A serious question for Joe_Cool

A note; I chose the Pit as the location for this thread because it was inspired by polycarp’s thread regarding the suicide of a friend of Andygirl’s. I did not want to hijack that thread, but wanted to be sure it would be seen by Joe_Cool and perhaps the others involved in that thread.

Also, this entire thing feels rather complex in my mind, and I’m hoping it translates well when I write it down. Hopefully I won’t be too confusing.

Joe_Cool I am, naturally, in no position to know what has gone on in your life, what you’ve been through or felt, or how you’ve dealt with it. That said, from what I’ve read from you in these forums, I get the impression of someone who’s confident and sure of himself, sure of who he is and where he belongs.

I like to think I’m the same way. I’ve had my difficulties, just like everyone else, but from the things I’ve read elsewhere, I think that the problems I’ve been through pale in comparison to what others have. I’ve been depressed, sure, but I’ve never been to the point where I’d even think about suicide. Because of that, I don’t feel that I can make any judgements of anyone who has been at that point, whether they killed themselves, or worked themselves through it. I don’t know what it’s like, how it feels, how it’d affect me. Although I like to think that I’d square my shoulders and take it, I can’t possibly say what I’d do with any degree of certainty.

The question, now that I’ve been all long-winded, is… have you? Have you been through such hardship and torment that you felt nothing but misery and pain, and could see nothing in your future but torment? Where everything that happened to you felt like one tragedy after another, with no end in sight? If you havn’t, if you’ve been only through life’s little worries like me and many others, how do you feel you can judge those who have been at that point? How can you know, for sure, how you’d react if you ever reached that point? What you might do if everything in your life was pain?

On the other side of the coin, if you have been to that point, I wonder how you can not be more compassionate to others who’re dealing with the same feelings. If you have been in such a place, where death seemed like the only thing that wouldn’t be painful, how can you say that others in that place are stupid because they weren’t strong enough to deal with it? I’d believe that having been there would make one more likely to want to help, rather than condemn, those who are feeling the same thing.

Again, I make no assumptions as to the circumstances of your life. I just honestly don’t understand how you can have said the things you have when you can’t possibly understand the thoughts in the minds of these people, or when you understand them all too well.

Something I pointed out in that other thread but which got lost in the ongoing acrimony, but which I think is important to the ongoing discussion, is that as Christians Joe and I believe – and I think I’m justified in speaking in his behalf on this one point – that we alone are incapable of dealing with what life hands us, and that the Holy Spirit guides and strengthens us to perservere. To me, that seems key to the argument, because many people do not, for whatever reason, have access, or at least feel they have access, to His strengthening and comforting power.

That’s a theological question, probably out of place in the Pit, but one which I believe to be critical to what Joe may have to say about his views in response to the OP. So I felt it not inappropriate to interject it before Joe answers.

Eh, this seems kind of pointless to me. You’re asking Joe, “Haven’t you ever felt suicidal?” Well, obviously he hasn’t, or else he’d have said so. Everybody else in that thread who had been suicidal at one point certainly said so.

And then you’re asking him, “Why aren’t you more compassionate?” This is like asking me, “Why aren’t you better at math?” I am what I am, and Joe is what he is.

Why not just call this the “Flame Joe Cool For His Insensitivity Thread” and be honest about it?

Which incidentally I’m not doing. So people are sometimes a little insensitive on the subject of suicide, so BFD. I don’t think it merits an entire Pit thread. If anybody else but Joe Cool had said it, would you have started a Pit thread about it?

It’s not like he came right out and said, “Good riddance to bad rubbish, the human race is better off without him, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya, kid…” All he said was that he failed to feel the same sympathy towards Daryl that everyone else in the thread was apparently feeling, and he expressed the fact that suicides made him angry, not sorrowful. A lot of people out there get angry about suicides, and I don’t think it’s fair to jump all over Joe just because he didn’t join in the general hand-wringing, and expressed “anger” instead of “sorrow”.

So if anything, he’s guilty only of tactlessness and a failure to realize that the rule “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” obtains in a big way in SDMB threads about suicide.

I think the implications of this are extremely serious, DDG. Perhaps unintended, but serious all the same.

While being good at math is an excellent thing, it is not what we would consider morally virtuous. Compassion, however, is. Whether or not I am born with reams of compassion (which, for the record, I am not), I feel obligated nevertheless to try to make myself more compassionate. I am what I am, sure, but with time, practice, and right choices, I’d like to be a better person.

If math were an intrinsically good virtue, why would you not at least try to be better at it?

The OP is neither pointless nor a flame with a veneer of civility. It’s more like, “damn, dude, don’t you even try?”

If most of us were able to eschew self-improvement completely by saying, simply, “I am what I am,” many of us wouldn’t last very long. I’m hardly religious, but isn’t “I am what I am” one of this quintessentially divine one-liners? Like “vengeance is mine?”

I don’t feel that I was jumping all over him, and my intention was certainly not to flame him. I was honestly curious; it’s a situation I genuinely can’t understand.
Polycarp, I see what you’re saying. But again, the reaction baffles me. If you derive your strength from God, and He helped you get through such a period, why would your reaction be to attack others who are experiencing the same thing, rather than trying to get them the same help you experienced?

Maybe this thread is pointless. Could be. But like I said before, from the impression I get of Joe, he seems confidant and sure, and therefore, at least in my mind, unable to fully understand the feelings of others who aren’t so sure. I suppose at least in part I was hoping he’d read this and give it some thought.

I don’t, myself, understand Joe’s motivation in saying what he said. I know him to be a compassionate man in many ways, who doesn’t show that well in many of the threads he gets involved in, because he takes a different tack to the questions involved. (In this case, why people were condemning Daryl’s parents.)

But I thought it was worth pointing out that that reliance on the Holy Spirit is a Christian principle that AFAIK we’re agreed on. I asked him over on the Daryl Pit thread what he feels the “proper” reaction of people towards both Daryl and parents ought to be, I hope in a non-adversarial way.

I wait with interest to see what Joe’s response may be, both there and here.

So you’re trying to persuade Joe_Cool to pity those who have no invisible means of support? That’s still a bloody long way from from “let it enrich your life and respect others”. Is this the most efficacious use of your witnessing time?

Hmmmm…I thought the same thing, Hawthorne. It’s a bit insulting, to say the least.

There is a difference between sharing an opinion/belief and witnessing, as there is a difference between posting and being hostile and slamming others as you just did.

Just checking in to say I saw your invitation. I’ll post later after we eat.

Ok, to the OP:
Not really. I entertained the thought once when I was about 13 or 14 and feeling sorry for myself. I don’t think I ever considered it seriously, more like I was being dramatic, thinking “I’ll show them!” I wouldn’t say I came to my senses, as I don’t really think I ever took leave of them.

However. in early 1999, a very close friend of mine shot himself in the head, with no warning whatsoever. His girlfriend went to check on him after his father called her, because Dave had called, said he was going to kill himself, then didn’t answer his home phone, his cell phone, or his pager. She found him laying in a pool of blood in the living room with freshly painted brain-colored walls, and with a revolver in his hand. No note, no signs, no nothing. He was his normal, fun to hang with self, racing cars and listening to Triumph one night, then a corpse the next.

Whatever it was that he felt he couldn’t deal with, he had several dozen friends who would have been willing to help. There had been no sign of anything being wrong at all. To this day, nobody knows why he did it.

That whole episode only reinforced what I had always thought about suicide: It’s selfish, and it does nothing but cause pain to everyone who cares about you.

That’s my résumé, so to speak.

As you said, I tend to be pretty confident in myself, and though I know I have my flaws, I like to think I’m pretty together. Things are going pretty well now, what with my gorgeous wife and everything, but my life hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk either. I’ve been beaten up and picked on regularly (didn’t really grow until 11th grade, but talked to the big kids in the inimitable Joe_Cool style. You do the math), been rejected by my family and lived in motels for a year, been cheated on and betrayed by women, etc. There are people whose opinions I care about. Believe it or not, there are actually even people who don’t like me! But it doesn’t ever really get me down. Which brings me to Polycarp’s post. God has carried me through the rough times - and there have been some.

I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you ask why I can’t be more compassionate. How compassionate should I be? You want me to wear sackcloth and ashes, tear my clothes and rip out my hair, wailing all the time? A guy I never heard of until yesterday killed himself. Allegedly because of what I consider a dumb reason (of course, I think almost any reason for suicide is pretty dumb). I think it’s sad that he died, but like I said before, suicide mostly sets off my anger, not my pity. I see it as the ultimate selfish act (in most cases). In the particular case we were discussing, if it’s true that he killed himself because his parents flipped out over his being gay, then that’s a really childish response. Supposedly, he didn’t get Mom and Dad’s validation, so he killed himself. Things blow over. Any relationship can be repaired, provided you can avoid killing yourself long enough to let it happen.

That said, I admit that, while I’ve felt despair, it’s never been anything so severe that I couldn’t see my way out of it. That I credit to God, for carrying me through the truly hard times. Homebrew’s snide comments notwithstanding, I sincerely do feel sad for those who haven’t known the comfort and love that God can provide.

I love several things about the SDMB. 1) it makes me think 2) it makes me laugh 3) it teaches me stuff 4) it gives a forum to discuss issues that need to be discussed and are not discussed nearly openly or often enough.
Suicide is one of those issues. Suicide is also like most things in life, it can’t be generalised. Having “survived” the suicide of a husband and since that time having talked to many other “survivors” (i use the quotataions to indicate that we are called survivors but many of us never do survive in the best sense of that word)I know, that yes it is true that to those left behind suicide can seem to be an entirely selfish act. But the reasons, motivations and feelings behind a suicide are as many and as varied as there are people and deaths.
In the case of Daryl it seems selfishness would be a very unfortunate way to explain his motivation. Perhaps he was less brave then others in his situation, perhaps he had been taught less skills to cope then others in his situation, perhaps he felt more hurt then others and perhaps…just a teeny weeny bit he was feeling vindictive and wanting to hurt those who had hurt him.
Perhaps Joe is right, perhaps there is a element of selfishness to those who actually carry through a suicide attempt (my husband left me a note saying “hope you are happy now”…obviously I wasn’t and still am not 10 years later) BUT I honestly don’t think that anyone can say the major factor in anyones suicide is selfishness…at the basest level our human instinct is to survive.
I believe that suicide is one of the most of the most ignored issues in western society. My heart goes out to those young gay people fighting to survive in an inhospitable world but I don’t believe that their homosexuality is the crux of the issue. I come from a country that is prosperous, democratic and tolerant yet we have the world highest teenage suicide rate. Why??? good question…I don’t know, but I do know that it signals a horrific inability to talk to each other, to share our feelings and our crisises. Whatever our problems are; lack of acceptance, depression, rejection, lack of self worth, fear…whatever, we should always know that there is someone that we can talk to…shit even if we have to pay someone to listen!

I am a mother of an 11 year old who is 75% more likely to kill himself then his peers because of his fathers death. Please can we get past WHY and how selfish suicide is and just learn to listen to the people around us, and not just those we care about, be a friend to those that insist they don’t need one!

I hope with all my heart that daryl is at peace and that his “survivors” have learned a lesson in humanity.

And for the record I have felt suicidal and been suicidal many times in the last 10 years. I sadly think that sometimes stronger people, people with more resolve, those that could have gone on to do great things, are the ones who succeed in suicide. Look after them they could become just the people our world needs.

Wow, Joe_Cool, that explains a lot. I now understand a bit better why you are so angry. I am sorry for you.

Still, I would hope that your take on Christianity would bring about more compassion and less hatred, anger and nastiness. Perhaps life would deal you a better hand.

Polycarp hasn’t got around to answering my fairly grumpy question of last night. After reading Joe_Cool’s response, I’d like to withdraw the question.

My sincere apologies to both homebrew and hawthorne. That’s like the third time I’ve confused your names.

That should have been, of course, “Hawthorne’s snide comments”.

I’ve made no snide comments to you in quite some time, unless you’re counting the fact that I told robertliguori that I think he was right about you. That’s a rather mild comment from me to warrant you singling me out as “snide”. But it makes me feel good that you hold me in such high esteem that something so minor from me can elicit such a response from you.

You snuck that correction in while I was composing my response.

I guess I’m not so important afterall.

:smack: I seem to be doing very poorly in getting my intentions across. In the other thread, what I intended to be a “you might want to look at the context” post came across as a slam. My first post in this thread was intended to be a slam at Polycarp, not Joe_Cool. My second post in this thread was intended to indicate that the quality of Joe_Cool’s substantive post in this thread had made me think that both the tone and substance of my earlier post directed towards Polycarp were quite wrong (i.e. it was a complement directed towards Joe_Cool for unexpectedly deflecting my harsh criticism of someone I usually respect*).

FWIW Joe_Cool, on this iteration of this issue, I feel much closer to respectfully disagreeing with you than previously. And I regard you saying that you’re “sad for those who haven’t known the comfort and love that God can provide” (as opposed to *pitying * the unenlightened) as not merely inoffensive, but out-and-out good.

I’ll try to be clearer.

*[sub]Given the man’s reputation on these Boards, you’d think that was probably the lesson he was trying to teach me by not answering. Bastard.[/sub]

Thanks, hawthorne.

I don’t necessarily think Polycarp was trying to teach you a lesson, more that he just lets things blow by when they’re out of character - A tactic I’d probably do well to adopt.