SUICIDE: A Sad End to a Beautiful Life
“Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes….”
That is the first line in the stanza of a billboard music “Suicide is Painless” which hit the top during the 70s, sang and popularized by music-duo and songwriters Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. The song is based on the poem Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson.
In the poem, Richard Cory was the envy of all who encountered him. Everyone thought he had it all. They saw his money, felt his power, knew his intelligence and never once did they doubt his happiness. They looked upon him as more than mere man, and they desired to be looked upon in that way, too. They assumed that living like Richard Cory would bring elusive happiness. The poem indicates that everyone kept their distance. Richard Cory lead an unbearably lonely life. His money did not buy happiness nor did it bring him friends.
Both the song and the poem tell of Richard Cory’s ultimate suicide; however, the song ends slightly differently, declaring in the final chorus that even after his death, the people wanted to be like Richard Cory.
Among giants in literature, we are also reminded of Ernest Hemingway who committed suicide after having received all the accolades for being a brilliant novelist during his time. Songwriter and singer Del Shannon who sang the number one hit song “Runaway” in 1961 also decided his time is up after a few years of depression.
Political leader Adolf Hitler sensing his defeat shot himself along with his long time mistress before the Allied Forces crushed his Axis power during World War II. Holywood actress Marilyn Monroe, fearing that age would deform her look, likewise took an overdose in drug rendering her instant death. Famous artist Vincent Van Gogh decided to end the misery of having to live with his misunderstood paintings.
In ancient times, Cleopatra decided to end her life after learning that her beloved Mark Anthony committed suicide, this on the basis that he was misinformed on the death of Cleopatra earlier on.
Suicide is also cultural. In Japan, when honor is besmirched, the only honourable way to escape is committing seppuku. (Seppuku is “stomach-cutting”; it is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment, originally reserved only for samurai. Another form of seppuku is hara-kiri.)
For westerners, depression or loss of face is enough to goad them into fits of violence and eventually towards self destruction.
For the Chinese, especially those drawn into gambling if confronted with serial losses would rather jump from atop the building to their instant death.
To a Filipino on the other hand, honor and losses can still be contained. But what will make him forget life is when he no longer sees love in the context of living. That makes the Filipino a truly romantic figure in a world reconfigured with objectivity and indifference.