The Lighter Side of Suicide

“People rarely joke about suicide.”
~ Dr. Aaron Kheriaty

The whole world is mourning Robin Williams. He was a gifted comic; he made people laugh and smile, think and squirm; he shared his talents with the world and the world is better as a result.

Williams’ gift for comedy makes it all the more startling and tragic that he died by his own hand. So, even as we all mourn his death, we’re also talking a lot about suicide, and that’s good because there’s lots to talk about.

Here’s two affirmations of what’s already been said, followed by a somewhat quirky observation.

1. We can’t judge persons who attempt suicide. Many have made this point, including Williams himself. “We all eventually reach the end of our march,” he wrote in a foreword to Lt. Col. Mark Weber’s Tell My Sons. “If you discovered disease was about to cut your life short, no one could rightfully judge you for dropping out of line.”

The pain, the anguish, the hopelessness that drive people to suicide are impossible for others to grasp fully. Only God can, and we can be confident that he does so with infinite tenderness and compassion—it’s the teaching of the Church after all. “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives,” the Catechism teaches. “By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance.”

This is the idea captured so well by Graham Greene in The Heart of the Matter. After it’s revealed that Henry Scobie’s death was actually suicide, his widow doubts his salvation and her pastor sets her straight.

Father Rank clapped the cover of the diary to and said furiously, “For goodness’ sake, Mrs. Scobie, don’t imagine you—or I—know a thing about God’s mercy…. It may seem an odd thing to say—when a man’s as wrong as he was—but I think, from what I saw of him, that he really loved God.”

2. The act of suicide is always bad. While we surely can’t judge those who attempt it, we should avoid any confusion as to suicide as an objective evil. This used to be an obvious, commonsense idea, but we no longer have a cultural—or even legal—consensus regarding the act’s repugnance.

Consider the disjointed moralizing that NPR dished out earlier this summer on the subject. It was a story by Alix Spiegel several weeks back about a woman in Oregon who opted for legally sanctioned suicide and got her loved ones involved in the planning. “It was just so obvious that this is about as good as it gets for a human exit,” the woman’s daughter commented at one point. “This was not a bad way to go.”

“Human exit.” “Way to go.” This is the language of intentionality, and intentionality is precisely the problem with suicide. Certainly dying is inevitable, but it’s still a curse. To choose it—embrace it even, orchestrate and choreograph it—is not a victory, but rather a surrender. Opting for intentional death may relieve ones suffering in the moment, but it is always a permanent defeat, never a triumph.

Emily Esfahani Smith makes this case in “The Catastrophe of Suicide,” where she points to G.K. Chesterton as being an especially important opponent of the practice:

Chesterton was one of our last full-throated critics of suicide. His insistence that suicide is immoral sounds strange to our individualistic ears: “Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin,” Chesterton wrote: “It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life.”

Suicide is truly horrible—so horrible, in fact, that some kind of madness invariably accompanies it. No truly sane person will end his own life, and mental health professionals are on high alert when their clients even bring up the idea.

That’s part of the reason why there’s no room for personal condemnation: Those who kill themselves are rarely in their right minds when they actually do the deed. They often have untreated depression or mental illness of some kind, or uncontrolled, unbearable pain, and what they really need is aggressive treatment for relief, not “assistance” (physician or otherwise) in accomplishing their own demise.

In fact, when it comes to suicide, what really deserves censure is our society’s widespread moral amnesia that increasingly makes room for sanctioned self-destruction. Physician assisted suicide, now legal in five states, sounds both clinically tidy and profoundly merciful, but, let’s face it: It’s just really another way dispensing with suffering by dispensing with the one who suffers.

3. There is a lighter side to suicide. Believe it or not. You can treat it as an existential companion and gadfly instead of a dire threat, and, oddly enough, we can turn here again to Chesterton for guidance and insight.

One of G.K.’s lesser known poems is “A Ballade of Suicide.” Despite its title, it’s a bouncy, optimistic meditation that reveals both a profound sympathy with those driven to desperate acts and a resilient hope that such desperation can indeed be surmounted.

The “Ballade” starts off disarmingly with the narrator’s glib description of his morbid plan. “I tie the noose on in a knowing way,” he remarks nonchalantly. “As one that knots his necktie for a ball.” Chesterton even includes a chorus of onlookers who cheer him on in his goal, but then he holds back at the last minute:

The strangest whim has seized me…. After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Chesterton then proceeds to tick off an evocative list of activities and attitudes that have contributed to his change of heart—the prospect of payday, for example, and a novel approach to cooking mushrooms. Also, he sees “a little cloud all pink and grey,” and he remembers that he has never read “the works of Juvenal”—who has? These and other considerations have the cumulative effect of prompting the would-be suicide to change course, at least for that day.

And the “to-day” dimension of Chesterton’s poem is key. Like Alcoholics Anonymous’ well-known prescription of “one day at a time,” G.K.’s vision of suicide avoidance and prevention entails a valiant daily struggle against the temptation to give in to oblivion—something that Robin Williams also affirmed in that book foreword I mentioned earlier: “For those who refuse to let an incurable illness keep them from doing their duty, for those who keep fighting, for those who live life vigorously and joyfully to the very end, we have names for those people. We call them heroes.”

Heroes, yes, and “ex-suicides”a term coined by Walker Percy in Lost in the Cosmos. Ex-suicides are those of us, like Chesterton apparently, who have had reason to contemplate suicide, but have turned it down:

The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive. He goes to work because he doesn’t have to.

Percy and Chesterton aren’t talking about once-in-a-lifetime, Damascus Road mental health conversions. Instead, the habit of rejecting suicide—that is, the project of remaining an ex-suicide instead of an actual one—is a daily slog, and there’s no letting up. Ever. Heroism doesn’t come cheap.

It’s the kind of heroism on display in the “The Fisher King,” my favorite Robin Williams movie which features him along with Jeff Bridges as especially memorable ex-suicides. Even better, however, is the cult classic “Harold and Maude.” For most of the film, the two titular characters are exuberant ex-suicides who seem to be well on their way to inner healing and emotional stability. At the very end of the movie, however, after Maude regrettably ends her life, Harold’s intense grief seems likely to overwhelm his tenuous hold on living. He could follow Maude’s lead, but he doesn’t—an ex-suicide if there ever was one.

No, we don’t judge those who choose suicide, but we surely ought to judge the act and strongly urge the vulnerable to spurn it. The world needs more self-conscious ex-suicides, and Robin Williams was an especially heroic one for years, decades even. Sure, we’ll miss his knack for eliciting smiles, but I for one will especially miss his example of persevering ex-suicide heroism.

To honor him, I think I’ll locate a copy of “The Fisher King” and watch it with my teens. And, following G.K.’s lead, maybe I’ll track down a copy of Juvenal to keep by my bedside. You know, just in case.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared August 17, 2014 on the author’s blog “God-Haunted Lunatic” and is reprinted with permission. The image of Robin Williams above is taken from Christopher Nolan’s film “Insomnia” (2002).

Richard Becker

By

Richard Becker is a husband, father of seven, nursing instructor, and religious educator. He blogs regularly at God-Haunted Lunatic.

  • M

    A compassionate, evocative, and hopeful piece. Thank you, Richard Becker!

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    The depressions, failures, brokenness that make us feel ‘worthless to other men’ are incarnate in the crucifix. As Chesterton noted, the cross cannot be defeated because it IS utter defeat. When nothing else in this world is mine, Christ crucified is more gloriously mine than ever.

  • littleeif

    I am struggling with both the tone and content of your essay just as I struggle with lionizing Robin Williams, whose final commentary on life was suicide.I get the compassion and pathos suicide evokes, the same compassion the suicide has rendered meaningless. But then we can empathize with all our favorite sins. Of them, though, suicide is particularly nasty. By it we make a statement that cannot be amended, we declare the love we have received and ever will receive of no saving value, we declare our loved ones inadequate and our own psyche and being the center of the universe.

    We confuse laughter and goodness, but I think goodness more frequently cries. Goodness suffers terrible deaths for great causes. Goodness dies poor, humble, prayerful and often painful deaths. Goodness endures to the very end, to make every single last word count for something.

    I do not agree that “some kind of madness invariably accompanies suicide” unless we are to define evil as madness. Suicide is a perfectly rational act for one who denies the existence of eternity, lives therefore for self in material comfort and runs out of the prospect for it. The fact that the suicide implies strong emotion does not absolve it, any more than passion absolves fornication or anger absolves violence.

    Worst of all, suicide mocks the worthy deaths so many others have undertaken – the person, for example, who knew for six months he was dying from cancer, who used that time to repair his relationships and family, who struggled with his last dying breath to say to someone I love you. Please can we not confuse heroes and cowards in our appreciation of a good joke and our desire to reward it.

    • somebigguy

      I couldn’t agree more, littlfeeif.

      It’s clear to me that Williams rejected the truth about creation, man and God; that is, the Catholic worldview. He refused to accept it and chose to quit because, ultimately, God wouldn’t play his way.

      I’m not dismissing his suffering. And that’s just my point: we all suffer. But remember, Williams had it his way; he chose to party, drink alcohol, swallow drugs, marry repeatedly and pile divorce settlement upon settlement. He played by his rules.

      Suffering is an integral, unavoidable component of our existence; it gives rise to hopelessness. This is why we evangelize, why Jesus founded the Church… an institution Williams did not hesitate to mock.

      If only Williams had embraced Her teachings, rather than vilified them, I imagine he’d be alive today.

      • LittleJohn

        Thank you both for what you’ve said. People are far too quick to white wash the lives of celebrities simply because they’ve died, and far too quick to absolve people by saying they were not responsible for their actions, thereby taking away their dignity by asserting they are not free.

      • Defensor Vitae

        Well said, SBG. No doubt Williams made his own bed. Embracing the church’s teachings could have led him to embrace the cross as Jesus did. My father took his own life as well, but the fact that he was a faithful Catholic likely meant that his depression, which he kept hidden from his loved ones, was so great that it impaired his rational thinking, hopefully diminishing the moral culpability of his act.

      • John O’Neill

        In all the hoopla surrounding Williams’ suicide it is often forgotten that on many occasions Williams uttered anti Catholic sentiments in many of his entertainment acts. He made fun of Catholic beliefs as often as he could, not as often as ex Catholic Carlin but often enough. He belonged to the anti Christian Left that constantly supported all their pet causes. Yes, we can not judge a man before God does but we also do not have to deify him just because he is a famous and rich American.

  • DE-173

    I don’t know what drives a person to suicide, but not “judging” the person that takes their own life works two ways. Nobody that I can see has condemned Williams to hell, on the other hand he’s the subject of numerous saccharine eulogies.

  • Blah Blaah

    The concept of an ‘ex-suicide’ is a good one, and one that I’d never heard before. From time to time I get a little ‘warning bell’ from a student and I am never shy about talking about the total wrongness – the ultimate selfishness – of suicide. At the same time, I’m open in talking about my own struggles with depression that even went to the depths of suicidal depression (and the miraculous gift of grace that erased the depression from my psyche permanently about 20 years ago). I can use the concept of an ‘ex-suicide’ with potentially at-risk students I may encounter in future.

    Something I have hammered on a few times in my life when talking to a suffering younger person: Never try to solve a temporary problem with an irreversible, permanent solution. More concretely: ‘What you want to end is the PAIN of your existence, not the FACT of your existence. If you could live without the pain and suffering and depression, would you?’ The answer is always ‘yes.’ ‘Then let’s work on relieving the pain and suffering and depression – which come and go, which are temporary – instead of relieving you of your life, which, once gone, cannot be retrieved.’

    This same logic works with people suffering painful marriages: deep down, they don’t want the marriage to end, they want the ‘bad patch’ to be over and the ‘good times’ to come back. Children don’t want their parents to divorce; they want their parents to ‘grow up’ and solve their problems and create a warm and loving home. Divorce isn’t the answer to a troubled marriage; working on the relationship is the answer. It’s harder, but doing the hard work for the great reward, the greater good, is what makes us human (and maybe even heroes).

    Another thing that can help: the depressed person is in such pain now, that death seems like it will relieve the pain, and so it may seem like a ‘good.’ But ask the person, ‘What part of you “hurts”? Is it your body or something interior, your soul or spirit?’ The person doesn’t have to be religious to recognize that it’s something ‘spiritual.’ Then the question can be, ‘How do you know that by killing the body, you relieve the pain of the spirit? What if the spirit goes on after the body – and the spirit’s pain continues even without the body? How do you know that death will end a SPIRITUAL pain, if the death only affects the body?’ Or as Hamlet put it: ‘what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause.’

    Having struggled with depression from childhood, I know that there can just be that one thought that holds a person back, the question of, ‘How will this affect the people around me?’ or ‘What if this life is not all…?’ or ‘The depression has gone away in the past; maybe it’s possible for it to go away permanently if I get some help.’ One thought that stayed my hand was something a religious sister said when I was in second grade (a few years before my depression started): ‘people who kill themselves go to hell.’ Theologically correct or not, it came back to me many times that I would be escaping one, temporary, hell for another, eternal hell. Suicide didn’t seem to be such a great idea looked at that way.

    We should all speak up about the wrongness of suicide, especially if it has affected us through the suicides of people we know, because you never know when you will sow a seed in someone’s mind, a thought that will come to that person at his/her darkest hour and hold him/her back from taking that ultimate step.

    I know from the suicide of a friend that the people close to someone who commits suicide never get over it, never stop asking, ‘What if…?’ What if I had said something, done something, realized how serious it was, reached out more, been more patient, noticed the symptoms, been at home that day, picked up the phone…? Suicide seems to end the suffering for one person, but it begins the suffering for everyone close to them. We should speak out about that if we’ve experienced it, so that the voice of the culture of death isn’t the only voice heard by the desperate person considering suicide.

    • PF

      God bless teachers such as you who spread the Good News!

  • PF

    Thank you for writing this. You are right, that Williams’s death has promted many to revisit suicide as a topic for discussion–I opened the Catechism shortly after I caught word of his suicide. I think Williams may have been one of the greatest comedians of all time, and deserves praise for that. I am not sure, however, if Chesterton would agree with your calling Williams “heroic”, as we can see from his language and tone in Orthodoxy: “The man who kills a man kills a man. The man who kills himself kills all men. As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the whole world.” If we agree with Chesterton, then compared to a suicide, Stalin was a saint. I admit I feel uncomfortable with that conclusion, but perhaps suicide is so incomprehensibly evil, it will always make us uncomfortable, especially when we are tasked with mourning that suicide.

    • Thanks for your comment, PF. I quite agree that the act of suicide is objectively evil, no question. On the other hand, culpability, as the Church teaches us, is always open to conjecture — ultimately it can only be weighed and judged by God.

      I think we’re in agreement on those points.

      I’d still like to argue, however, for Williams’ heroism as an ex-suicide for so many years. His struggles with depression, substance abuse, and, frankly, the burden of fame clearly took their toll on him, and I imagine he toyed with the idea of suicide many times. Every time he rejected it, he was acting heroically and admirably. Tragically, he chose differently two weeks ago. God knows why.

      • PF

        I agree on all counts, even that Williams was heroic as an ex-suicide, but I cannot agree that he remains heroic as a suicide. By labeling someone a “hero” I think what we mean is that they are someone to be admired and emulated. Yes, the suicide of Robin Williams and all the others throughout history are tragic. But doesn’t the tragedy lie in the fact that they are fallen heroes, who could have died as ex-suicides by the hand of God?

  • Ib

    Yes, this is a heartfelt post that tries to keep a firm distinction between the person who commits suicide and the act of suicide itself. This is commendable. Suicide as an act is always evil, however the person who commits suicide may not be morally culpable for the act given circumstances limiting their ability to act rationally (recall that a moral act consists of three elements: the objective act [what we do], the subjective goal or intention [why we do the act], and the concrete situation or circumstances in which we perform the act [where, when, how, with whom, the consequences, etc.]). Mr. Becker rightly argues that from our present knowledge of those who commit suicide, more often than not this is the case.

    However, for the greater part of Christian history this was not the common viewpoint. Before the 17th century, publicly known suicides were generally held responsible for “self-murder” and refused Christian burial. This was precisely because of an attribution of the mortal sin of Despair to the suicide. Dying in a state of mortal sin meant dying outside the Church, hence no Christian burial.

    To us moderns, this earlier viewpoint doesn’t give enough weight to the second and third elements of a moral act, so we find it inadequate. But if Chesterton was right about tradition being the democracy of the dead, can we simply dismiss the emphasis the earlier moral viewpoint placed on the first element of the moral act WRT to suicide? I don’t have an answer, and I agree with Mr. Becker’s stance … Yet I wonder if the earlier centuries of Christianity should be discounted so totally …

    • Thanks for your comment, Ib. You raise an important issue, and I do think that we have to take into account tradition and history when addressing complex moral questions today.

      However, I think in this case, the shift in church discipline with regards to suicide and Christian burial has less to do with ignoring tradition than it does our attending to a greater understanding of mental illness. In other words, following church teaching and tradition, suicide is still understood as an abhorrent evil, but there’s a lot more room for acknowledging varying degrees of actual willfulness and intent.

      A similar shift in tone applies to cremation I think. It used to be the case that cremation was forbidden by the Church. Today, cremation is allowed as long as (1) the request for cremation is not intended as a public denial of the resurrection of the body and (2) the cremains are handled appropriately.

      Thus, tradition is respected with regards to dogmatic concerns, and the discipline is updated appropriately in line with current understandings. In the case of suicide, of course, we can’t know the degree to which any individual is capable of full consent, but the Church, in light of an updated understanding of human psychology, appropriately risks erring on the side of mercy.

      • Ib

        You have brought out the crucial difference that I overlooked in my comment: we DO have better knowledge in our time of the nature and causes of depression which most of the time accompanies suicide. Thank you for clarifying this.

        God also has risked everything on the side of mercy, so as a Church, we have the best of examples to follow.

  • Fred

    You picked a hard subject to write about Peter, but that is one reason I come to CM. I struggle with your suggestion of “a lighter side” because I think most can hardly find anything light about it. I struggle with judgment too, but as a society I find it unnerving a little (ok, a lot) to see Robin’s status elevated because he was an entertainer and therefore seemingly of more value to comment on including from the WH. No friend brought him into a relationship with Christ as best I can tell where he might have found out his purpose for life, now that is sad. I know little about the demons of depression I freely admit, but worrying about indebtedness and a fading career seem hardly the stuff to end one’s life over. Honestly my heart tugs more for soldiers who return from conflict who need help rehabilitating from the horrors of war, or for those incurable and unbearable pain who maybe not of their right mind. I read stories from Europe and the spread in the culture of death “assisting” those who feel at the moment they can no longer bear life yet are full of life’s potential and think how sad a statement about society that we could find in comfort in that.

  • Conor

    I think Netflix has “The Fisher King.”

  • ForChristAlone

    #1 “While we surely can’t judge those who attempt it, we should avoid any confusion as to suicide as an objective evil. This used to be an obvious, commonsense idea, but we no longer have a cultural—or even legal—consensus regarding the act’s repugnance.”

    In fact, demographics in mental health research routinely pointed out that practicing (in those days “practicing” was synonymous with “Catholic”) Catholics had the lowest rates of completed suicides because of its being a morally sinful act. Being catholic was a buffer and it says something about the positive effects of strong moral prohibitions (like divorce used to be for Catholics as well).

    #2 I would have thought that the Hollywood/ Drive-By Media Crowd would have been ecstatic about Williams’ suicide. Why would they be at all saddened at someone exercising dominion over his own body? Isn’t this the group that has tried to indoctrinate us with the idea that each person has a right to do with his or her own body what they want? They advocate “choice” when it comes to women disposing of the “tissue” contents of their wombs in abortion based on their right to do with their bodies what they so choose. Why wouldn’t they be similarly elated with Robin Williams’ exercising his “choice?” I’m confused.

    • Fred

      Beautifully said, especially reflecting on the choice crowd, and thanks for sharing the personal experience. I know it is an enriching experience to see someone come back from that state of mind after reaching out to them and giving of yourself.

    • somebigguy

      The reaction of the Hollywood crowd and mainstream media is exactly what I would have expected. Think about it…
      Being “pro-choice” is all about “me.” Robin Williams was particularly popular among this singularly self-indulgent group. But they won’t miss him. They can’t. Because they didn’t know him except as an image on a screen and a voice on a soundtrack. What they’ll miss is what they got from him: entertainment.
      Unlike the preborn, infirm and elderly, Robin Williams was useful.
      If Robin Williams’ demise had been like the vast majority of suicides– that of a nobody, to use a pejorative our anti-life culture would appreciate– his death would have gone unnoticed. Just like the thousands of abortions performed across the country that day.

    • montanajack1948

      #1: Undoubtedly true–strong religious, moral, and social prohibitions reduce suicide.
      #2: “I’m confused”: on this particular point, yes, you apparently are.
      #3: An inspiring story, and in your last three sentences, you delineate the lessons perfectly. For some people, sadly, the severity of the depressions doesn’t lessen over time, and of course some people are not so fortunate to have caring people around them. Regardless, you’re right: “Life does not have to end at our own hands,” and we need to remind each other of that.

      • ForChristAlone

        #2 I don’t think you got the irony. I am not confused; they are the ones confused because of the inconsistency in their application of the principle they espouse of each person’s “right” to do with their bodies whatever it is they please to do. If they truly held to such a position they would be applauding his demise because he exercised his “choice” which is a good they hold sacrosanct i the case of a woman’s choice to abort.

        • montanajack1948

          I think it’s possible (in fact, I know it is, because I’ve done it myself) to believe in a person’s right to choose and still disagree with a particular choice; and certainly it’s possible to mourn a person’s death even if you believe he had some sort of “sacrosanct right” to end his life. It strikes me as uncharitable to tell people who are mourning a loss that their grief is inconsistent with their principles. I often hear it said that liberals make everything about politics and ideology; apparently they’re not the only ones.

          • ForChristAlone

            I question the mourning, not as insincere but as inconsistent, when someone has made a choice of their own free will to do with their bodies what they so chose to do and those doing the mourning hold out this “right” to be of greatest value.

            We Christians will mourn someone’s death by suicide because we value life and consider it sacred. Moreover, we consider that it is God who is the Creator of life and all human life is intended for His glory. Our lives are not ours for the taking. That’s one major reason why we would mourn over someone’s death by suicide. I am just pointing out that there are others out there who do not share the same view of life’s intended purpose.

            • montanajack1948

              Certainly there are those who disagree with “life’s intended purpose” as you state it-why, some people don’t even believe in God! And yet they can legitimately mourn–selfishly, if you will–because they will miss the deceased, and because they think the world will be a less good place without him or her

              As to your question about abortion: of course–it happens all the time. That’s why it’s simply incorrect to equate “pro-choice” with “pro-abortion”; plenty of pro-choice women that I know would not have an abortion themselves, and they might even (gently, and respectfully) attempt to counsel someone else out of it. Name any right you want: endorsing a right isn’t the same as endorsing the use any particular person makes of it.

              • ForChristAlone

                #1 “Certainly there are those who disagree with “life’s intended purpose” as you state it-why, some people don’t even believe in God!”

                They don’t believe in God and hence are unable to see the purpose to life in the way Christians do.

                #2 “And yet they can legitimately mourn–selfishly, if you will–…”
                I would agree with this.

                #3 “That’s why it’s simply incorrect to equate “pro-choice” with “pro-abortion”; plenty of pro-choice women that I know would not have an abortion themselves, and they might even (gently, and respectfully) attempt to counsel someone else out of it.”

                I guess if you do not see the inherent contradiction in this, the discussion must end here.”

                • montanajack1948

                  Sorry, I really don’t see the “inherent contradiction”.

          • Facile1

            No one mourns for a person one does not know. So aborted fetuses are out of luck.

            But Robin Williams was famous. Many knew him and will mourn for him.

            As for myself, Robin Williams’ suicide did a terrible violence to my peace of mind, no different from the violence I suffer from when I think of the aborted.

            Praying helps when acts of violence grip my heart.

  • bonaventure

    “The whole world is mourning Robin Williams.”
    I am NOT.

    He promoted suicide, cross dressing, homosexuality, and a plethora of other liberal sacred cow causes. Every loss of human life is tragic. But Robin Williams just did what is the logical conclusion of a hardcore liberal ideology, depression or not. Someone, please read “The Possessed” by Dostoyevsky.

  • montanajack1948

    As an ex-suicide myself (and you’re right; it’s an ongoing project), and one who has always taken to heart Walker Percy’s wisdom about it, I appreciate your article. Your simultaneous refusal to judge any person while nonetheless straightforwardly rejecting the act of suicide is, in my view, precisely correct. I’ll never condemn someone who commits or attempts suicide; but I’ll never encourage anyone to do it either. I’ve mentioned before that Jennifer Michael Hecht’s book STAY is a valuable resource on this subject; from now on I’ll include your article as well. (And “The Fisher King” is one of my favorite movies too…) Thank you.

    • Thanks.

    • Facile1

      Thank you. I agree with you and the author of this article. Both of you have struck the perfect note between the censure of sin and a compassion for suffering.

      As an ex-suicide myself, I know the fight does not get any better with practice. The fear will not be any less fearful the next time. The sorrow will not be any less sorrowful even with time. The pain will not be any less so till the last.

      But trust that your body will know when GOD is ready to see you. He will not forget you. And you will be happy again.

      GOD BLESS.

      • montanajack1948

        Thanks. And remember the one-word advice (actually, it’s more like an instruction) of Jennifer Michael Hecht: STAY.

  • Mary Lee

    Mr. Williams has been judged “brave” for killing himself because he also was beginning to suffer from Parkinsons. No, brave is Michael J. Fox, who much younger than Mr. Williams has contracted Parkinsons and still smiles, works when possible and is around to help raise his children and be a truly shining example of courage.

  • Guest_august

    Suicide is never an option for christians. When a christian
    reaches the end of his tether and is staring down a tunnel with no light at the
    end, he has to do what Elijah, Tobias and Sarah did in such circumstance. This
    is the ‘christian suicide’ if you want to use that phrase
    Tobias 3 v 1-15; 1 Kings 19 v 1-9

  • GaudeteMan

    Slow down. The world is ‘better’ as a result? How so, specifically? He donated tens of thousands of dollars to the democrat party over the years which incontestably promotes the homosexual agenda, thwarts religious freedom at an ever increasing rate (yes Obama Care is paying for sex changes) and of course is compliant in the the shedding of the blood of innocents. In one youtube video you can hear the f bomb flying off the lips of Mr. Williams 100 times in just a few minutes! Now that ought to put a smile on my children’s faces. Speaking of which, Mr. Williams freely cussed in front of children at a democrat event last presidential election, who upon realizing their presence said, “I bet you learned some new words today…” Talented? Sure. Funny? At times. Made the world a better place? Not convinced about that one.

MENU