Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NPR - Suicide

I've read the news stories about the recent suicide of Mike Penner, formerly known as Christine Daniels. Mike transistioned to being Christine on the job as a sportswriter for the LA Times and then transistioned to resuming life as Mike. And then committed suicide. While the newsstories are ok, a lot of people, especially in the transcommunity Christine affliated herself with during her transistion, have come out of the woodwork to talk about suicide, and suicide for transpeople.

Unfortunately, and in my view, almost all of them have it wrong. That's because if they don't have the experience of seriously attempting it and either failing, which is itself something, or changing your mind just before, as in my case, you don't have a clue what's really about. I also saw this with the suicide of my nephew, with what I suspect is the intentional suicide of my brother (took over ten years from drinking and smoking), and with what I suspect my Dad when one day he just quit life and died two days later.

Almost all those who haven't personally dealt with suicide put the reasons on the external pressure on the person. It's the obvious and the things they can see, since they can't see, let alone hear, the thoughts and emotions of the person who committed suicide. It's the obvious to assess blame it wasn't the person's fault except that, as some do, blame them for being weak or not asking for help. And they are so wrong.

Suicide is a choice from internal pressures. It's always from within looking out, not lookng out and reacting to those pressures. They see themselves as the reasons. It's not like someone said, it was all the pressures to be someone and conform to the accepted standards of those type of people. It's from the feelings about being someone and conforming to those standards with your own self-identity.

I know many will say it's just two sides of the same coin. True to some extent, but it's still two different sides of the same coin. And both sides are totally different. The forces on a person doesn't make the contemplate and then commit suicide. The forces inside the person reacts to those forces driving them to contemplate and then commit suicide. It's all about what's inside the person, their view of the world and their life.

And it's all about what choices they see, which slowly narrows to where there is at best two and at worst one. And when it's gets to one, all there is to rescue the person is themselves. We can't. We can't because they don't see it. That's what all these folks completely miss, and will never see unless they've been there enough to know.

Your view of life is like sitting at the bottom of a deep well. You're surrouding by darkness and all the help dropping to you is lost in the darkness. All the sounds muted by the silence of the darkness. All the light gone except what's in your own soul and spirit. And that's what will rescue you, as it did me.

It truly reduces to the simple choice of life or death and it's not something the person thinks, that's for how the commit the act. It's about what they see about life, not just their life, again as many spectulate, but simply life itself. It becomes the choice deep inside you and only any spirit to live will change it.

And what folks don't get about this too is that it never goes away. Once you've sat there, feel the silence of the darkness, the warmth of being there, you never lose it. The question is if you decide to go back or keep it hidden within you so no one knows it's there, and you can and maybe will go back.

And as they say, been there done that. And yes, it never goes away.


  1. Well, as a T*person myself I really identify with this. Transitioned 1995 and would I do it all the same again? No, probably not. Or maybe.. It's too hard, though. You never get acceptance. There will always be people who stare and whisper. I often feel like it wasn't worth it. Like life isn't worth it. And of course that is exactly how those who dislike people like me WANT me to feel.

    Meanwhile, people who want to be nicer will tell me I am brave. But it's not bravery, it's desperation. I'm sorry Christine Daniels didn't make it - and I think maybe I know how she felt.

  2. Thank you very much. For most (trans)people, it's hard to decide to transistion, or not, and then harder to transistion, or not. And it's why many don't, the risks and costs far outweigh the feelings and potential happiness, which aren't assured. I think Christine (Daniels) discovered the reality of both, trying and finding the world isn't all that kind or nice and trying to live back and finding it's not an answer either. And faced with neither, there's few choices and fewer answers, only yourself, which you see a failure.

    This is where I get angry with the transcommunity for all their talk about support and the lack of it in reality. You're right about the bravery and desparation, but where was the community Christine needed to find and get real help beyond words? They praised her bravery, but wasn't there for her desparation.

    As much as the community espouses "community", they never realize it's about a person, who all too often gets lost in the "we", never to find what they really need. And sadly the community never sees their own faults and flaws when this happens, only mourns the loss of the person.

    The community will ask what went wrong with the person and their transistion, but never look in the mirror to ask what they did wrong, to ask where they failed the person, and to ask why didn't they see and help earlier, when the truth is they looked at the wrong side of the coin.

  3. I wonder sometimes if there isn't a certain part of trans orthodoxy that is really saying "I want as many people as possible to transition because then I don't feel so bad about I did." Misery loves company or something.

    Now to backtrack a bit, I want to say that I am NOT miserable. I just know I easily could be. Like on my next birthday when I have to renew my drivers license in person with paperwork for the first time in years because of Oregon's real ID requirements ...I have to bring in all my paperwork - and face that bureaucratic scrutiny again for the first time in 14 years. In front of a general audience of people who also don't want to be there but for very different reasons.

    It is at these times that I wonder if it is all worth it. But left alone, I'm fine.