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Because I Can

August 20, 2013

Filed under: Philosophy — Tags: , , — Barry @ 11:57 AM

images-2Stymied.  Stuck.  Shamed.  These are some of the emotions I felt when I clicked on a website shared by Mike Florio of ProFootballtalk.com. 

Florio is a lawyer turned blogger who generally offers some very good if not controversial sports opinions.  You may know him from his TV spot on NBC’s Game of the Week.  In yesterday’s list of posts was a strange title that led to the website of Martin Manley, a sports blogger who decided to kill himself at age 60 ( I am still uncomfortable writing about this).  Strange as it was to find this on a site devoted to football…I posted it on Facebook where some friends commented and felt the same way I did…compelled to keep reading and somewhat disturbed.  Uncomfortable may be a better word.  The subject, suicide, can be considered taboo in many circles.

Manley wrote a massive amount of material on the site.  He divided into two categories: his life and his death.  He claimed that he was healthy, financially secure, not lonely and mentally stable.  The writing indicated that he certainly had a grasp of language.

Many of the comments indicated one question…”WHY?”

But on one of the early pages he tells us why…“Because I Can.”

And that’s what stirred me.  That’s what bothered me to the point of those 3 words echoing in my head through the night.

“Because I can” is a matter of free will…his freedom of choice.  By deciding to take his life, he relinquished his will to live.  This is so contrary to everything in my life at every level.  I watch living organisms struggle for their last breath to hold on in an effort to maintain and sustain life.  I also watch people give up way to easily because of fear, and never get the most out of life.  Martin Manley, in the end, abused his freedom of choice…and then left it on the web to show us how much courage he had.

He was a man who committed the ultimate cowardly act.  It’s easy to say he was mentally disturbed.  Mental illness is a terrible thing.  Manley committed an act of arrogance.

It takes more courage to fight life’s daily challenges. 

The vast majority of people reading this blog will never consider suicide as an alternative…but people do.

At the risk of sounding sophomoric – Manley’s act should be an example of using our freedom of choice to overcome ours fears rather than submit to them.

In the end–the ultimate message is the the timeless one…Choose Life!


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  1. After I read Manley’s website last night, I tried to understand. I did. I often wonder what if my brain functioned differently? What if I did not have the emotional responses I have? Would I have a different philosophy, spirituality, desire for life? How strong is the biological imperative in me? How hard would I fight to live. I cared for a spouse who fought a long, painful battle to live and whose organs failed and brain bled before he could get the transplant organ he needed to live. His drive was strong. My “miracle” mother is defying the odds with a strong will to live. From my personal experience, it took a totally different mindset and emotional system, if not totally different biological drive, to act on, not just intellectually contemplate what Manley did. But, when it comes to emotional depression and pain,I am not one to judge. How can I? I can seek to understand and because of my philosophy (I choose life), I can seek to “see” and “hear” the depression and pain of others and extend myself to help them move out of that space (if possible). It will take clinical experts to interpret this suicide to me. I hope we hear more about this from them.

    Comment by Deborah Bush — August 20, 2013 @ 12:27 PM

  2. Research shows that most people who commit suicide do not leave notes. Most suicides at the biologic level on not explainable. Manley left us a long note. I think he thought he knew “why?” But I don’t think he knew why…he was kidding himself. Deep fear of life (he admitted his own fear of dying — so he took control), is what causes the quiet desperation that T.S. Eliot referred to. There are many lessons we learn from observing death—we can learn how to live, as you describe above. As you say–there is only one choice—LIFE.

    Comment by Barry — August 20, 2013 @ 12:39 PM

  3. Barry

    You knew this would hit me between the eyes. I saw it on your FB post but did not have the time to read Mr Manley’s post in its entirety.

    Deb is right in saying that a clinician will need to interpret this. This man does not sound like the typical suicide victim. He does, however, appear to be egocentric with total disregard to the feelings of others around him. Perhaps it is because he had no family; perhaps he felt unloved and unvalued. Perhaps he was simply out of his mind.

    A number of us have been rocked by the recent loss of Andrea Beerman, a beloved, outstanding clinician and lady who took her own life a few months ago. As you know, Jim Otten and I are working on a program to enhance awareness of dentists’ vulnerability to depression, the first and necessary ingredient needed for this kind of tragedy. Our goals and objectives are too lengthy for this forum; suffice it to say that if we can prevent just one death, just one marriage from needlessly dissolving, just one dentist from going over the (mental) edge, we will have succeeded.You’ll see us roll out our program in Andrea’s memory at the Pankey Alumni meeting in a few weeks.

    Mr Manley’s rationalization is from a mind that is truly unsound. There must have been some underlying mental illness there- psychologists will put some pieces together eventually. Rational people do not do this. We need to be aware that mental illness is out there, remove the stigma, – especially in professionals whose referrals and licensure could be affected by talking about it- and address the issue with courage and compassion.

    Mr Manley was neither a hero nor a villain. He was neither brave nor selfish. He was profoundly ill. I hope people will join Jim and me as we form our battle plan against this PREVENTABLE cause of death

    Comment by Alan Stern — August 20, 2013 @ 1:41 PM

  4. Alan–a self-inflicted bullet wound is the definition of suicide. I agree–lay people discussing this leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
    I didn’t want to go down the dentistry and depression road—but now that you bring it up—Manley’s logic reveals a lot about his outlook on life. That outlook doesn’t sound like someone with a cheery disposition. All of the programs that we attend to better ourselves, discuss the idea of happiness and job satisfaction. When I read Manley’s thoughts — I can’t get close to identifying…Forty years in any field can wear on a person–it’s the outlook that will keep them alive. This philosophy is stressed at the Pankey Institute.
    Your tribute to Andrea will be well attended—a great tragedy.

    Comment by Barry — August 20, 2013 @ 2:37 PM

  5. Risking exposure of personal history, we are all vulnerable — and some of us more so than others. I can tell you this, Alan, I never felt God’s presence or love more strongly — the strongest imaginable and compelling intention, if you will, of embracing grace — as when living through my adult son’s “slow suicide” actions that were driven by desperate addiction to alcohol and clinical depression. I did everything in my power.

    The question you beg us to respond to is not “What do we want?” but rather, “What can we do?” What can we do as friends and colleagues–or even just acquaintances–of those who need clinical and emotional support?

    We do not turn away because it is painful. We do not choose to “not see it” just because it is not obvious. We use our intuition to an intentionally heightened degree to sense the mindset of those who are present in our lives. We express our respect and “I’ll be here with you and value you no matter what” sentiments. We practice what Barry so often preaches in this blog; we practice the Golden Rule with genuine love.

    We go beyond caring about those who are depressed, in chronic pain, and/or affected by addiction to seeing how close to the brink any of us might come — With courage and compassion, we fight for their lives… better lives.

    The statistics are mounting… adult female suicide in the US is climbing. I wonder if any family in the US has gone untouched by what is categorized as mental health issues. Probably not. There are reasons. Just as you do not treat patients before understanding the underlying causes of the disease…what is at the root of the problem? When we look at and understand the causes, we can have impact.

    I think you and Jim Otten are on a fantastic path with your program. Bless you. The Pankey Alumni and other cohorts of dentists can have a unique leverage and impact on removing the stigma of depression and the stigma of other health issues. If the stigma is removed, more people will get the most appropriate support they need.

    We all know professionals are skilled at rising above their personal pain and “hiding it.” They have a unique ability to go about the business of expertly caring for others and investing of their empathetic selves, day after day, even when they are suffering.

    Care givers are special people. They just are.

    Comment by Deborah Bush — August 21, 2013 @ 3:13 PM

  6. Hi Barry
    I have contacted you before about not receiving the ADL newsletter. I have applied above many times.
    Is the ADL newsletter the same as TAO Blog.
    Can I subscribe to the TAO, I love it?
    How can I get it regularly or how can I subscribe?

    Comment by jerry zanni — August 22, 2013 @ 10:12 PM

  7. Hi Jerry–No, the ADL Newsletter is a quarterly newsletter — which will be delivered throiugh e-mail. Those who sign up will be getting the newsletter e-mailed. As of late I have been working hard trying to get the new book out. The Art of Case Presentation should be ready for delivery around the third week in September. Those on the e-mail list will receive a discount. Once my commitments slow down I will focus on get the newsletter out more regularly.
    Thanks for your support.

    Comment by Barry — August 22, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

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