Suicide is the ultimate symptom of mental illness. It is called “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” However, what exactly is this “temporary problem”? I once attended an upstart church here at my hometown in Northwest Georgia where I heard a pastor preach on suicide. He was fiery in his polemic as he exclaimed his words with passion, asking, “Would you want to leave your family and friends in grief because you were a coward?!” His words thundered throughout the auditorium and into the ears of the congregation.
Cowardice? Is it cowardice that leads a man to end his life? According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 44,193 people commit suicide each year in the United States alone. Suicide is not a result of cowardice, but rather an epidemic of hopelessness. The coward doesn’t hang a noose; the coward doesn’t swallow a whole bottle of pills; the coward doesn’t put a gun to his head and pull the trigger. No, the coward does not do these things, but the hopeless man does. The hopeless man is one who sees no way out; he sees no answer for his despair; he sees through gray lenses. The hopeless man seeks rest, and, pushed daily by the weight of his darkness, finally decides that he has had enough. The loss of hope is a heavy vest around his torso, and he walks slowly. It is a voice that desires an end to his pain, and, pushed to the precipice, he wants to go to sleep. Hopelessness is the culprit of suicide. It is not cowardice nor selfishness; no, it is despair. That brings me to my reasoning for writing this article: to ask a question. What, exactly, does it mean to be “hopeless?” Furthermore, what is hope? Unquestionably, to be hope-less implies that one does not have hope. What then is hope? To hope one must hold to the faith that the future is favorable. One does not project hope onto an unfavorable probability, that is as long the unfavorable probability is somewhat favorable to them. One hopes he/she will receive a promotion; one hopes he/she gets accepted by his/her desired university; a child hopes Santa Claus will bring his/her choice of a video game. Hope is only existent in foresight, and hope correlates with faith. Hope is an expectation or desire for a favorable outcome. Hope is always for something favorable. Even when one hopes something bad will happen to someone else, one could say that unfavorable outcome to said person would bring a favorable effect to the one who hoped it would happen. They receive the favorable outcome in that their hope was realized. Humanity hopes; and hope itself is the aspiration to the favorable imminent. You cannot hope for something you do not wish to take place. To do so would no longer be hope, but rather it would be dread. So, therefore, what does it mean to be hopeless? The hopeless man cannot see favorability in his foresight. To be hopeless is to be unable to see a favorable imminent. The hopeless man has no projection of positivity in his foresight. It is this that leads a man to suicide. Why would a man with hope end his life and thus forfeit the probability of his positive prospects being realized? Suicide is a result of a jaded perception. Inside of his head, he is subject to his darkness: his failures, mistakes, shortcomings. The way he sees it is that nothing will get better. Instead, he perceives a future of grim and inescapable pain. Without hope, he writhes in agony. He thinks himself a laughingstock, unable to see the full picture; he is blind to the good of the world. The hopeless man becomes cynical. Cynicism may lead to depression, depression may lead to utter hopelessness, and when all hope is gone, suicide is an ultimate outcome.
So what does the hopeless man see through his eldritch eyes? Even the afterlife becomes a gamble he will take. He does not know what his creator will say to him(if there is a creator, that is). He does not know if Hell awaits him or not, but he has a twisted faith that there is a possibility God will give him sympathy. If by chance death is annihilation, he holds to the idea of rest but weeps at the thought that his life was in vain. In the excruciating pain he experiences, the hopeless man will chance God himself to find any solace. He will leave his family and friends. The thought of his funeral hangs above his bed. Will his friends come? He laments their tears. He knows it is not the way, yet he is a cornered animal in that his pain will not cease. His mind is warped, and the tears of his loved ones justify his pain. He is not afraid of his pain, only desperate to escape it. With his last bit of strength, he musters up one hope. The hopeless man has one hope; he sees one favorable imminent. He sees death, and death calls to him. Death offers to take his burden, but at the sake of taking his life. He sees no hope other than the hope of his end. Given that he only sees the answer in his ultimate end, the takes the Reaper’s hand, and his body goes cold.
William F. Burk
Award-winning author of fantasy, flash fiction, and poetry. Author of "The Heart of Hearts," a debut fantasy novel. Always writing, forever and ever.