Friday, November 21, 2008

Deathcasting


This just makes me sick to my stomach.

What the hell kind of a country do we live in, what kind of a race have we become, when someone's suicide becomes a form of entertainment?

That in itself doesn't surprise me. For every ledge jumper, there are countless others who will look up and yell, "Jump, jump, jump!"

"Death is an art, like any other. / I do it exceptionally well," as Sylvia Plath, another suicide, once said. So I'm not surprised much less shocked that several people who'd logged on to 19 year-old Abraham Biggs's webcam site, Feels Like Ecstasy, on Justin.tv and exhorted him to make good on his threat to commit suicide. Many others didn't take it seriously and kept typing "LOL" in the chat room. Some still didn't take it seriously even after police barged into Biggs' room and found his corpse lying on his bed in his parents' house (click on the Feels Like Ecstasy link and you can still see a screengrab of Bigg's dead body, although the clip has been pulled).

Understandably, his parents are shaking with rage that so many people could've watched their son's death without anyone calling the authorities until it was too late. Justin.tv is just one of many, many domains on the internet that host webcams, which is called lifecasting.

But Biggs was diagnosed as manic depressive, bipolar disorder, a condition from which I suffer. And the only people he had for company in his final moments on earth were silent pixels representing people who insulted and encouraged him. That's why this story makes me so sick at heart.

The prevalent "wisdom" is that if people threaten suicide and don't carry through with it, they were never serious about it and can be safely ignored. Let me assure you, dear readers, nothing can be further from the truth. The thought of pure death, self-extinction, is sometimes the only fucking thing that can rouse you from your depression because it's exhilarating, the bright promise of making a new start that can be as exciting as a new love interest, escaping your tedious, depressing life, and you'll do anything, anything, God, including literally clawing out of your own skin, to escape it. Especially when you feel, like me, that your life was an accident, an unwelcome anomaly from which the world wants to purge itself.

I know from personal experience how seductive the idea of death can be. This is coming from someone who, in 1980, tied a bathrobe cord around his neck, tied it off to a heating pipe and stood on top of a radiator. One step and I wouldn't be here right now. I joined the Navy, instead. I've never admitted that before.

Of course, that was well before the internet, well before we'd reached the Nexus phase of exhibitionism.

"Is there no way out of the mind?" asked Plath.

I'm surprised she never found that answer, since she, also, was a writer. Writers, novelists, create people who don't exist, worlds that don't exist and then have to play God and reconstruct the laws of human psychology, of physics and impose order where there was only chaos. Yet so many great writers, too many to name, have chosen suicide as a way out because they couldn't impose order in their own house.

Writing is the therapy I cannot afford. It gives me a strong sense of purpose. Others haven't a distraction from death or have a strong talent for self-expression. Young Abraham Biggs was one of them. And we watched while the life bled out of him.

Even hours after the news broke, Biggs' Myspace page has hardly attracted any comments even for sympathy.

12 Comments:

At November 21, 2008 at 8:57 PM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

pure truth. white hot and pliable, hammered by your craft into something beautiful jp.

i once, with the l.a. phil, played a 3 hour concert consisting of works by bipolar composers.

guys like j.s. bach, who, if copyists were to sit with pen in hand and rewrite his music notation from the existing manuscripts would take a team of eight 25 years.

or george frederick handel who wrote the score for the orchestra and the solo and chorus parts of "the messiah" in 28 days (with two rewrites). then he locked himself in a hotel room and spoke to no one for a month and a half.

or ludwig van beethoven, who would go one working jags of six days without sleeping, barely pausing to eat.

or mozart, or chopin, or schuman (who successfully committed suicide).

or wagner, although his music is not to my taste there is ample evidence from his biographers to do a psych autopsy and diagnose bipolar.

or my friends, townes van zandt, and jaco pastorius. i still miss those guys a little bit every day.

and you're absolutely right. if somebody talks about suicide it's time to call the pros. call a helpline, call the cops, fucking call somebody.

we are a society of heartless motherfuckers.

 
At November 21, 2008 at 8:59 PM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

p.s. during one of my own long dark nights of the soul i wrote what i think was the perfect suicide note. i was planning to shoot myself in the head with a pistol at the kitchen table. on the fridge i posted a note that said:

I was cleaning my gun.

love,
Stevie

 
At November 21, 2008 at 9:03 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Posterity will never record how many last will and testaments I'd written and never gave anyone. I think what stopped me was that I never owned anything of enough value to give away to anyone.

 
At November 22, 2008 at 1:19 AM, Blogger Stan B. said...

I never got into the actual mechanics, but was depressed enough to be put on hold on a suicide prevention hot line- and of course, had to laugh at the irony.

Later, my best friend threatened it so many freaking times- I actually told him (after trying to dissuade him so many times before) to get it over with and spare the both of us. I was that sick and tired of hearing the gratuitous, non-stop self pity- and to this day don't regret saying it.

I don't know what actually happened here, other than to think it's quite sick to actually encourage it (though I guess, I myself stand accused), but how many "reality" shows are little more than slow motion suicides (for all concerned) which we all get to cheer. This country of the lone individual against all odds has metastasized into "fuck 'em all."

 
At November 22, 2008 at 11:14 AM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

Back in the 1960s, a woman was murdered in Queens, NY and no one called the cops even through she screamed for help for hours.

That mindset has gotten up here to rural Vermont. This week a woman was murdered by her boyfriend in Putney and no one lifted a finger to help.

I can not even imagine being that dis-compassionate.

My two cents are that parents are raising kids to be fearful of others and to not get involved, since they are strangers. And on TV we have bloodsports like Ultimate Figher, which is allowed on the air after 'pro' wrestling paved the way.

But the other side of the coin is banned and fined. For example, Janet Jackson's nipple is going to the Supreme Court.

America pushes violence, and now real violence, not fake movie violence, on every channel, and even more vigorously suppresses nudity.

PS:
Minstrel Boy, I sure would have loved to hear that concert!

 
At November 22, 2008 at 11:24 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Back in the 1960s, a woman was murdered in Queens, NY and no one called the cops even through she screamed for help for hours.

Kitty Genovese. I remember. I've even written about it. SOB was chased away by the only guy who got involved then he came back in a few minutes to finish the fucking job. ABC made a TV movie about it in the 70's with Ed Asner.

There was a story that surfaced recently about a woman who dropped dead in the doorway of a convenience store and customers were seen in the security video walking over her corpse so they could make their purchases.

It's gotta make you wonder: Is that what my end is gonna be like? Will people be walking over my body so they can heat up their breakfast burritos?

 
At November 22, 2008 at 11:27 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Wichita, Kansas, as a matter of fact. She was a stabbing victim.

One person did stop long enough to take a picture of her dying body on a cell phone, so I guess that's something...

 
At November 22, 2008 at 12:41 PM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one reason for this is that the police are no longer considered to be helpful or our friends. hell, the cops aren't even us anymore.

if the cops are going to come, nobody wants anything to do with it. they might taze you and shit.

 
At November 23, 2008 at 7:32 AM, Blogger Bukko_in_Australia said...

Well JP, that explains a lot about why you quit blogging so often. You know how I dealt with my longings for self-abnegation? By channeling them into wanting to kill some other motherfucker instead. Usually my ex-wife. Often, when we weren't even ex. Fortunately for both of us, I didn't. But never forget, it's better to hate someone else than to hate yourself.

 
At November 23, 2008 at 10:47 PM, Blogger kimmyk said...

sad.

i looked at his myspace page-and on the sidebar he writes

"I tell all my friends even if it's 3-4AM and they need someone to talk that they can always call and I'll never turn them away."

sadly, there wasn't one of those friends there for him in his final hours when [i imagine] he needed them the most.

i dont know what happens inside someone's mind to think its all not worth it. maybe you do givin the situation you found yourself in years ago. i don't know you really, i just have "heard" aboutcha from my buddy, firestarter5, and well...he thinks you're a pretty a-okay guy, and i dont think he thinks that way about too many people honestly, so...i'm just glad you didn't take that step in 1980.

i have a 16 year old and i wont lie-at times i wonder when he's so angry at life sometimes i wonder what goes on in his head. i worry. a few years ago there was this sort of spike (if you will) in teens committing suicide...it was always a matter of out doing the one before. it scares me raising kids today honestly, the world is a cruel place at times...even worse when you're a teen trying to find your place in it.

sad. really really sad.

 
At November 28, 2008 at 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You never admitted you joined the Navy?

 
At November 28, 2008 at 12:50 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

No, I never admitted I attempted suicide.

The Navy? I still haven't admitted to more than two people what I did in the Navy. And my SO and kids aren't among them.

 

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