Thursday, June 4, 2009

Apocarteresis and strangulation

Someone expressed disappointment that David Carradine killed himelf. I think there are circumstances under which suicide is honorable. My first choice would be apocarteresis, a word I hadn't known until I saw it in Suicide methods:
Starvation has been used by Hindu, Jain and Buddhist monks as a ritual method of suicide. Albigensians or Cathars also fasted after receiving the 'consolamentum' sacrament, in order to die while in a morally perfect state.

The explorer Thor Heyerdahl refused to eat or take medication for the last month of his life, after having been diagnosed with cancer.

A hunger strike may ultimately lead to death.
Carradine apparently chose strangling. It's possible he was afraid someone would find him and force-feed him. If ever I kill myself, strangling would be my second choice. (I had once thought I would try to get lost in the snow, but people don't simply "go to sleep" in the cold. Sometimes they take off their clothes, which suggests they feel like they're too hot.)

Possibly of interest: More Patients Choose Starvation Than Assisted Suicide - Health News Story - WFTV Orlando
"We were surprised that patients who chose this means to hasten death were, according to their nurses, more peaceful and suffered less in the last two weeks before death than patients who choose assisted suicide," Ganzini said.


  1. I've had too many beloved family members commit suicide to believe it's a good option. Intervention, treatment, compassion. Those are options for the family. As a society we should encourage one another to talk about what's bothering us--not intellectually but from the heart. Years ago when I was suffering from depression (and it is suffering), I finally decided to tell someone. A friend. I screwed up my courage and said, "I've been feeling depressed lately." She said, "I don't have time to be depressed." I felt as though I had been punched. I didn't mention my depression to anyone else. If I had been suicidal, that conversation could have been the nail in the proverbial coffin. That was the end of our "conversation" about depression.

    For family, suicide is so awful, worse than "just" an illness. There are always the questions: Why did they do it and why didn't we know they were in such pain? Illness is illness and it's not a failing and not something we should suck up and tolerate. It's just something that happens and we need our community so that we can heal from it.

    Also, I don't think they're sure he killed himself, are they?


  2. Kim, I definitely agree that no one should commit suicide without a great deal of thought and preparation, which includes consideration for friends and family--and strangers, too. I just don't think it should automatically be ruled out.

    And I am sorry your friend screwed up. This society needs to learn that depression happens, and "buck up" isn't an adequate answer.

    It does sound like we don't know all the details about Carradine's death. Even if the simple story is correct, killing yourself in a hotel room for a maid to find is not being responsible.

  3. How about taking an overdose of paracetamol combined with a half-bottle of single malt scotch? I'm a big fan of Scottish mystery writers (Ian Rankin et al) and that's a popular method of suicide in the books.

  4. I agree that sometimes suicide can be honorable.

  5. Jim, I haven't researched this all that much--I know there are more "good" options than I've mentioned. The reason I favor starvation is that it's slow, so there's time to change your mind and make sure everything is in order. High on the list of last thoughts I don't want to have is, "Damn, that was stupid."

    Making mental note to read Ian Rankin now....

  6. Apparently David Carradine didn't *really* kill himself. It is looking like he did a Michael Hutchence. . .

  7. Upon further reflection I guess that David Carradine *really* did kill himself but just didn't *really* intend to kill himself. OTOH It occurs to me that if a murderer wanted to hide the crime and humiliate their victim at the same time that making it look like auto-erotic asphyxiation gone wrong would be an effective way of do so. . . Hopefully the police will thoroughly investigate David Carradine's death with that possibility in mind.