April 5, 2014

Commemorating a suicide.

There's a lot of that going around today, 20 years after Kurt Cobain killed himself.

This is worse than the annual commemoration of the murders of John Lennon and John Kennedy, since it's a self-murder. If you like someone who's now dead, how about choosing some other day to think about them, their birthday, perhaps? When we care enough to make a national holiday out of someone who got killed — note that we've never done that for a suicide — we pick the birthday (Lincoln's Birthday, Martin Luther King's Birthday), not the death day.

But we all know why death days get attention. To dwell on the death is our own self-absorption. Where was I when I heard that X died? How did I feel? How did it change my life? Just admit that's what you're doing, remember that's what you're doing, and when you're doing it with someone who killed himself, don't forget he did that to you. He did that to the teenaged kids who loved him, changing that music they loved to something that contained the meaning death, the meaning that life is not worth living.

And he had not only his music, but a baby daughter. I don't want to hear about the suicide note that complained about how he didn't enjoy going on stage and being adulated by fans. Quit performing! Devote your life to your daughter. Shooting yourself is your first choice? That's what you say to the kids who loved you (and to your daughter)?

38 comments:

Capt. Schmoe said...

Suicide, the ultimate fuck you.

Freder Frederson said...

I truly hope you have never had a friend or relative who has suffered through clinical depression. You demonstrate an absolute inability to comprehend that depression is a chronic, sometimes fatal, and often debilitating disease.

Ann Althouse said...

I truly hope you have never had a friend or relative who has suffered through debilitating anger and hate. You have an absolute inability to comprehend that hateful, uncontrolled anger is a disease that has sometimes fatal consequences.

Where is the compassion and understanding for the convicted murderers who are warehoused in prisons all over the world?

Capt. Schmoe said...

"I truly hope you have never had a friend or relative who has suffered through clinical depression. You demonstrate an absolute inability to comprehend that depression is a chronic, sometimes fatal, and often debilitating disease"

Yeah, well, having dealt with the aftermath countless times including picking up the pieces, cutting people down, stepping through their brains and seeing the devastation done to those left behind, it's a pretty big fuck you.

Ann Althouse said...

We expect those who would like to kill others to control themselves or we rain fury upon them.

To say, yeah, but it's so hard to control impulses when you feel so very strongly for so long. That kind of evidence is exactly what proves first degree murder when the target is another human being.

Why so much empathy for the suicide and so little for the person who kills others?

Ann Althouse said...

If the answer to my question is the suicide only hurts himself or the suicide packages murdering and administering the death penalty in one fell swoop, I say:

1. The suicide has many other victims.

2. I don't support the death penalty for murder.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Why don't you post more about Bob Dylan or somebody else from your geriatric self absorbed Boomer generation?

You know jack shit about Cobain.

William said...

The sorrows of young Werther. This has been going on for hundreds of years. Young people find early death, especially by one's own hand, romantic and seductive....I was never haunted by Cobain's death, but I was the right age to think of Jim Morrison as someone whose death seemed significant and glamorous. Break on through to the other side. Hardly. There's a guy who missed out on fifty years traveling by private jet and fooling around with super models. If you're going to do something grandiose and self indulgent, Mick Jagger is a far better role model than Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain.

MisterBuddwing said...

I don't want to hear about the suicide note that complained about how he didn't enjoy going on stage and being adulated by fans. Quit performing! Devote your life to your daughter. Shooting yourself is your first choice? That's what you say to the kids who loved you (and to your daughter)?

I think Cobain's suicide letter is worth noting for Courtney Love's enraged outbursts when she read it aloud to their fans:

http://gos.sbc.edu/l/love.html

Capt. Schmoe said...

In the court of moral standards, maybe intent can be applied to suicide just as it applied to homicide in the CJS?

Ann Althouse said...

"You know jack shit about Cobain."

What makes you think that? Are you inferring that from my refusal to sentimentalize suicide?

Reread the text of this post for clues about what I know.

I'll bet I went to more grunge-type concerts in the 90s than you did...

But you, despite having this blog to read, apparently know "jack shit" about me.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Sure Boomer, lecture Generation X about how into the grunge scene you were. Tell us more about how
the person who was in their mid 40s in 1995 really was in tune with the zeitgeist of the times.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sure Boomer, lecture Generation X about how into the grunge scene you were. Tell us more about how
the person who was in their mid 40s in 1995 really was in tune with the zeitgeist of the times."

I was the mother of boys born in 1981 and 1983. I was the one who drove groups of boys to concerts, sometimes in Milwaukee and stayed for the concert and drove them home. I was the parent who let the bands play — and play loud — in my basement. For years. I let them have MTV on all the time and was happy to listen to their music and talk about it with them. I enjoyed it a great deal.

I had parents who wanted me to listen to their music (big band) while they told me my music wasn't even music. I'm sorry we didn't appreciate each other's music.

As for my sons, I played my music for them when they were very young. I had the idea that some of the old rock and roll was kind of like children's music -- e.g., "Sittin' in La La" — and it went from there, mostly playing cassettes in the car.

They got a lot out of an era of music that they did not live through, and I got a lot out of an era of music that I would have skipped if they had not been around.

Ann Althouse said...

And speaking of enjoying things through your parents and through your children… look at that picture of Frances Bean.

madAsHell said...

Last week, the Seattle Police re-opened the evidence box from the Cobain suicide. They "found" a roll of film that had not been developed.

....do you remember developing film at the drug store??

The resulting photos were mostly duplicates of what we already know, but they did manage to attract the attention of some nutjob that claimed the new photos prove his murder conspiracy theory. He is pursuing a lawsuit against someone.

I'm more curious as to why some detective is wasting tax dollars reviewing a closed suicide case. Maybe they are promoting tourism...?? Did the request come from City Hall?? I'll guess yes!

Ann Althouse said...

I've even heard of people who go back and become intimately conversant with music written over a century before they were born. What is more absurd than those folks who listen to classical music?!

I once went to a Henry Rollins spoken-word performance where he impugned symphony orchestras because they are cover bands.

Xmas said...

I still think Courtney Love pulled the trigger.

Ann Althouse said...

I assume that when a person shoots himself in the head there's a great deal of evidence that it's suicide and not some murderer trying to make it look like suicide.

If you want to murder someone and make it look like suicide, I don't think shooting in the head would be your first choice.

Phil 3:14 said...

Gen X hatred of Boomers truly amazes.

Anonymous said...

Ann Althouse said...
I assume that when a person shoots himself in the head there's a great deal of evidence that it's suicide and not some murderer trying to make it look like suicide.

If you want to murder someone and make it look like suicide, I don't think shooting in the head would be your first choice.

4/5/14, 9:45 AM
--------------------------------

What body part would be your first choice?

Xmas said...

"I once went to a Henry Rollins spoken-word performance where he impugned symphony orchestras because they are cover bands."

Well, that's better than the live-sex show story he's told before.

I saw Henry Rollins doing spoken word in Johannesburg, he started off by rattling off the entire preamble of their constitution and then discussing how wonderful it was.

Nichevo said...

What would be your first choice?

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

They also kicked a guitar player out of the band because he was, perhaps moodily, self absorbed during road trips. This guy had also put in money that was critical to the production of a very successful early album. He never even got the money he put in back. There was an article about the guy, retired from Army Special Forces now, in the New Yorker, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Suicide: the Video Game.

The player must make a suicide plan, prepare for the suicide and write the note, all the while amassing despondency points.

If the method chosen is jumping from a building the amount of despondency points determines how high in the building you are when you jump. Not enough despondency points and you may only jump from the fifth floor, resulting in paralysis from a broken neck but not succeeding in suicide. Landing on a pedestrian results in an unsuccessful suicide and despondency points are subtracted for killing an innocent bystander.

The amount of despondency points also determines the accuracy of the shooting when the chosen method of suicide is by gun. Not enough despondency points and you may only blow off your tongue and lower jaw.

If you succeed the game is over and you cannot play it again.

Ann Althouse said...

"What would be your first choice?"

I wouldn't choose it at all, but if we're talking about how Courtney would have killed Kurt (and gotten away with it), I don't think she'd have tried to shoot him at the kind of close range that she could have thought would be taken as suicide.

What would Courtney do? Drugs!

Ann Althouse said...

Or just hound him into killing himself. Say things to him.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

It was "here we are now, entertain us." It was not "here we are now, destroy our economic future so you can have lush retirements and we get the bill."

Fuck "the worst generation."

jimbino said...

Damn. I was just about to kill myself, but then I realized that I would be insulted forever on the Althouse blog.

cubanbob said...

If the answer to my question is the suicide only hurts himself or the suicide packages murdering and administering the death penalty in one fell swoop, I say:

1. The suicide has many other victims.

2. I don't support the death penalty for murder."

Context Ann. Context. In May of 1945 a number of Nazi's comitted suicide. I doubt that a lot of people at the time were angry at them for killing themselves unless they were angry at them because they were of the opportunity deprived of hanging them.

CatherineM said...

How much did his drug use factor into it. How clear was his mind when he made that choice. Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems most of the time.

I always think about that movie "the Bridge." The survivor of a suicide attempt of the Golden Gate (bipolar young man) said the moment he was airborne he said, "I don't want to die." He was lucky.

And yeah, I also think Courtney was a toxic person. I think most of the "Violet" was a Kurt song. She totally used him. Yet, I still think, you left your kid to live with a crazy woman.

Ann Althouse said...

"Context Ann. Context. In May of 1945 a number of Nazi's comitted suicide. I doubt that a lot of people at the time were angry at them for killing themselves unless they were angry at them because they were of the opportunity deprived of hanging them."

I guess you haven't read about the Nuremberg trials! There was a strong effort to prevent suicide before they could be hanged, and Hermann Wilhelm Goering managed to kill himself, despite these efforts, and people were angry about it. He evaded his punishment.

Ann Althouse said...

"Damn. I was just about to kill myself, but then I realized that I would be insulted forever on the Althouse blog."

That sounds funny, but how many suicides think: Everyone will feel sorry for me, or everyone will bear the burden of knowing how much they hurt me.

A Red Red Rose said...

This thread is all about suicide but I was interested in Ann's comment about celebrating death. The Catholic church, of which I'm a member, celebrates death all the time. Feast days of martyrs are routinely on the days of the martyrs' deaths. Death can be a sign of something more valuable than life, even for an atheist. For example, there would be no contradiction in an atheist honoring MLK's death, insofar as his death was a witness to something greater than simply staying alife.

jimbino said...

True Ann,

I can't begin to understand depression or suicide, though I've had meny friends who were depressed and some suicidal.

I think of John Nash, Hemingway, Mark Anthony and Phil Ochs, among others. Brilliant, all of them. Is suicide a sublime act of will or of desperation?

SGT Ted said...

I agree with Ann.

I used to give Cobain fans so much shit for sympathizing with his decision to off himself, given his resources and inability to control his own behavior.

I'd say to them:

What a fucking loser. Has a beautiful daughter, a fantastic fucking dream career that he could have retired from and been well off for the rest of his life and paid for Major League level Rehab and Mental Health help to get himself better. So what does he do? He eats a shotgun, instead.

Fuck him and all sympathy goes to his daughter and the other people that loved him.

William said...

I'm sympathetic to that 96 year old woman who jumped to her death recently. Her judgement that the world is a harsh cold place was further validated when a passerby threw her body into a dumpster. Many here will say that she should have persevered and point to the example of Bunny Mellon. Bunny claimed that she never knew completion as a woman until she felt the velvet touch of John Edwards on her 97th birthday. She claimed her most exciting and fulfilling years came in her late nineties. Well, good for her, but perhaps that poor woman who leapt to her death no longer had any passion for politics.

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