Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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Fear and self-killing in Colorado

As a suicide survivor (Okay that term makes it seem like I tried to off myself rather than simply lived through my father's successful suicide, but that's not entirely untrue.) I think that I am usually disproportionately affected by news of suicide in our society. The clamor over the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson has been something of a mystery to me though. Did anyone NOT see this coming? This was a man who not only participated in virtually every self-destructive behavior known to man short of Republicanism and religion, but did them in public and wrote about them extensively. He titled more than one of his books Fear and Loathing. He lived in what he called a "Fortified compound." He was a provocateur and an experimenter, but actually to the extreme, not like those corporate constructed losers we have now who get picked up with a few grams of weed when they want a little extra attention. The only real surprise is that he didn't die sooner. As for why he killed himself, well, who the hell knows? It could very well have been the case that he didn't know what he was doing because he was in a chemically enhanced state of consciousness, or maybe his demons (read fear and loathing) got the best of him, or maybe he was just curious about experiencing the afterlife. I understand why people care about his death, in many ways he was a final relic of a bygone era when people had things to say and artists were out there uncorrupted by corporate America and living at 750 miles per hour. His shooting himself is about the least surprising thing since Chris Farley dying the way he did. There's a reason that certain behaviors are considered risky and warning signs for potential problems. Individuals think "It could never happen to me" (god knows I'm that way about my weight, which I desperately need to get down) but celebrity status does not confer protection from death. We can celebrate Thompson's work and his willingness to bare it all for our reading pleasure, but we should not be surprised at the cost.

If I ever off myself, which I don't think will happen but we'll see how I feel when I'm 45 and still trying to break into the entertainment industry, it shouldn't be a surprise either. According to psychological statistics I have about a %15 chance of taking my own life given my family history and other factors. That's a bigger chance than a baby in America has of being born African American. This sort of shit is GOING to happen to someone, and the fact that it happened to Thompson is about as surprising as learning that Jason Giambi took steroids. The real question is whether Hunter's fans and admirers encouraged his destructive behavior when, at some point, they should have been trying to get him some help. In Hunter's case I don't think it really would have mattered. He lived life only one way, and that was staring down the barrel of a metaphoric gun, be it a big dose of heroin, a bottle of vodka and the wheel of a car, or the literal aperture of a 12-gage. It was only a matter of time before one of those went off.
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