I was lying on the table while Julia rubbed unscented oil all over my naked body. The phrase, “The Art of Suicide” appeared in my head. I thought it would be a good title for my blog but I didn’t know what to write after it. As the massage therapist rubbed me, I said to Schlomo,(not out loud), “Schlomo, what is the art of suicide?” Schlomo is my friend who recently killed himself. You can see his Yale Law School commencement speech to his class on YouTube. It was a great speech — funny, smart, self-deprecating. He beautifully made fun of the impotency of the American legal community.
As Julia rubbed unscented oil on my naked body, I had the following conversation with my friend, after he killed himself.
ME: Schlomo, What is the art of suicide?
SCHLOMO: The art of suicide is to know that it’s not wrong to kill yourself. I know that now that I’m dead. If I had known this before I died, I wouldn’t have killed myself because I wouldn’t have been so ashamed and I would have talked about it.
ME: OK Schlomo, but what does this have to do with me?
SCHLOMO: You are worried that when you go home, everyone will quit.
(Note: I have a team of people who play with my autistic son at our house. I train them and pay them to help my son grow. At the time of this conversation with Schlomo, I was on vacation. For several years up to that point, every time I went out of town, someone would quit. Usually, I would be having a relaxing time somewhere beautiful, I’d check my email, and one of my emails would be someone who plays with my son quitting.)
Schlomo continued, “You’re scared that everyone will quit and you’ll have no one to take care of your son and you’ll get really depressed and kill yourself. So, now you know, if you get really depressed and kill yourself, that would be OK. It’s obvious when you are dead that suicide isn’t right or wrong, it just is–like anything else. We all know that up here. So, you won’t be so afraid if everybody quits and you won’t be so tense. You can relax around them and then they’ll be freer and more creative with your kid and he’ll recover faster. It’s not wrong if you wanted to kill yourself, even if you did it. It’s fine.”
I cried on the table and asked Julia for a tissue.
Not judging suicide has really helped me be a better manager. I came home being lighter, freer, clearer and much more effective with my team. My son is flying! Thank you, Schlomo.
(2nd Note: If you’re freaking out now and thinking, “No! If you say suicide isn’t wrong, everyone will go and kill themselves, including you.” I believe it’s the opposite. When I don’t judge killing myself as wrong, I’m less likely to kill myself. When I’m not judging myself, I make clearer and more conscious choices and I’m happier. So, if I have suicidal thoughts and I don’t judge that, I can notice it and choose to let it go. I can choose not to do something, without thinking it’s wrong. I don’t want to go to Canada, but I don’t think it’s wrong to go to Canada.)