Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Going Down. And Out.

Suicide is a serious problem in this country; indeed, it has become such a problem in the armed services that suicide prevention training is now mandatory for military and government civilian personnel*. For myself, I have to say I'm enjoying life too much to contemplate ending it before my allotted time, but there are some people who - for whatever reason - no longer wish to live. They may have an incurable, debilitating illness, have suffered some terrible humiliation from which they don't think they can recover, or have some other personal issue from which they see no exit other than the one that's most final.

Most people who want to commit suicide want it to be simple, quick, and painless**, but it's not necessarily so. Dorothy Parker wrote in her famous poem titled "Resumé" ...

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

This rather morbid topic was suggested to me when I read this article by Laura Secorun Palet in the Ozy online magazine: Roller Coaster of Death.

It seems that a Lithuanian engineer named Julijonas Urbonas, while a Ph.D. candidate in design interactions at the Royal College of Art in London, designed what he called a “Euthanasia Coaster,” a giant roller coaster that would run its passengers through a series of extreme drops and loops designed to create euphoria, and then kill them by cutting off oxygen to the brain. Here is a diagram of what the Roller Coaster of Death would look like ...

... and here is how the article says it would work:

"First the rider would face a long, slow climb up to more than 500 meters, giving him or her a few minutes to think back on life and contemplate the decision. At the top, there would be time to say a prayer or blow a kiss to relatives (or bail) before pressing the “fall” button and plummeting into the long steep plunge followed by the first 360-degree loop. That’s where most riders would die ... traveling at 100 meters per second, the person would experience a G-force-induced loss of consciousness due to cerebral hypoxia (lack of oxygen reaching the brain), which often causes a sense of euphoria. Just in case that first one didn’t do it, six more consecutive loops would finish the job."

Mr Rubonas's invention has not as yet attracted any commercial attention, and given societal attitudes toward assisted suicide, it probably won't, at least not any time soon. Moral and ethical issues aside, the cost of building such an enormous coaster (according to the article, it would be three times the height of the world's current highest roller coaster, which cost $25 million) would be prohibitive.

I must tell you in all candor that I didn't like roller coasters before I read this article, and now I like them even less. You go right ahead if you like ... I'll just take the pictures.

And don't consider suicide. I don't have that many readers, and I need you all.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Although not for contractors. Since most contracts don't include a charge number for suicide, we're not required to take the training.

** Contrary to what the song suggests.


Linda Kay said...

Not to worry about this reader, Bilbo...I love life too much, and besides I'm too chicken to induce any sort of pain on myself.

Banana Oil said...

What an odd concept. But it might become mainstream as suicide becomes more legally acceptable. What a neat song.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

What an awful invention! Dorothy Parker had a cynical, sick sense of humor. I'll pass on it.

Duckbutt said...

A great old song from a funny and cynical movie.

allenwoodhaven said...

I have often worked with suicidal people. The one thing in common they have is not having a sense of hope. Getting them to have that is the most important step. The best description I've heard is "Suicide is like throwing a hand grenade in a room full of people you care about." The aftermath of suicide is a terrible thing. Existential Psychology states that sometimes life is to be endured and the capacity for Joy is always present, even in the most dire circumstances. (Sorry if I pontificate too much, but this is my field so I have an opinion to share...)

Mike said...

I knew that was going to be the song from MASH.