Altman, 1970.


Voice, mannerisms, face, speech peculiarities, personality traits perfected, at least to be a benchmark of recognition;  to some simply as reference for association - to others, points of affection and love. 

These cannot be restored on that one indeterminable choice.  Those of us remaining restore the sounds or images in memory only, yet memory, sometimes of our final view of a face, too, becomes indeterminable:  That one tragic choice becomes the bane of us all.  

How can we not question what we second guess? 

©2011 R. Burnett Baker


We learned today that a co-worker, who had had numerous personal troubles, has taken his own life.  It was a jarring revelation, but not totally unexpected.  That we sensed the possibility of such a choice by him is most troubling.  Among other personal problems he was facing, his employment with the company was terminated about two months ago.  

I happened to be at work when it happened.  He rode his bike to work each day, and that afternoon I stood near the window at the front of the store and watched him outside as he prepared to ride home on his bike.  The expression on his face was one of absolute nothingness.  I felt such sadness for him, especially knowing the other trials and tribulations he was facing in his personal life. 

It fleetingly crossed my mind then that perhaps it was the last time I would see him alive.  I wondered if I should maybe call him in a day or two and at least offer moral support. 

I never did that. 

That, too, troubles me. 

Tonight, on the way home, I wanted to offer a prayer for him,  but I didn't know how to do that.  I can only pray that God will grant his spirit reprieve and healing in light of this terrible choice he felt he had to make.  It's all I can think to say.  

Suicide is not painless.  It cannot be taken, or left, as the song suggests, as anyone pleases.   


  1. Yes, it's better to reach out before rather than attempt our feeble prayers to reach into the nethers after the fact. I believe it takes courage to live. We who struggle day to day to keep our faces turned to the light, look through ugliness in ourselves and others, struggle through and release ill-will and self-righteous inabilities to 'live and let live' (meaning ultimately to forgive), we who determine to realise that - come what may - life is beautiful in and of itself, we are the lucky ones.

  2. rick i understand your comment on my own blog more fully now. i feel compassion for you rick and of course for your co-worker and all who knew him.
    it takes courage to live . . . . hmmmmm. steven

  3. I've had to see this scence a few times. I work as a teacher and is a heart breaking and surreal experience. I'll match your prayers.

  4. Suicide is never painless - it takes a lot of pain and heartbreak to reach the point of contemplating it. Once done, pain is left behind with those who live on and regret, regret things said or left unsaid.

    It is impossible to say things might have been different if you had called him - but you had considered it and that in itself is important, a marker that you are a good person.

    My thoughts are with you.

    Anna :o]

  5. I'm sorry Rick. I have also had a co-worker who committed suicide and also the husband of my best friend. These were many years ago, but I still remember; each time it comes back to me the helpless and agonizing feeling is almost overwhelming. Suicide is definitely not painless for anyone who knows the victim.

  6. Rick, I just found out about this. My fleeting thought watching him leave that day would have been the same as yours, and I likely would not have followed up, either. He didn't welcome that kind of interaction from us; at least that was my impression. And I truly don't think it would have changed the outcome. Doesn't mean that was the right choice, but it is reality IMO.

    I am sad for him on so many levels. There is a lesson here.

    I hope you are well. :)

  7. Rick!

    I applaud you and your concern for that coworker.

    I do believe his mind was made up whether you or another said something to him or not.

    Suicide may not be painless but at least he is no longer in pain.

    May he finally rest in peace.