My Alternate Timeline Suicide
On December 23rd, Joe Bodolai, known as a former Kids In The Hall and SNL writer, posted his suicide note online, a lengthy and funny summary on his life, his regrets, and what he’s proud of. A love note to the people who cared for him.
“I need to feel the good that I did and whatever good I have ever done for you is enough for me. May you all have the happy lives you deserve. Thank you all for being in my life.”
The whole thing can be found here: http://qualityshows.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/if-this-were-y0ur-last-day-alive-what-would-you-do/ .
Suicide is a hard topic, particularly for me. I have been blessed in my life that, thus far, no one close to me has died. A couple of elderly relatives have passed on, but I had honestly only ever seen them less than a half-dozen times in my life. So death and me, we have yet to butt heads. Which will be an interesting, powerful, and potentially destructive spiritual battle when that occurs. But I know to count my blessings.
Allow me to set the scene. I am a ten year old boy entering church on Sunday morning with my family. I am miserable. Daily. My family are great, but I spend every recess wandering the lot alone, planning escape route scenarios in case that kid decides to pick a fight with me, or envisioning scenes of taunts and teasing. Occasionally imagining what it would be like to be popular.
I wasn’t actually bullied much. But in my head, I felt like the schoolyard, the world, was a hostile force surrounding me, judging me. And I knew, in my heart, that when the inevitable confrontation came… I was a coward. I would run.
So there I am, sitting in church beside my mother. The pastor begins the community prayer. We all bow our heads and close our eyes. He begins, thanking God for all that we have, then opens the prayer to the congregation. An elderly woman stands up and asks for healing for her friend who is in the hospital with cancer. A man stands up and asks for prayer for his wife. I fold over further, burying my face into my hands, between my knees, crush my eyes closed even harder, deciding whether or not to stand up on my chair and ask the community to pray for me. To help me. Tears.
I didn’t stand up. But I did beg God to help me. To change me. To help me change myself into a person I could stand. To stop being such a coward. Wimp. Utterly introverted. To stop being miserable.
That was my moment of transformation. I took stock of who I was and decided I didn’t lke that person. And from then on, I have looked for ways to improve myself, from running to Late French Immersion (and thus, a different elementary school), to – on my first day of late french immersion in grade six – the brave decision to go up to the other boy with no one to talk to and start a conversation. Took all my muster. Became my best friend for two years. To joining rugby in grade eight. To diving headfirst into theatre and other avenues to find an extroverted nature (which I admittedly took too far in high school).
What does this have to do with suicide? Because if I hadn’t had God there, if I hadn’t had a wonderful family, if I HAD been bullied more… without that one moment in my life, I could easily have seen myself, a few more years down the line, as a 14-year-old suicide. Certainly within the realm of possibility. If there are alternate timelines, then there’s at least one of them out there without me in it anymore.
One of the biggest reasons I joined Peer Helping was because the POSSIBILITY existed that I might be able to help someone step away from the edge.
Now, I’m not saying people should be denied that free will decision to end their life in situations of great, increasing, and unending physical pain. But emotional pain… can be overcome. Can be conquered. It can get better. The world is a bounteous and beautiful place and we have so many opportunities to make it better for the people around us.
At the tail end of my time at UVic, I made a movement piece on the subject, approaching one of suicide’s darkest corners – someone who feels they are destroying their loved ones around them. Who feels their death will better the world for not having them in it.
Some more part of my inspiration for building that piece came from this audio clip – the last message someone left before ending their life:
Makes me quiver, tear up every time.
In this timeline, in this life, I am so very grateful that I am surrounded by so many marvelous and wonderful people. So glad that I feel deep down that I can be a positive force in this world.
So hopeful that you feel the same.
- Joe Bodolai’s regret-filled suicide note goes viral (thestar.com)
- Friends ‘Not Surprised’ By ‘SNL’ Writer’s Suicide, Tributes Roll In (huffingtonpost.com)
- Former ‘SNL’ Writer Dies In Apparent Suicide (huffingtonpost.com)
- Former SNL Writer Joe Bodolai Dead of Apparent Suicide (seattlepi.com)
- Joe Bodalai dies at 63 (variety.com)