Cobain's 1994 suicide shocked the rock world.
In chatting with my good friends at Blog Catalog, the powerful question was posed: Is it morally wrong to commit suicide? This is a tender subject for many of us, and fragile from a religious perspective because so many believe that hell awaits suicide victims.
No, suicide is not morally wrong. In the end, the only freedom we really have as humans is to take our own lives. We are thrust into existence and consciousness with no say in the matter. We have to be alive, forced to exist - the remedy to that gift and curse is suicide. The only true philosophical choice we can make is to continue or cease to exist.
I contend that every individual has the moral freedom to elect to live or die. It is their life, their body, and their choice to continue or not. I see it as an important human freedom: I can choose to exist. Who has the right to take that choice from me? What more fundamental right do I have than to manage my own existence? If I don't have the liberty to end my existence then I have no freedom at all. My body and life are slaves to morality or the law.
If I kill myself, and people claim it morally wrong, they are forcing their morality on me, condemning me as if they were a god. Life is the most powerful choice I have, and I refuse to allow someone else's morality to impede my freedom.
I am not callous nor suicidal. The tragedy of an individual putting an end to such a fragile, amazing existence - life that took millions of years to evolve - saddens me to the core. I have a collection of photos on my computer of my favorite people, who have taken their own life, or basically done so (drug overdoses).
I seriously mourn and cherish these people, some of them famous. People I didn't even know cause me to mourn. I grieve for them, and the universe seems disturbed fundamentally with their absence. I imagine them, David Foster Wallace in particular, in their last moments of breathing, and I am disturbed by the darkness and horror they felt. No one can possibly be more alone than in that moment.
I feel for them, and I fear that black. I know it lurks inside of my neural pathways, and I've felt it, pushed the black back down. It frightens me that I so firmly believe in the freedom to end my life. But it also provides me solace. The knowledge that if I come to the point where existence can only be pain, that I have a choice, empowers me. I grip that freedom tightly while suppressing the primal urge to express it.
I love the lyrics of a song written by Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) shortly after Kurt Cobain killed himself called "Immortality."
Vacate is the word...vengeance has no place on me or her
Some of the word juxtapositions are just beautifully tragic, and the tortured voice of Vedder overwhelms me.
It feels good to talk about this with serious, sentimental, and passionate people. A kind of catharsis, healing. I encourage you to maintain strong relationships with people who need you. You can make the difference in whether a person decides to end it or not.
Whatever you do, don't disgrace the memory of the individual because of an act that he or she felt compelled to do. Hesitate before you judge and condemn some of the most remarkable people to have lived. Remember the good that they left behind