Thursday, November 4, 2010

Romantic suicide. Thursday, November 4, 2010.

“And it seems to me you lived your life / Like a candle in the wind / Never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in.” – Elton John, “Candle in the Wind”

When Marilyn Monroe was found dead on August 5, 1962, the world mourned. It was still early in the decade, and more celebrity deaths were to come, making Americans in particular feel disillusioned in the goodness of the world. But Marilyn’s death was so shocking because she was the very picture of joyful innocence and incomparable beauty.

People wrote stories, poems and songs about Marilyn’s death. Even though it would be revealed later that Marilyn battled depression, and even though her death of acute barbiturate poisoning was ruled a “probable suicide” by the Los Angeles Coroners’ Office, some people believed (and still believe) that Marilyn was murdered.

But many people who do accept her death as a suicide may find in that suicide something to envy. “She was so beautiful.” “We’ll never forget her.” “How can someone that happy commit suicide?”

Elton John wrote, “Loneliness was tough / The toughest role you ever played / Hollywood created a superstar / And pain was the price you paid.” Poet Sharon Olds wrote of the men who carried Marilyn’s body to the ambulance, “These men were never the same. They went out afterwards, as they always did, for a drink or two, but they could not meet each other's eyes.”

Everyone wants to be remembered when they die. People who are suicidal probably spend more time than others imagining what people will say at the funeral, or how the obituary will read. People who want to kill themselves because they feel they have been wronged may put a great deal of energy into romantic ideas of what people will say. “Oh, he was such a great guy. I feel so bad I was so mean to him.” “How tragic she took her own life. I guess I should have taken her more seriously.”

There’s only one catch.

They won’t be around to hear these words of love or regret.

In your mind, you might see yourself hovering over the funeral home or the grave, thinking “Finally!” or “Serves you right for dumping me!” or “This will teach you!” But in reality, you won’t be there. You won’t get the satisfaction. Dead is dead. And you’re not Marilyn Monroe.

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