A Reading Comprehension Experiment


I Want To Die
It was more than a little shocking to hear those words spoken aloud.

“I want to die.”

The pregnant pause afterwards confirmed that they were completely flabbergasted. No one had expected to hear that and the lack of protestation confirmed that they didn’t believe in the speaker’s sincerity.

Because you know that if they had taken it seriously there would have been an immediate response, they would have followed up on it, tried to ascertain what the problem was and how they could help.

At least that seems to be the obvious expectation, friends don’t sit there while you declare your readiness to end your corporeal existence. And if they do, well either you are a drama queen or you need to get new friends.

A cry for help is a cry for help. Silence is not the answer, but then again maybe it is. After all they say that people who are truly intent on committing suicide don’t really spell it out, they do it. They act upon their desires.

And the desire to kill one self can be far more powerful than anyone cares to admit or believe. When you don’t have a concrete reason to believe that there is anything after this it makes it much easier to see death as being a respite from the pain, a well-earned vacation.

“I want to die.”

It is one thing to think it, but once you verbalize it, actually speak the words it takes on new meaning. It becomes more real and you find yourself considering the various methods you can use to commit the deed.

Having a morbid sense of humor it is easy to see what the police would call it:

Homicide against yourself

C’mon now, you know that it is worth a chuckle. Ok, maybe not, but life is lacking, you’re not exactly burning up the fun meter. Sadness, depression, frustration and anger are different, you own those feelings, and you just know that somewhere there is a dictionary with your picture in it.

For a time there are the thoughts about what your loss would do to the family and the world. Suicide may not be as painless as advertised. You think about how the wife and kids will fare and wonder if your parents will feel responsible. It is almost enough to keep you from trying to pull the trigger. It is almost enough to prevent you from making that first cut, but the blistering pain and the empty, hollow feeling push those thoughts out of your head.

Now all you really want to do is find an escape from the madness. It doesn’t matter whether you are truly mentally ill or something else. The pain and misery make you spend much of the day doubled over, wishing you were comatose.

The light of the sun isn’t a pleasure, it is torture. Laughter and smiles from others torture your soul further. Your anger is fueled by seeing how others are happy and knowing that you can’t share in their happiness.

So the moment comes when you start to entertain the idea of letting go. You play around with ways and means, consider what your note will say, if anything. You can’t really explain it, so you don’t bother to do much.

A simple note that says “Elvis has left the building” will suffice. Or maybe it should read “will the last person to leave remember to turn out the lights.”

End of story; fade to black and utter silence.


Suicide is supposed to be painless and maybe if I believed it to be true I might consider it more seriously, but I don’t.

I don’t really want to die but I don’t have too many options. The man on the other end of that call isn’t going to let me stick around. I don’t care what promises he makes or whose life he swears upon.

He is lying and I know better.

I know it because I used to be him. The guys he works for are the same men I used to report to and they won’t ever forget what happened or let anyone else think I got over on them.

This can only go one of two ways and no matter how it goes death wins. That old bag of bones is going to get his quart of blood and then some.

It is just a matter of time before they force me out in the open or before I decide to take action.

All I can do is weigh the pros and cons and try to decide what gives me the best chance of making it out.

This isn’t like the movies. I won’t be able to go in guns blazing and kill all the bad guys. I can’t call my old army buddy, the one who managed to stay out of trouble and just so happens to a colonel who can call in an air strike.

All I can do is make them bleed and hope it is enough to make them go away. I suggested as much on the telephone and the new guy laughed.

Can’t say I was surprised because I would have laughed too. It is part posturing and part reality. One against a 100 isn’t ever something that works in real life, especially when they are willing to use your family against you.

I have seen hard men go soft. Unless they are a true sociopath they always give in.

The guys I used to work for learned from the Taliban. Make a man cook his kid and eat them and they will do what you want.

Sick and gruesome doesn’t describe it.


Sometimes death is preferable to facing this sort of decision, but I am too stubborn and maybe too stupid.

I called him back and told him I was coming to visit and then the doorbell rang.

They were here.

(Editor’s note: This is a work of fiction I wrote. It appears on my fiction blog and is called “I Want To Die. I am very curious to see how many people read all the way through. Those of you who are long time readers are aware that it is not unusual to find fiction here.

It is usually marked as such, but I often find comments and emails from people who miss the part where it says fiction. So I am curious today to see who notices and who doesn’t.)

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  1. zoe July 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Hey Jack, I know you wrote this piece of fiction some time ago but having the heart of a researcher I thought I should comment. Having read your other stuff I thought it fictitious way before I read the disclaimer. None the less I found myself pissed off throughout the read…I have so little tolerance for suicide, but usually have a ton for suicidality ( Im a shrink working in crisis) however this made me uptight…Im kinda surprised. Ironically I just read your most recent post about the MASH theme song and your Dad, work etc…maybe that is connected to my reaction in some way.

  2. Gina October 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I noticed. It is chilling especially if you have a close experience with someone that has actually followed through.

  3. Nate St. Pierre October 17, 2012 at 8:38 am

    If it helps your experiment, I read the title, then scrolled all the way to the bottom, saw your author’s note, and decided not to read the rest. So all I know is that it’s a fiction post about suicide, and nothing more. And that you’ll get people trying to help you. But probably not Gini. 😉

    • Jack October 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Hi Nate,

      It did and it does help my experiment. FWIW, there is much more to the story than that, but your comment does help.

      Not everyone took the time to read through it so I am receiving some “interesting” notes.

  4. Gini Dietrich October 17, 2012 at 4:57 am

    So is this fiction?! I kill me! LOL!

    I’m often amazed, as well, at who doesn’t read blog posts in their entirety and makes assumptions based on what they think you wrote.

    Also, the story gave me the chills.

    • Jack October 17, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Hi Gini,

      If the story didn’t give you the chills I would be forced to fly out and rescue Jack Bauer. ;)\

      I have to laugh at some of the responses I receive because otherwise I would cry. I have been guilty of misunderstanding a post because I didn’t read it carefully enough, but not with any sort of frequency.

      If something is worth reading than it is worth taking the time to understand what it is I have read.

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