So I found this really weird thing earlier this evening, and ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what I think about it.
Martin Manley, a sports writer from Kansas City, committed suicide yesterday. Before he did, he published a website about his life … and death, which can be found here (mirrored here because I’m sure the main site is getting slammed).
Browsing through that website is a very bizarre and troubling experience, as I’m sure anyone who’s ever had to read a suicide note could attest. I’ve known a couple of people who’ve committed suicide, but never before have I had this kind of glimpse into what’s going on inside the person’s head before they finally pulled the trigger … and at this point I don’t think that’s a good thing.
I don’t think many of us are really fans of suicide. I think it’s silly to make something like that illegal, and I think that I can better understand the scenarios where someone has been very sick for a very long time and is just tired of suffering. Mental suffering like depression is a bit harder for me to grasp, simply because I’d like to think that everyone has a chance of getting help, even though I get that there isn’t always help for some people.
But what confuses me as I read through the pages of that website is that Martin went out of his way in an attempt to make clear that he’s fine and he’s just ready to die. One friend on Facebook commented that he seems paranoid about the future, talking about economic collapse and recent tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. He also talks about buying $30,000 in gold coins back in 1998 “in preparation for Y2K,” and yet he also cites having one of the highest IQs in the state.
The more I dig into it, I guess that’s when I start to get a little icky about it because it started to remind me of a couple of writers that come to mind that write in this same style, and are kind of all over the place in what they do, and more importantly, the feeling that they’d do just about anything to get people to read their work. And I’m not talking about the natural drive to want your work exposed to as many as possible … at this level, I’m talking about more extreme cases, and it’s because of this that I’m not sure I want to read anymore because I can’t tell how much of this is interesting because it’s interesting, as opposed to what’s interesting because it’s from a guy who just killed himself.
And the thing is, if you want to be remembered for something, killing yourself isn’t the best way to go about drawing attention to it because it ends up getting associated with the suicide itself instead of holding its own merit anymore.
He has a page on this extensive site of his where he comments on whether the whole thing is self-serving, citing that “This is to be the LAST AND ONLY CHANCE I will ever have to tell the world who I was.”, and I think it’s partially from self-deprecating attitudes like that where the term cowardice gets associated with suicide because another option if you’ve really got so much about your life that you still want to share with other people, why not stick around a while longer and share it with people. Time will mark the end for you on its own soon enough, so instead of throwing out one last pitch and hoping that people remember you for that throw instead of the fact that you went and offed yourself immediately after the game, why not play a few more and share the stories yourself???
Now if people decide (or have already decided) that they don’t want to hear your stories, then that’s something that you just have to deal with as a creative person … and I’m not necessarily saying that that’s the case for this guy, as I’ve never read a word that he’s written other than the several thousand on this site. My point is simply that killing yourself is no more effective at getting people to like your work than it is at making your ex-girlfriend get back together with you.
Anyways, I think I’ve written long enough about this. On the surface, it seems like an intriguing concept to read about the things going through someone’s head leading up until they decided to take their own life, but when you actually start to peel back the layers and just find yourself faced with more and more questions that you’ll never have the answers to, I think that personally I’d much prefer to read about someone who was passionate about life than one who was more focused on his own death…