Is there ever a time where you think people have the right to choose to die?
I live in an area of Portland, Oregon a few blocks away from a stunningly beautiful bridge that spans what was once a deep river hollow below… in fact it is this very hollow that gives the name to the neighborhood where I live… Goose Hollow.
Recently again however, several people this summer have chosen to take their lives by jumping off this bridge: X This has stirred up quite a controversy in our community as to how to best encourage suicide prevention. As you can see from the link of bridge pictures, over the past few days people have been writing messages with chalk all over this bridge in an effort to reach out to anyone else who would go there with the intent to end their life.
These recent events have lead me to begin asking myself questions again like:
- What mundane things was I busy doing at my home just those few blocks away that kept me from being in tune and available as a tool for the universe, not inspired to walk out at that very moment, not being then placed in a position to help someone else in their profound moment of overwhelming pain?
- Is there just a set time for us to die no matter what anyone does -or with enough enlightenment, can we and are we all ever able to be used as direct source points to intervene with what could be considered someones free will? -or with suicide, does an idea of free will not come into it at all?
- Should suicide always been seen as a result of some form of “mental illness”?
- If I were to take a piece of that chalk in hand in an attempt to try to help someone else return to a place of wanting to go on living in this physical form by leaving a message on that bridge, just what would I write?
What would you write?
How do you answer these types of questions?
What do we really think would help if one ever found themselves in the position of actively wanting out of here through death? (The story shared of my turn dancing with being offered a passive ticket off the earth ride through dying, and the cat that helped me make the choice to stay here, can be found here: X )
These questions begin bringing up deep issues related to the idea of the sacredness of life and a human being’s right to ever make a choice to end their own. And the using of a bridge as a means to this end in particular, is an area that hits quite close to home for me, too. Besides being present in person for therapeutic intakes at the ER after stomach pumpings for several people back in my days of working as a professional therapist, I also know a man, who although I never met in person, is one who indirectly shared some incredible, deep wisdom with me before choosing to end his life a few years ago by jumping off a bridge.
“Dana prajna paramita.” -teaching in Zen Buddhism
giving of ones wisdom to help bridge and cross over to another shore of life
What can the living remember by asking these types of questions and by taking an honest looking at dying?
What can be learned through experiences like using bowing and those found in the stunningly beautiful and powerful presence felt within the Japanese tea ceremony (which was created by a man who ultimately performed it one last time before ritually committing suicide in 1591):
I find I am also left asking myself more questions like: how can I live honoring life while still being willing to stand as a witness within the profound pain found in it’s living? Deep pain as is seen and felt leading some to the taking of that life… pain like that of a terribly lonely man named Gene, -the man with long, curly, dark hair (reminding me much of my own) seen as it blew free and unruly in the breeze as he stood contemplating _???_ in the moments just before he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge:
(There were absolutely profoundly aching moments for me while watching this documentary for the first … times when I wanted to scream out loud and longed to be able to reach through the screen to help prevent what I was seeing from happening. I will link the interview the with filmmaker in the comments to help understand what his intent with the documentary was)
At the end of the day, I am left with so many more questions which when I attempt to answer them, just lead to other questions.
I will close this post however, with a share of one person’s answer of truth in chalk. I did not write this, but found it already written on the bridge during a walk out with my husband in our neighborhood yesterday. It is definitely a true answer that once worked to help me:
I don’t pretend to remember and know many other answers, but I am willing to continue to stay here on earth and to bow deeply into feeling the pain found as I am willing to share the feelings of the loss and loneliness, confusion and the sorrow and despair of those standing still looking over the edge. I will bow and bow and bow and witness with them until even with calluses on my forehead, still being as present here as I can be, fully I remember what we all already know.