It Might Not Get Better….But Don’t Leave Just Yet

When I worked for the police department in police records, I was shocked by many things, but nothing shocked me more than the amount of suicide reports I encountered. There was one about every other day and I was one of six people processing the reports. And this was just for Tacoma, Lakewood and Pierce County.

Many of the reports contained notes written by the person who committed or attempted to commit suicide. The first one I encountered was written by a 13-year-old boy. He lived in unincorporated Pierce County. He rode his bike up a trail in the woods, wrote a note and shot himself with his dad’s pistol. The note said how he’d never be cool enough or smart enough and he’d never be anything he or anyone else wanted him to be and that he just couldn’t live not fulfilling these ideas of what he felt he was supposed to be.

I cried a lot that day. I thought how if only I could have talked to that kid. Maybe I could have said something. Of course that’s probably naïve or arrogant of me. Whatever the case, over the two years that I worked there, I got used to the suicides. I learned that the longer the note, the more likely the suicide attempt would fail. I learned that some suicides weren’t just people giving up, but people deliberately trying to hurt people by their passing. I learned that it almost never works out the way they expect it to.

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about cyber-bullying. There’s the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, mostly targeted towards gay and lesbian teens. I like the idea of it for the most part, though few of us are going to end up being rich and famous regardless of how long we live. For most of the people in those campaigns, it didn’t get better. It got fucking amazing. But it’s made me think what I’ve thought about since the day I read that 13-year-old’s suicide note. What would I say to someone who was thinking of killing themselves?

So here it is:

I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t know what you’re going through. And I don’t know that it will get better. Things might even get worse. That may not be the best thing to hear right now, but it’s true. When life sucks, it tends to suck a lot. So let’s get that out there right now.

The other thing I’m going to say that a lot of people wouldn’t say is that you have absolutely every right to kill yourself if you really want to. We don’t get to choose how we come into this world. I think it’s fair to let us choose how to go out. However, just because you have the right, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve known people who’ve killed themselves and people who’ve tried to kill themselves. And every single one of them was someone unlike anyone else I’ve ever met. I don’t think that’s coincidence. I think that the freaks, the geeks, and the nerds are far more likely to consider suicide because they are far more likely to consider anything. You are the people who come up with the ideas no one else can think of. You’re a valuable piece of the world. And while it might not seem like it right now, we need you.

More importantly, we need you here because there are a lot of people and I mean a LOT who aren’t like you. They don’t think much. They don’t really do anything different than anyone else. And if you’ve ever felt like fighting for anything in your life, then you know that you simply cannot let these people win. And they can’t possibly win while you’re alive.

There are things in this world that you haven’t done yet. And I’m not talking about a bucket list. I’m talking about life experiences you can’t plan and never expect. I’m talking about your entire world changing in the space of a few hours.

I’m 36 years old as I write this. I’ve been married twice. I’m a father. I’m a published author. I’ve been to the other side of the planet. I’ve done things I thought only happened in movies. But long before all of these things happened, I sat in my parent’s living room with a gun in my mouth. I may not know what you’re going through, but I understand the urge to end things.

You are not a burden. You are a person. You are not doing anyone a favor by checking out. It might not seem like it right now, but this isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.

You don’t know what’s coming for you. It may get better. It may get worse. But I promise you, it won’t be all bad. And some of it is going to be more amazing than you can possibly imagine right now. You aren’t normal and that’s a really good thing. Stay weird. Stick around. It’s the one thing you can do that will drive all the right people nuts.

–          Jack Cameron

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I Want To Believe…But I Don’t

I’ve got a pretty good immune system, but a few weeks ago I was very sick. I had this bad cough that simply wouldn’t go away and wouldn’t let me sleep. After the third day of no sleep, I began to freak out a bit. And I realized that the last time I felt this terrible, I believed in God.

I knew I wasn’t dying, but I had the realization that being really sick when you don’t believe in God really sucks. There isn’t anyone to pray to. And there’s no hope that you’re going to live on in some afterlife. There is just the feeling that the machine containing who you are is not working properly and that if it stops working, that’s it for you. There is a comfort in religion that atheism simply does not have.

I came to atheism slowly. First I doubted God’s perfection. A common question among believers is why bad things happen to good people. The answer seemed fairly simple to me. We were made in God’s image. We are no perfect and screw things up all the time. Therefore God is not perfect. Why do bad things happen to good people? God screws up.

This worked for a while. God wasn’t letting terrible things like rape and murder happen. He just wasn’t paying enough attention to do anything about it. One can argue all they want that God gave us free will and that the choices man makes causes all of the ills of the world from a drunk driver hitting a child to global warming, but if God is all knowing and all powerful, then he’s letting that happen. So either he was letting these things happen or he just wasn’t perfect enough to catch all these things. I chose the second one until I realized that there was a third more obvious and more likely choice. Maybe God wasn’t there at all.

If God wasn’t there, then there was no mystery why bad things happened to good people. Bad things happened because bad things happened. It also solved one of the biggest problems I had with God. If God existed, why did he hide? Sure, there were people who could say they saw God in the bloom of every flower and the beauty of every sunset, but if there’s a God, why doesn’t He have a phone number? Why doesn’t he talk back out loud when you pray? Why doesn’t He definitively tell everyone what the ‘right’ religion is? Why the game of blind faith? Because that’s what happens when something doesn’t exist.

As this thought continued to echo throughout my life, certain things began to bother me. It bothered me that Presidential candidates were all but required to say how they believe in God and pray for guidance. Personally, I didn’t want a leader who, when the chips are down, is on his knees praying. I want him leading. It bothered me that intelligent people who I loved and respected spent a good amount of time talking to a big man in the sky who wasn’t really there. It bothered me that it had taken me so long to realize just how little real evidence there was that any God existed at all.

However, what bothered me more than any of this was the fact that if there was no God, my existence was going to be the next fifty to seventy years at best. And then I would never exist again in any form that could really be called me. I am here for a while and then I will be GONE. Not only that, but the same is true for everyone I’ve ever known. We are all here to go. And even the greatest among us will likely be forgotten in the next few hundred years.

To me, such a colossal waste of humanity was the greatest tragedy possible. I think and feel and remember. I may not believe in a soul but I believe in who I am and I think it’s worth saving. I tried thinking back to my earliest memories. I tried thinking to before that. I wanted to try to remember what it was like before I was. And in that infinite nothing, I realized, that was all that was waiting for me when I die. I would just not be. I don’t think there’s any way to explain what a crime I feel this is.

I am jealous of believers and I hope they’re right. I really do. I’d prefer Hell to not existing. I want to be me and I want to be me as long as possible regardless of where that happens to be. There are those who I suppose would call me agnostic, but I’m not. I don’t wonder if there’s a God. I just hope that there is.

I’ve researched life extension possibilities. Cryonics, cybernetics, and other solutions aren’t at the point where they can do me any good. Maybe in a decade or two. And then such technology is probably reserved for the very rich. The odds aren’t good when it comes to living forever if you’re an atheist. And when I was on the floor of my house coughing like crazy, I couldn’t help but say, “God, this hurts.” But I wasn’t surprised when there was no response from the heavens.

Where Is Jack Cameron?

You may have noticed a distinct lack of posts on this site lately. I apologize for that. I’ve been a bit busy. I just finished converting Ruin Your Life for the Kindle. You can now buy it for 99 cents. I’m finishing up my novel, which you’ll be able to buy later this year. And I’ve spent a good deal of time getting TacomaStories.com up and running. But now that I’ve got all of that done, I may actually have a little time to get JackCameron.com back to where I want it to be.

Since I’m doing so much, I figured letting you know where you can find me online would probably be a good idea.

First off, any email should go to jackcameronis@gmail.com

You can find me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/jackcameron

You can buy Ruin Your Life for the Kindle at: http://www.amazon.com/Ruin-Your-Life-ebook/dp/B004Y74YSY

My Twitter is @jackcameron

You can read about all things Tacoma at: http://tacomastories.com 

Tacoma Stories also has at Twitter @tacomastories

And lastly, I have my comic book project where I’m reading every Marvel Universe comic book and writing about it. http://marvelreadinglist.wordpress.com/

Wow. When I put them all out there like that, no wonder I’m busy.

– Jack Cameron

Flip Flopping Isn’t A Bad Thing

I tend to follow politics like some people follow football. It’s a good spectator sport. But no matter how much fun it is watching it, I know I would never really want to play in the big leagues. Still, I find myself doing a bit of arm-chair quarterbacking. I see things and think, ‘Well why didn’t he just…” More often than not, I’m sure there’s some sort of reasonable explanation. However, there are some things that come up again and again and they seem to continue to be problems when there are obvious solutions.

One such thing is the concept of ‘flip flopping’. In 2004, you could hardly read an article about John Kerry without hearing how he was a flip flopper. He would say one thing then say something else. He once thought this and now he thinks that. And now with the 2008 Presidential race heating up, it’s coming up again and I don’t get it. Flip flopping isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength and I can’t figure out why no one in politics will say it.

If I were in any political race and someone called me a flip flopper, I’d have to say, “Yes, I said one thing and now I’m saying another. This is because I learned more information or the circumstances changed. And when that happened, I changed my mind. If I had not changed my mind, if I had stuck to a path simply because it was the first path I was on, then I would be repeating the same exact mistakes that led to our current situation in Iraq. I would be making mistakes simply to avoid being called a flip flopper. Personally, I’m not afraid of names and name calling. I’m afraid of people who refuse to look at new information or circumstances. I’m afraid of people who will stick to the wrong course simply because it is the course they are on. Yes, you can call me a flip flopper. I’ll wear that title proudly. But I also want to know, if those who call me a flip flopper have anything more than names to call me. Do they have anything of substance to contribute? Or is it just schoolyard name-calling? Because if that’s the best you can do to tear me down, I have no doubt that the voters will see it for the strength that it is. Thank You.”

Why doesn’t anyone in politics say this? Almost every negative thing thrown at any given candidate is based on a truth. And that truth is likely something that the candidate believes in and can defend. Why not take that negative comment and turn it into something positive? Why not turn it on it’s head? It’s not really all that difficult as long as you’re aware of what you believe in and why you believe it.

-Jack