I’m not into the world of comics like I used to be. The extent of my collection consists of a few sets of manga that I bought in Japan that I use to hone my Japanese reading skills. (I’m not quite sure if the four-volume children’s set of Tonari no Totoro qualifies, but oh well.)
However, when a friend of mine shared a Tumblr post by Matt Fraction, a well-known writer of comics such as Hawkeye, The Invincible Iron Man, and Casanova, it gave me a whole new respect for Matt and his works.
A fan known as “whiskeyjack” asked the following question to Matt. I’ve edited some words to make it more family friendly, but everything else has been untouched. Here it is:
Sorry to put this on you but I have an honest question about depression an suicide. Isn’t it completely possible for it to be a alternative for someone. Can’t there be someone out there who genuinely is tired and doesn’t want to continue. I know there is beauty and wonderful things in this world. There are things to look forward to. There will be more pain but also more laughter. But what if I’m not interested?
How would a cool, famous comic-book writer respond to such a question? Or, rather, would he?
Matt’s response is rather lengthy but well worth the read:
well… well first off, i’d say, seek professional help immediately. because i am wildly unqualified to answer your question with anything but experience. and first off, my experience says, if you are in such a deep and dark place where you say things like this to total strangers on the internet, you need to be in contact with someone that can help you start to heal.second, i’d say… you’re wrong. i’d say the things any of us don’t know, especially about tomorrow, could blanket every grain of sand on every beach of the world with bull****. And to simply assume you are done tomorrow because you are done today is a mistake. a factual mistake, an error, a critical miscalculation.
i’d say, read Tad Friend’s piece JUMPERS in which he seeks and finds and talks to people that jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge — and lived. And they all say the same variations this: “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”
And know that this piece has kept me in my seat on more than a couple dark nights.
And i’d say — i’d say i felt that way before too, and i was wrong.
And then i’d tell you something i don’t even think my wife knows. this happend years before we met — s***, more than a decade — and it’s not the first time i came close to suicide was on a thanksgiving night. i’d eaten well and then as the house shut down i went into the bathroom, drew a bath as hot as i could manage to stand, and climbed into the tub with a razor blade.
As i started to cut, as the corner touched my skin and that jolt of pain fired into my head, i stopped and thought — y’know, last chance. Are you SURE?
And i was tired. I sounded like you, that i knew there’d be ups again and downs but i was just so f****** TIRED i couldn’t stand the thought of having to get there. I felt this… this never-ending crush of days that were grey and tepid but for some reason i was supposed to greet each one with a smile. the constant pressure of having to keep my s*** in all the time was just exhausting.
I wondered, then — well, is there anything you’re curious about. Anything you want to see play out. And i thought of a comic i was reading and i’d not figured out the end of the current storyline. And i realized I had curiosity. And that was the hook i’d hang my hat on. that by wanting to see how something played out I wasn’t really ready. That little sprout of a thing poking up through all that black earth kept me around a little longer.
I realized then that it had been so long since i’d laughed. I was numbed out and shut down and just… i missed laughing. maybe if i laughed a little i could get moving again. so i’d wait for my comic to conclude, try to find a few laughs, and then reevaluate.
So I’m in the bathtub and i got this real sharp-a** razor, right? And i look down and there’s all my bits floating in the water like they do and i thought okay, let’s get funny and i got to work.
I shaved off exactly half my pubic hair vertically. The end result was a ‘fro of pubes that looked like a Chia Pet that only half-worked. I started to laugh as I did it. And every time i’d p***, looking down made me laugh.
Because J**** what a nightmare.
Shortly thereafter I got very heavily into Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. Way less chafing and way more funny.
j****. i was still in high school at the time. dig if you will a picture of the chubby weirdo that was always giggling at his d*** in the bathroom. that was me.
And then I guess I’d tell you about Dave, who did the same thing as me a few years later, only DIDN’T have my hilarious Chia D*** strategy in mind and got the razor in and up. And as he started to bleed out “Brown Eyed Girl” came on the radio and he realized he’d never get to hear that again so, in a bloody comedy of errors — I swear to g** this is true — he got out of the tub, tried to get dressed the best he could, went downstairs calling for help only to find his family gone, went out to his car, and drove to doug’s house only to find doug not home and so, then, finally, he blacked out from blood loss sitting there in his car, playing a van morrison CD on repeat, until, by luck, Doug’s mom came home and found him.
F****** Van Morrison, y’know?
A song, a comic, something dumb, something small. From that seed can come everything else, I swear to g**.
I guess last I’d say… I’d say that, look — if you reached out to me for an answer, than I have to reach back out to you and insist you hear it. Because it means, what, you know me? My work? You read my stuff and thought, well, f***, if anyone would know why I shouldn’t end my life, if anyone alive is QUALIFIED TO SAVE ME it’s the guy that had britney spears punch a bear? okay — okay, then, so as THAT GUY I’m saying: Get help. Now, today, tonight, whenever — get to a phone and find a doctor that can try to help you heal, that can try to recolorize your world again, that can help you start caring again. All you need is that one tiny thing, that speck, that little grain of sand. the World Series, AVENGERS 2, Tina Fey’s new show, the first issue of PRETTY DEADLY, some slice of the world you’ve never seen, some drink you love, who the f*** will love your dog like you do if you’re gone, what if jabrams KILLS it on the new STAR WARS, the h*** are you doing for Halloween, you ever feed a dolphin with your bare hand? because i have and I am f****** telling you IT IS A THING TO EXPERIENCE and oh g** WHAT F****** FONT WILL STARBUCKS USE ON THE CHRISTMAS DRINK SLEEVES THIS YEAR — i don’t care what or how dumb but i promise you somewhere in your life is that one fleck of dust that can help start you on the road back. That’s all it takes. One f****** mote, drifting through your head.
And because you asked me I am answering you because i know, mother******, i know, i know, i know the hole you are f****** in because I was there myself and if you look hard you can still see my writing on those walls and if you stare long enough i swear to g** it’s pointing to up
As my friend said, this is one of the most genuinely connective responses to someone with suicidal ideation that I’ve ever seen on the Internet.
When times are bad and you feel hopeless, just read Matt’s response. It’ll put things in perspective for you.
The original quotes can be found here.