“If all else fails, I can always become a hippie.”
You have probably seen this phrase or some other along these lines, didn’t you? I did it many times, but never really thought about it and never ever seen someone seriously considering becoming a hippie because everything else failed for them — no, movies don’t count.
Some years ago I planned and almost committed suicide. I was 30 years old. It was not the first time I had thought about killing myself, but it was the first time I converted thoughts into actions.
I came close to it, I think. I am not sure if it was a lack of resolve before the final moment that stopped me, or if I simply surrendered to this hope that defies my comprehension and that I am unable to get rid of.
I believe that death really is the end, that once your brain is gone, you are too, and that there is no after-life or any such thing — life is no fairy tale. For this reason, anything happening after your death shouldn’t concern you; actually, nothing in your whole life should concern you at all because once you’re dead it’s like everything never existed in the first place.
However, I think too much, I worry too much… Even about things that would happen after my death. For instance, to cause the least amount of trouble to people who knew me, I did things such as leaving my job, telling some guys who I had been seeing that I needed to travel and that I would be inaccessible for a long time (they probably would never know what happened to me and I didn’t want them to feel ignored or rejected), closing accounts, letting important documents easily accessible etc. Also, instead of killing myself in the place I lived, I thought it would be less inconvenient for my mother and some of my relatives if I did it close to my hometown, where they lived (more than 1000 kilometers away from where I lived).
If I were of the impulsive kind, I obviously wouldn’t have planned anything, I would’ve simply gone for it and I would not be here writing this. But there was more to it than just preoccupation about the mess that I would leave behind for the others. As a matter of fact, as I deconstructed my life by discarding projects, disengaging from my activities, and silently ending relationships, I did so in a certain order: from the least important to the most important, from the things I could easily discard to the things that were hard to part with or for which the consequences of my actions would be irreversible. It was a hope, an irksome hope that something could still happen, that maybe still there was a way for me to be happy and that even though I couldn’t find it after all these years, it still could show up in these final moments.
So I planned not only for the sake of others, but for my sake as well. The thing I was most afraid of was the point of no return, that one thing that I would do that would make me realize that there was no turning back, that I had finally lost all hope. To my surprise though, I found out that my point of no return was very far from where I expected it to be. I threw things away, I left my job, I gave my silent goodbyes to some people, and I overcame the huge pain I had for knowing that I would definitely destroy the life of my mother, especially considering I am her only son and the only person who she really considers important in her life. To my surprise, I was successfully letting go of everything, but I still hadn’t reached what I could call a point of no return.
After finishing the preparations, I took a plane to the place where I thought would be my last destination. I was carrying only the clothes I was wearing, my ID, a card, some money, my cellphone, a charger, an earphone (music is my drug) and some hard drives — hard drives?
Well, before killing myself physically, I felt I needed to kill myself digitally. I didn’t want people leaving messages in any of my social network profiles, nor I wanted them to start conversations trying to find why I killed myself. I know I would be dead anyway, but it was something that made me uncomfortable. And besides that, I didn’t want to leave pictures or other things behind that would make people think about me and suffer, especially my mother. Actually, I wish I had the ability to erase me from everyone’s memories so no one would be affected by my death, but since that’s not possible, I wanted at least to disappear from their digital lives and the Internet so I could be more easily forgotten.
I realized that if I were not able to kill myself digitally and mentally, I would not have the guts to kill myself physically, and doing this was disturbing. The process of leaving things behind and accepting that I was going to commit suicide was the process of mentally killing myself, and ending my digital life was important to this process, as it helped me not only to see myself disappearing from everyone’s digital lives, but also allowed me to isolate myself from others. However, it was not simply a matter of disappearing from social networks or from the Internet — I didn’t care much about social networks to begin with. But I had lots of things in my computers about me, like texts, conversations, pictures, songs… so many things that went back many years ago and that when put together would tell my whole life story, things that were precious to me. And that’s why I was carrying those hard drives on that day: after leaving everything else behind, I realized that destroying those memories, destroying the story that they told, would ultimately mean destroying myself and abandoning any last hope of continuing such story — that was my point of no return.
After wandering by the city for a while and seeing that there was nothing else to do, that nothing else would happen, I started to feel somewhat relieved. I would finally be free of this world and all the unpleasant things of life. I rejoiced with the thought of not having to deal with ignorant people anymore, people who are unable to respect each other, who have no sense of community, who praise dishonesty and who are devoid of empathy. It’s true that I would lose the good things too, like hanging out with friends, walking by the beach while listening to my favorite songs, traveling around to explore the world, and love… I would be finishing my life without ever knowing what is like to love and to be loved back.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I never loved someone or that I was never loved. The only person I ever fell in love for was a straight guy, and as another guy myself, I knew I couldn’t be loved back by him the way I wanted, but it’s not possible to reason with love, right? All I could ever expect from him was a good friendship — and boy, what a true and beautiful friendship we had… I’m glad he considered me his best friend, that’s really all I could get from him and I did get it. But this was more than 10 years ago and I never met anyone else who made me fall in love again since then. I did meet many people who fell in love for me (some madly, I must say), but even though I appreciated their love, I didn’t fall for them, and that’s why I said that I don’t know what is like to love and to be loved back. The sad thing about this is that seeing my life retrospectively, I realized that the search for love was the one thing that kept moving since I was a teenager, and I had failed to find it.
So I was sad. I didn’t want my life to end like that after all. But whenever I tried to consider other possibility than death, I would think about my situation and all I could see was that I had screwed my life for good. There was no reasonable route that could lead me to a happy life, all the paths I could think about would take me to a mediocre existence, for a kind of life that was not worth living, as I would hardly ever feel happy living it.
I always thought about leaving the country and going to a place where I could find more like-minded people, somewhere I could fit, where I could feel I was part of, a place where I could belong. Never even once in my life I felt like I belonged to the place I was born: my way of life, my ideals, my principles, they were all too different. But is there a place I could belong to? Well, why wouldn’t there be? The world is not as small as the globalization makes us think it is, and we are 7.6 billion people in the world, so I’m pretty much convinced that there are some places out there where I could belong to. The problem is that all the places where I identify like-minded people or a culture I could fit in are not really accessible to me. I mean, I can visit them, and I did visit a lot of great places in the world, and some where I felt I could belong. But that’s all, I can only visit such places. As a citizen of the third world, or as I like to say, a third class world citizen, I can’t stay on them, I can’t become part of them.
Sure I understand that it’s not like it’s impossible to immigrate, but I’ve got to my thirties and I still couldn’t even get a college degree. A third class world citizen on his thirties without a degree is of no value at all for immigration — actually, unless you’re rich, you can pretty much consider yourself worthless for the society in general if you’re in a situation like this.
No, it’s not because I am lazy or stupid that I was not able to get a degree, but it was not lack of opportunities either. In a sense, considering where I started, many people would say I’ve been quite successful. And looking behind, especially when I think about the other kids that I used to play with from where I grew up, even the fact that I was able to learn English is kind of impressive.
Some of them had a short life, usually because drugs killed them or because they became short-lived criminals. Among those who stayed away from drugs and crime, there were those who didn’t care much about studying and couldn’t improve their lives one bit, still living in the same old misery, and those who weren’t careful enough and started having children by accident very early in their lives, ending up in marriages they didn’t plan and becoming definitely stuck to where they were. One or another might have slightly improved their economic situation, and I wouldn’t dare to guess if they are unhappy or not, but in the end almost all of them didn’t manage to overcome poverty and it’s hard to say that they have had an enjoyable life.
Perhaps for feeling like a black sheep since my childhood, I didn’t follow the same path. I cared about studying and since very early in life I wanted to leave home as soon as possible. Even though I was under great pressure to stop studying as soon as finishing high school to go to work, I did manage to leave home and go to the best universities in the country. I am using the plural because it was not just one time: in the end I spent almost half the time of my life starting and restarting college again and again. I would start, study for a while, things would happen, I would start to need money, so I would stop the college, focus on the work, get the damn money, and find a way to restart college. Once back in, I would study for a while, things would get messed up for my family, I would need to stop to work for more hours and earn more money, then I would find a way to restart college one more time, would study for a while, then realize the course I had chosen was not really what I wanted, so I would restart college yet again and on, and on, and on… Damn! There it goes my whole life!
When I look back and see how much potential I had, how I was always able to stand out in the things I did, I can’t help but feel that I wasted my life, that I somehow blew it. Once I was promising, but one cannot be promising forever. I restarted too many times and time went by, I stopped being promising and became a broken promise.
Even though at some point in life I overcame poverty, and when money stopped being a problem and started to become part of the solution, the truth is that I didn’t really achieve anything. I was able to have a more comfortable life, to travel the world during my vacations, to buy some things I wanted, but whenever I looked at my life I saw nothing but the old promise I kept doing to myself year after year that things would get better and that one day I would leave this place — and that’s all, there was nothing more to it: things never really got better despite the money, I was still stuck to a country I hated without any chance of leaving it anytime soon, and after all these years I was still not able to find someone I could love.
So in the end, what’s the difference between me and those other kids I talked about earlier? I was no better than them, quite the opposite: not only I didn’t achieve anything, but I was about to kill myself! In fact, despite not having improved their lives intellectually and economically, they might have found happiness, and what’s more important than that in life?
After walking around the city thinking about stuff like this, about wrong decisions that I made, reflecting upon what caused my life to be a failure, and after not finding any other reasonable way out, I finally decided to let go of the last things I was holding to. I forced open the hard drives I was carrying with me and I shattered all the disks to pieces. I really felt like I was murdering me then. It was the moment I finally had let go of everything in my life. I felt free. Free but sad at the same time. It reminded me of a song from Janis Joplin where she sings “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”. I immediately understood this, because now that I had nothing, I felt like I was free to do anything wanted.
But I was already too tired of life to do any other thing, all I wanted now was to end that day and my life with it. I bought some beers on my way to a bridge that was tall enough to let me successfully kill myself. I wanted to get drunk to feel more relaxed and I also thought it would help me to do not give up in the last minute. Since I rarely drink, I got drunk pretty easily with a few beer cans by the time I got to the bridge — an overpass more specifically.
It was already late at night. From time to time a few cars would pass by the bridge and I could see some people excitedly talking in front of a pub that was almost on the other side of the avenue and a block away from where I was. I took my cellphone out and made a factory reset on it — I didn’t want people trying to get access to my phone to try to find possible reasons for my suicide. I was not leaving anyone notes, letters or any kind of message about it and I knew people would be totally puzzled and left looking for a reason. I have always been the kind of person who’s always smiling. People wouldn’t notice that I was sad even on my saddest days, so it would be natural for them to be puzzled. But I just didn’t want to tell anyone my reasons, they wouldn’t understand anyway. They could be sympathetic, and I think that at least one of my friends would respect my decision, but I’d never expect them to understand, as the way I see life is much too rational and much too different from the way they see it.
So there I was, looking down from the bridge, imagining in what kind of odd position my body would be after hitting the floor. There probably would be a lot of blood… Perhaps someone from the pub would notice me jumping down, or perhaps it would take a while for someone to notice my body by the side of the road bellow. The police would be called. They would cover my body and wait for the guys from the forensics to come take some pictures and try to determine if I had jumped, if I had accidentally fallen, or if I was thrown from the overpass. And perhaps some curious people would be in the same spot where I was now, looking down my dead body and the police from the bridge, maybe thinking that I was crazy, maybe thinking that they once thought or have been thinking about doing that too, or maybe noticing for the first time in their lives that suicide was real and that one day it could cross their minds as an option too…
But is that it? Now I would jump and end the story? I knew I didn’t have the perspective of having a happy life anymore, but damn, it was sad it had to end like that! Yes, I could jump indeed, and as I looked down I knew that I was truly capable of doing it. It was sad, it was painful, I started to cry, it was terrifying, but yet it was liberating, I felt free — and what a dreadful conclusion: only by letting go of everything, even my will to live, I was able to be truly free!
I turned my back to the abyss and sat down on the floor crying silently. My body was not by the side of the road bellow, but I had mentally made the jump. I was dead inside.
As you can see, I didn’t kill myself that day, and in a way it was quite frustrating: I had one more time started something that I was unable to finish, what a pitiful excuse for a life… After all I went through, in the very last moment I wasn’t able to end myself, I felt absolutely pathetic…
I’m not sure I could say it was simply a lack of resolve… Perhaps it was hope after all. Stubborn, bewildering, perplexing, unintelligible, unfathomable, inscrutable, incomprehensible hope! The thing is that I was able to let go of everything and that made me feel free, it was really all I needed to be able to kill myself. And even though I had not jumped, ever since that moment I felt I could kill myself anytime. So if now I was able to do it without any ceremony, with no planning, no preparation or whatsoever, why not let life go on a little longer? I was pessimistic about life, I felt defeated, but why not explore just a little more and see what happens? After all, I could kill myself whenever I wanted if things kept going wrong.
That’s how I left that bridge on that day. Feeling stupid for keeping myself alive, but also feeling more free to try things differently and give life another chance. I remembered the phrase “if all else fails, I can always become a hippie” and how people use to say it jokingly. Now, my version of this phrase would be “if all else fails, I can always kill myself”, and knowing that I was not joking was daunting.
One thing that bothers me about all this is that as soon as I decided to give life another chance and restart again, that freedom that I felt when I was about to kill me started to vanish. Some responsibilities promptly came back as soon as I decided to keep going, and in time many of the things that I had let go made its way back to me. Despite this I had a comforting idea though: I had thrown everything away once, so I knew it would be easy for me to do it again.
Now, three years have passed by, and guess what: I’ve written this text to a suicide site after getting to it by searching for suicide methods with ********. Looks like all else failed after all…
Next: Would have I jumped?