Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Suicide is man's way of telling God, "You can't fire me - I quit."

- Bill Maher

* * * *

Whoever he was, he was determined. All people who truly wish to end their lives should be so determined to do so, for the probable betterment for all concerned, in the long run. No more worrying about leaving razor blades lying around; no need to lock up the leftover prescription drugs; no more round rooms with padded walls. Removing shoelaces and belts would be a thing of the past if people with suicidal tendencies were so determined as was one someone who committed suicide at the border a few weeks ago.

Whoever he was, no one was going to stop him.

If any human being on this planet wished to end their life on it, there are thousands of ways to accomplish this task. I have no idea, should there be such a thing as an afterlife, if bonus points are awarded for suicidal creativity. Or gumption. Or even batting average. All I know is that motive, the one question that everyone asks after a suicide, is entirely irrelevant. Murder is tragic; suicide is whimsical, like an exclamation point after a sentence fragment. Even a random, senseless murder has motive, but suicide cannot – the killer leaves the recipe and takes his cake with him, never to be tasted by friends or family. In other words, while a suicide takes some amount of planning, the act itself is no different than tossing a coin into a well without first making a wish. The best thing that can happen is nothing at all. After that, no one can say for sure.

What could be more whimsical than suicide?

* * * *

In the thirteen years that I have lived here, countless accidental homicides have occurred in the wide traffic lanes approaching the San Ysidro border crossing in Tijuana. The stricken are mostly hawkers in the wrong place, unwitting victims to a hurried tourist in an automobile, someone trying to quickly cross into the United States of America. Or else, the same type of vehicle strikes some pedestrians who are forced to cross the vast highway formed by merging traffic into the border. Such deaths are always tragic, and people have been calling for some sort of a pedestrian bridge to be built there for as long as I can remember.

Last year, thirteen years later, construction began on such a pedestrian bridge. I have noticed the progress of this bridge almost daily, coming from where the yellow taxis park, the bridge spans the traffic lanes and comes to a winding pathway able to accommodate the wheelchair-bound using ramps. Construction was almost complete when, one morning a few weeks ago, I was walking to cross the border, bypassing the long pedestrian line on the right shoulder of the Northbound traffic lanes. I was forced to the extreme right by some yellow police tape, just before I reached the bridge.

There were small articles in both the San Diego Union-Tribune and in the local papers in Mexico the next day. Someone had approached the bridge and began to climb it, and was warned off of it by a Mexican female police officer. She chased him away and went back to whatever she was doing. A few minutes later, he was hanging by his neck from the bridge, silhouetting the twilight backdrop of the early morning commute into the United States of America.

Whoever he was.

The irrelevant issue, obviously, is that he wanted someone, some certain person during their morning commute, to see him hanging dead by the neck on their way to work that morning. Time must have been a factor, based on how it all occurred. After being chased away, it took no time at all for this person to climb back up onto the bridge. And, with no time taken to reevaluate his proposed actions, he quickly tied knots that would hold at least two hundred pounds and properly disembarked from life as he once knew it. This is all irrelevant because no one will ever know if that last wish made before casting the coin of life into the wishing well of existence ever came true.

Again, I stress that this was not a tragic occurrence. This was whimsy at its finest.

* * * *

Sometimes on the streets of Tijuana, I see them crossing slowly in front of moving traffic. Sometimes even in pairs, like the other afternoon on the way to Centro after work. I was waiting to cross Calle Negrete south when they slowly came north and crossed against heavy traffic, cars were missing them by inches, and their expressions did not change. Nor did their speed or gait, in spite of the screeching tires and wailing horns, somehow they made it to my side of the street. I noticed their faces as they passed me. They were zombie-like, expressionless, apathetic.


A logical conclusion that one might reach, especially on the busy streets of Tijuana, is that such human beings are simply committing suicide, that there is a death wish somehow involved. Not true! Rampant drug abuse of various types can easily account for this behavior. Heavy drug use creates the apathy that some human beings want, that their brains are telling them that they need in order to survive. In order to not remember something that hurts to remember. And so on.

No one I ever met decided to do an eight-ball in order to remember some wonderful childhood memory or fantastically successful personal relationship or business venture or whatever. I never met a crack addict who hit the rock because her children loved her so much that she felt the need to alter her brain-chemicals. People alter their brain-chemicals in order to try and forget something that their brains, in any normal state, will not allow them to forget. People do not use hardcore drugs on a whim, they do it with a purpose. If death is a result of drugs, then whether or not it is by accident, any death is only a death as the result of apathy.

If suicide and drugs have common element, then it is this: Some people take drugs to commit suicide, but they do so prior to being under the influence of the drug. The whimsical moment occurs right before the drug is taken. There must be a common question that the mind asks itself, in such circumstances, which is, "What in the hell am I doing?"

And then, whatever happens after that, happens on a whim.

The moment of truth must be, I am sure, that moment right before the needle pierces the skin. Or else, for whatever reason, when someone puts a rope around their neck; and when the brain of this someone asked itself what in the hell it was doing, and the body that housed the brain merely shrugged and slid purposefully down a pedestrian bridge and hung itself. The neck breaks, resulting in oxygen depravation or paralysis or the snapping the spinal cord or whatever else otherwise renders dead any person hung by the neck.

On a whim.


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