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Suicide as Fashion Statement??

Posted Jun 18 2013 12:00am
So, this is disgusting.  Apparently, a website, Vice, published a "fashion" article with pictures of models dressed as famous women writers who attempted (like Dorothy Parker) or committed (Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath) suicide. To freakin' sell clothes. And to, in a most misogynistic manner, glorify the death of women, brilliant women, women whose minds created great books, who wrote words read by millions, women who were powerful, and who, sadly died at their own hands.

Why, you ask, do I care? Hello, this is a feminist issue. This is a mental health issue. This is a humanity issue. I care because, I swallowed the pills and didn't die. I got to have my stomach pumped and drink charcoal and live to regret swallowing the pills - every time I did it. Some people don't get to live to regret. Like a woman pictured in the now-disappeared Vice article, on Jezebel, I sat with the gun in my mouth. I almost pulled the trigger. The next day, my plans were ruined by an intervention of my family and the police who  prevented me from blowing my head off.

And this is where I tell you why it's a bad idea to kill yourself. If you survive all the swallowings of all the pills, the attempt to drive the car off the top of a 150 foot-high bridge, the gun in your mouth, the suffocating with the plastic bag, if you don't die, you get to live another day and have another feeling. Perhaps your feeling will not be complete and utter shit. Perhaps it will be relief. Perhaps it will be gratitude that you are alive and breathing or even, perhaps, happiness that you get a second chance.

It is so cliché to say that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but it is also so very true. Today, I spoke to a room full of police officers during Pinellas County's biannual Crisis Intervention Team training for law enforcement, which I've been involved with for several years. Each time I speak to these officers, I'm able to give them a glimpse into the life of the person they are going to Baker Act tomorrow in handcuffs in the back of their squad car. I am able to say "and then eight police cars showed up and the officers stormed at me and I was frightened", so I can explain how, when they have to go pick up a person with a loaded gun, maybe there is a less frightening way they can do it. I get to tell them "and the first time I overdosed an officer came into the ER to tell me it was illegal to commit suicide and I thought I might be getting arrested", and they can think of a different thing to say to the next 15 year old who OD's.

I get to try, in my own small way, to create a difference, create awareness, educate, illuminate. And I feel really damned lucky to be able to do that. The fact that I am alive is utterly amazing, and every day that I wake up to go to my dead end job, or take a class at my university, or go shopping for a new dress, or speak to a room full of police officers about mental illness, each day when I get to pet my cats, take my neighbor Mary out to lunch because she's agoraphobic, chat on the phone with my friends Kristyn and Kathy, or get yelled at by my mom when she calls, each day I live, I am grateful to be alive.

And I promise you, that no matter how low you feel, as Plath wrote "I know the bottom..I do not fear it for I have been there" ("Elm"), it will get better. Life can always get better, as long as you're not dead or locked up in Guantanamo. And the saddest thing in the world about the fact that many brilliant, female writers have committed suicide is that every one of them died early and could have written more if they had lived. I love many of those writers' works, and always have. I am a total aficionado of Anne and Sylvia and Virginia. But it isn't their deaths that make their writing great. It is their words. And if you could ask any of those great women writers who were lost too soon if they would like to have the worst days of their lives memorialized in a fucking sexist fashion shoot,, they would throw up on your face.

So, screw you, Vice.

And screw every idiot who romanticizes suicide. It's not a beautiful thing to blow your brains out of your head. It's disgusting. It's the opposite of beauty. It's a horrible ending.
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