Some who read early drafts of The Fun of Dying fretted that I had made the afterlife sound so appealing that I would be prompting suicides; so then I added to the book strong cautionary language about the risks of suicide and the difficulties that many suicides face in forgiving themselves. So now - depend upon it! - nearly every time I speak, some older set of parents or a frail-looking sister will come up to me afterward and say that their beloved child or brother killed himself, and after having read The Fun of Dying they fear now that he is in the outer darkness, and how can they help him?
We cannot win! Dear friends, we are in a box. There is no way to simultaneously comfort the innocent relatives of suicides while at the same time we sternly shake potential suicides by the shoulders and try to dissuade them. After losing our beloved friend Identity, some here thought that we ought to post a thread to try to dissuade visitors from killing themselves, and I have volunteered to begin one. But I am having trouble being as blunt as I would like to be. all those sorrowful parents and waifish sisters are too much on my mind.
Dear much-beloved friends, self-murder is the ultimate act of selfishness. Don't do it. There can be no reason good enough to bring that kind of suffering upon those who love you - not just the pain of your loss, but also the agony of guilt that they didn't see it coming and they didn't prevent it. If you find the notion of maybe taking your life at all appealing, here are some thoughts for you to ponder:
1) It is impossible to kill yourself. You are eternal! Killing off your body only deprives you of the means to improve your situation, but it doesn't solve anything. As I have told several suicidal folks, suicide solves nothing! The problem with killing yourself is that it is impossible for you to die.
2) You will have to witness the suffering of your loved ones at your death. Whatever is making you feel glum enough to think about taking your own life, it cannot possibly be as bad as having to watch those you love as they deal with the aftermath of what you have done.
3) You may have trouble forgiving yourself. Those who cannot forgive themselves for things that they did in life will condemn themselves to the miserable outer darkness level of the afterlife. And they may be there for quite a long while before rescuers manage to get their attention. Far from enjoying the Summerland after death, the risk is considerable that you might be consigning yourself to eons of misery.
4) You will almost certainly come back and repeat all the same lessons that led you to commit suicide in the first place. This comes up over and over again in the afterlife literature. Those who kill themselves will promptly plan a new lifetime in which all the stumbling-blocks of the old one come up again, although now they are worse. Did you have financial troubles in this life? In the next, you will be a pauper. Marital troubles? In the next, you will find yourself divorced and abandoned multiple times. And so on and on - you will plan to make that next life all the harder in your zeal to learn these lessons once and for all. Or so the evidence tells us. So if you are going to have to face and learn from these lessons anyway, then why not do it now? Why not just get it over with?
- About the only bright spot in the suicide story is that children and young adults who kill themselves usually don't feel much suicide guilt. This is true, too, of the very old and the terminally ill: they feel little or no guilt. But even if you are unlikely to feel guilty after your death, suicide is never the answer. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the illustrious author of On Death and Dying, suffered a lingering terminal illness and railed at God for making her stay here so long. But then after she graduated, she told her family that her long decline had actually been a wonderful set of lessons and she was so glad she hadn't cut it short!
This brief lifetime is only a bad day in school. Even without your suicide, it will soon be over! Whatever difficulties you had planned into this lifetime are just the harder parts of your lesson-plan, and in persevering at them you will learn and grow and perhaps spare yourself countless other lifetimes.