It was important to him that they all go off at exactly the same time, for instantaneous and absolute annihilation of his brain. To that end, he rigged up an innovative electronic firing pin system for each shell, joined together by a mess of wiring strung between them.
According to the article, he flipped the switch just as his mother opened the door to his room, having waited patiently for her to come investigate. I should say “according to legend” as the hard copy for the case was destroyed, and that last detail seemed too perfect to have actually happened.
It made me wistful. That would’ve been a really cool way to go, if only I’d known about it a month ago. There’s just no time left to arrange for something so elaborate. That’s useless to say though, everybody in my situation wants more time. None of them get it.
After dinner, I retired to my room to watch some videos I’d bookmarked over the past few days. All of them were suicides caught on tape. Most were pretty common stuff, like Budd Dwyer’s televised suicide, but I’d also managed to get my hands on some real rarities.
Christine Chubbuck was a news reporter for WVLT-TV channel 40 in Florida. On July 15th of 1974, she delayed her normal interview with her guest, claiming she had to read a newscast. This confused her coworkers, as she’d never done it before.
In fact it wasn’t a newscast, but a suicide script she read aloud to the camera. “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in ‘blood and guts’, and in living color” Christine read, “you are going to see another first — attempted suicide.”
She then produced a revolver, planted the tip of the barrel behind her right ear, and pulled the trigger. It had always been a tantalizing mystery to me what happened after that. They all drop so suddenly. It’s not like in the movies where you fall over like a tree. You instead collapse in a heap all at once, like a sack of bricks.
But which way did she fall? What position did her body come to rest in? The grainy mpeg video, obtained from a dubious dark web repository, at last satisfied my curiosity. She fell abruptly forward, smacking her head on the table in front of her before falling to the floor.
Almost anti-climactic. The mystery is usually better than the reality, which rarely lives up to what you’ve imagined. Still, I rewatched it eleven times before setting it aside and moving on to the next one.
It was the Bjork stalker, another classic. It drags on for hours and hours as he paces around his room, mentally preparing himself. Because of that, it’s tough to find the full video. Most versions of it are cropped down to the last few minutes.
No appreciation for slow, tantric buildup. People are just too eager to skip straight to the main event, I suppose. I’ve only watched the entire thing myself twice before, so maybe I’m not the one to stand in judgement.
This time I skipped around, watching a few minutes here and there, trying to put myself in his shoes. As much as possible, trying to live inside of his apparent mindset as he psyched himself up for his final act.
This video was actually the inspiration for the exit wound imprint fad. This one guy set up a canvas behind his head in the hopes that his brain would splatter all over it, only to fuck it all up by using a 9mm weapon.
9mm rounds will penetrate one layer of bone, but often not two. They bounce around inside of the skull, totally shredding your brain. This made it a popular choice until the exit wound imprint craze took off. Then suddenly everybody wanted larger calibers, to ensure a good spread across the canvas.
There was no splatter of blood and brains in the video. Just a split second bulge on his forehead, the bullet straining to escape in that moment but failing. Literally one frame later, his body’s on the floor. It’s strangely cathartic to watch a life end from the outside, while your own life goes on.
It creates this illusory feeling that death isn’t real. As if, because you’re able to keep on watching after the guy in the video is on the ground with blood pooling under his head, it will be the same way for you. Somehow you’ll just keep watching, keep being aware of what happens after you’ve pulled the trigger.
The next video was just the last minute or so of the Columbine footage. I had no interest in watching Eric and Dylan slaughter innocents, just what they did after that. It captivates me because they don’t do it at the same time.
Eric shot himself first, probably taking for granted Dylan would do it at the same time, but he didn’t. He lingered, only shooting himself several seconds later. It drives my imagination wild trying to figure out what thoughts were going through his head, just before that bullet.
Regrets? Rationalization? Did he consider laying down his gun and surrendering to cops, only to decide that he’d come too far and done too much to wuss out in the eleventh hour? Of course I’ll never find out, for more than one reason.
At least they succeeded on their first attempt. I next watched a video of an Australian man from 1995 who shot himself in the chest with a shotgun. Despite blowing a hole in his torso, he somehow managed not to destroy any vital organs.
So he next positioned the barrel under his chin. Must’ve never read up on how to angle it properly as he only wound up blowing off his chin and much of his face. Still alive and conscious, he then struggled to reload the weapon before finally getting it right.
I’ve thought about going with a shotgun, but it doesn’t leave a whole lot behind. The entire head just disintegrates, and all the guests would have to wear raincoats. Besides, traditionally members of my family have always done it with a handgun, and at home rather than some sterile government exit center. I hardly wanted to leave such a terrible mess for my mother to clean up.
I closed out of all the browser windows, then finished deleting everything embarrassing on my computer I didn’t want anybody to read. Like a folder of chat logs between myself and an ex that I saved, reading over them again and again in order to live inside the illusion that she still felt that way about me.
I found a bunch of cringy old essays I wrote in highschool as well, and a folder of nude selfies I would trade with girls I met through online dating websites before I got the exit selection letter. No need for any of this now. I deleted my dating website account as well.
Finding stuff to occupy myself with, I guess. Every time I peered over my shoulder at my bed, something in me forced me to turn back to the computer screen. I didn’t want to go to sleep just yet. As if, by refusing to, I could prevent tomorrow from ever arriving.
When I finally did crawl into bed, sleep was fitful. I woke up twice in the night, and on a trip to the bathroom, I passed by the casket in the livingroom. It was covered in a sheet because Dad insisted it was a family tradition that I not see what the casket looks like until my big day.
Reminds me of Christmas. When I would sneak out of bed to see the stockings hung by the fireplace, and the presents stacked up under the tree. I’d shake them to try and get an idea of what could be inside. How sternly I was scolded the year Mom caught me doing that!
The casket just sat there, silhouetted against dim light from street lamps outside coming in through the living room’s bay window. Silent, but exuding a sort of subtle gravity all its own. I slipped the sheet off, opened the lid and climbed in.
It felt strangely comfortable and right. As if this is where I’ve always belonged, but didn’t know it until now. I tried shutting the lid and only found it more peaceful, laying there in the quiet darkness. Surely this is what it will be like?
No, not even this. Not the sensation of lying still in silent darkness, but no sensation at all. I could never wrap my head around that. I don’t think the human brain has evolved with the capability to imagine what death is like. There’s no reproductive benefit to that.
Stay Tuned for Part 3!