History of the Suicide Notes Part 2
About the history of the suicide note, examples of the different varieties, the use of the notes as insights into the psychology of the suicide.
Good-bye, Cruel World, or: Notes on the Suicide Note. . .
Notes are found in many forms. A few have been printed with lipstick on a mirror. Others are typed cleanly. Some are scrawled hurriedly with chalk, pencil, stick--often whatever comes to hand easily is used. Even blood if a gory suicide has had time to linger and realizes he's forgotten the obligatory note.
Does suicide reduce itself to a question of personal success or failure? Not really. For one 50-year-old Hollywood actor, the road back to the top was too long and too hard to travel.
I tried so hard to make a comeback.
(Exit, Act III)
But on the other hand, Ralph Barton, a successful satiric writer in 1931, wrote that he was doing it because he was fed up with inventing devices ". . . for getting through 24 hours of every day. . . " He added that his remains should be left to "any medical school that fancies them, or soap can be made of them. In them I haven't the slightest interest except that I want them to cause as little bother as possible."
Nor is making money the key to a happy life. A prominent banker once left a note consisting of a long list of instructions, including: "Sorry to be a nuisance this way. Call [and he named his choice of undertakers]."
Many suicide notes simply describe the sensations of the approaching death, such as the note left by a British physician who had taken a slow-acting poison: "Waiting. Feeling very happy. First time I ever felt without worry, as if I were free. My heart must be strong. It won't give up. . . . Pulse running well. Feel fine--when will it be over?"
And a note written by a man who had sent halfway around the world for his suicide weapon, a black widow spider, reported: "I feel the effects now. The room is going around and around. I can barely see what I'm writing. Maybe it is the end. Who knows? I don't care. It is very pleasant. Yes. No."
A former soldier described the effects as he succumbed to carbon monoxide, writing: "Terrific smell of gas fumes . . . It would be 6:34 civilian time. . . . Eyes smart a bit. . . Afraid somebody will come by now. . . This is slow. 6:36 P.M. . . . Engine sounds smooth. Faculties temporarily sharpened. . . . No particular desire to get out. . . . Seems to be getting the better of me fast. . . . It's been just 15 minutes now. . . . Seems to be terrific pressure 1st . . . going . . . go . . . go. . . ."
One woman left 3 notes: "There is nothing mysterious about this," read the 1st. "I'm doing this of my free will." The 2nd read: "I am taking whiskey. It makes it easier." And the 3rd added: "It's harder than I thought."
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