Back when I was living in the slug-infested flophouse, waiting on an appointment to get a PET scan, I researched how to kill oneself and found Final Exit. The book details several methods, including pills, slicing one’s wrists and others. But it only recommends one — plastic bag + helium. It’s quick, painless and, if done correctly, ensures death. So the book says.
This book isn’t obscure. You can buy it on Amazon. So I wondered why I had never heard of this method before, especially if it was as effective as the books says it is. In pop culture, potential suicides either take pills, shoot themselves, hang themselves or jump off buildings. They’re all very dramatic but all of them have the potential to fail.
So what’s wrong with the bag?
it’s creepy, for one. I tried on a couple bags for size, as the book suggested to practice before going through with self-delivery — its term for suicide for terminal patients. Even without the presence of deadly gas, the experience wasn’t pleasant. I decided, then, that I couldn’t do it. It made me feel panicky a little queasy, and for some reason my mind flashed back to one of the strongest images I remember of the time immediately following my mother’s death: Coming back to the house after her funeral, the floors were scattered with her empty shoes and slippers, tiny and old-lady feminine. They were the saddest things I’d ever seen in my life.
The bag is also a bad look. I imagined what I would look like when found — slumped down in the bed with a plastic bag that advertises Adidas — looking ridiculous, in other words. I wasn’t ready.
This past Sunday, I tested a few bags for holes and again put them over my head. I didn’t panic. I just worried that the one that was tall enough wasn’t wide enough. Other pressures had overridden my vanity and fears.
I’d gotten to the point of being mostly practical, taking a calm assessment before making a final choice, which, thanks to intervention, I didn’t have to make.