5/10/13

Falling, A History by Garrett Soden

It's a moment that isn't present in other kinds of suicide. Shooting yourself, for example, doesn't have any time between the act and its result. Pull the trigger and you receive the shot. With an overdose there is an unknown gap: time, perhaps, to be discovered; time for a doctor to be called, a stomach pumped; or time for death to come as sleep. But when someone chooses to take a lethal jump, falling's inherent dramatic structure—the leap, the fall, the impact—turns their death into a three-act tragedy. It is the dark version of the story presented by gravity daredevils who conquer nature in the second act to land safely for a triumphant third-act resolution. For suicide victims, the second act functions as it does in any tragedy: it reveals that the victim's moral failure will lead to a horrible end—and that nothing can be done to stop it. What's more, its meaning betrays the promise of progress, by featuring a protagonist who willingly submits to nature's power to kill.