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Suicide As A Success Pattern

Since I was a kid, I’ve had an on-and-off 1, morbid, intellectual fascination with suicide. I can remember being about seven years old, and asking an adult, probably one of my sisters, something along the lines of: “is it possible to kill yourself?”, and she went “yes, it’s called incest I mean suicide”.

And it really weirded me out. Not just her Freudian slip of an answer, but the very idea, that you could do something like that to yourself — because it’s not like you can give birth to yourself, right? It’s so computer sciencey. Like counting from 0. It’s like scoring an own-goal in soccer.

So I was reading about suicide again recently, and apparently (get this): people who attempt suicide multiple times are more successful. People who make more attempts are more likely to succeed.

If you think about it, that’s really inspiring.

Because it means that, ironically, even suicide, perhaps the greatest expression of sadness and despair possible, requires a positive, Babe Ruth homerun mindset. Even suicide requires you to keep showing up, keep learning, keep trying. It requires initiative and action — one doesn’t just sit around waiting for a Goth Prince Charming to “hook you up”. It requires research and trial and error to be pulled off successfully — indeed, apparently, most of the suicide methods commonly featured in movies and TV dramas are more likely to end in discomfort and injury than actual death.

People who are suicidal often have what are called ideations, where their thoughts are looping like a Shoutcast playlist, repeatedly imagining and role-playing the act, the prelude, the aftermath, in vivid detail.

Looked at this way, suicide starts to seem like drug addiction: It’s not failure. It’s success misdirected.

So, the moral of the story is: go snort cocaine and jump off a building, right?

No. The moral of the story is that…the world around us, and our own lives, are all filled with success patternskata, if you will. All that differs is the direction.

So you want to learn — get used to — a language, right? Well, you’ve already done that before. You’ve already got the blueprint. In fact, you’re living the blueprint. You’re a champ at learning and reinforcing English. And you even learn new words like “metrosexual” and “MCD” 😛 . All you need do is switch English with Japanese. Do your English thing, just do it in the direction of Japanese.

And you’re like “but I’m good at English now and I suck at Japanese”. OK, maybe. But you can learn one Japanese word, right? I mean, anyone, any idiot, even the most provincial, crimson-naped individual in the world, could learn one Japanese word, right? There. You’re done. There’s your pattern. All you do is repeat the process of learning one word — do whatever you did to learn that word to another word, and Bob’s your uncle, pretty soon, you’re fooling people on the phone.

Bob isn’t my uncle, but…whatever.

The American military, perhaps the world’s best, is so good at killing people that it even kills its own people from time to time. It’s called friendly fire. Friendly fire happens because bullets work on whatever they’re directed at.

Similarly, environments, habits, associations (friends), ideation, imagination, initiative, repetition and persistence work on whatever they’re directed at. Whether you’re trying to kill yourself 2, enrich yourself, bed someone’s mom (perhaps your own, I don’t know; I don’t want to be judgmental here), or just make sounds with your throat 3 and symbols with your hands — i.e. use a human language.

Bullets work on whatever they’re directed at. Wherever we point our bullets is where they will go. Even with imperfect aim, with enough bulllets, we will eventually hit whatever we shoot at.

You are successful. You are a success. You are bloody marvellous 4. Already. At something. In some direction, your bullets are firing like gangbusters 5. And maybe it’s friendly fire, maybe you’re shooting at yourself, but bullets are still bullets, yo: they’re your bullets and you made them and they work, and in a twisted way, that’s always something to be proud of.

When I watch an HBO show and see, say, a crack addict, because all HBO shows have a crack addict, I don’t see a failure. I see a driven person. It’s just that she drove the wrong way. If she pounded kanji the way she pounds that crack cocaine…

Maybe you’re a successful couch potato, like me. Or a successful email checker, like me. Or a successful mom-joke-maker, like me. Any way you cut it, you have the pattern and the password. You already have the magic cookie cutter. All you need to do is aim that cutter in a new direction, and use it to cut some different dough.

Some Japanese dough.

“He that shoots oft at last shall hit the mark.”

PS: Stay alive 😛 .


  1. mostly on
  2. Arguably the friendliest form of friendly fire…wait, was that in poor taste? Yeah? No? Too soon?
  3. (hehehe…throat)
  4. Kung-Fu: The Legend Continues. Anyone? Anyone?
  5. That…doesn’t make any freaking sense

  8 comments for “Suicide As A Success Pattern

  1. CHoPSTiX
    April 8, 2012 at 05:09

    That’s a very optimistic way of putting…
    Especially: “The US army is so good at killing it kills it’s own soldiers sometimes”
    I guess the main part is just keeping the passion for learning the language the way people say, have a passion for trying to commit suicide, among other things.

  2. Sukixrose
    April 8, 2012 at 17:13

    Thank you very much for writing a big long post. I have been struggling to move my ass and learn Japanese, and this has inspired me. I just need to take one step at a time, and eventually I’ll have climbed the stairs to fluency 😀

  3. Spezial K
    April 10, 2012 at 16:04

    So inspiring! Can I get a citation for “people who attempt suicide multiple times are more successful“???

  4. LC
    April 11, 2012 at 00:15

    Thanks khatz, just what i needed. Feeling really burnt out after hitting the 900 kanji mark, the first 500 or so I had a 95% recall rate, but on the new ones i’m getting less than 50% and Im just getting a bit annoyed i guess.

  5. April 11, 2012 at 05:43

    Heavens to Betsy, this was a disturbing post!

  6. anonymous
    April 13, 2012 at 04:41

    I can see how this could possibly be inspiring for people who haven’t attempted suicide, but as someone who has, I can’t say this was exactly comforting… (;゚Д゚)

    “…[E]ven suicide, perhaps the greatest expression of sadness and despair possible, requires a positive, Babe Ruth homerun mindset. ”  ← I’m not sure that’s how it works, khatz…

  7. blorrwst
    April 23, 2012 at 12:33

    [E]ven suicide, perhaps the greatest expression of sadness and despair possible, requires a positive, Babe Ruth homerun mindset.

    Not always. The original latin apparently means – self-kill. So to run into a brick wall at 90 while under the influence is suicide. Falling off a ladder whilst cleaning the drains is suicide. Forgetting to remove all the bullets before seeing if you’ve fixed the trigger problem whilst scratching your head with the barrel is suicide. I shall stop here.

    Though, not all suicides are expressions of despair. Believe it or not some folks just are not interested in living. They just don’t like or “get” life. Sort of like walking out on a movie. I think suicides have been greatly misrepresented and maligned by the “other side”. Sometimes it takes more guts, maturity, depth and love for life and self to take the initiative rather than cling to breath no matter what. But, to each his/her own. 

    Good point though. No one will ever match the success a suicide reaches. 

  8. Rovkir
    August 30, 2014 at 10:01

    Not the greatest analogy ever, but you’ve got a point.

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