Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
 
Jeff Freeman takes his own life

Suicides make me uncomfortable. Not only on a personal level, but also from a writer's point of view. There appears to be some convention to report suicides like any other tragic deaths, treating it as a mental illness leading to death, not unlike a cancer causing somebody to die. I didn't know Jeff "Dundee" Freeman personally, but I did read his various blogs, and it is hard for me to believe that there was no free will involved in his death. Does that make his death less tragic, if that was what he really wanted?

So I can only wish Jeff a heartfelt "rest in peace". For a more personal obituary you need to read Raph's. I don't even want to talk about that whole unfortunate SWG NGE episode, for which Jeff was unfairly blamed, even if his family said that wasn't a factor in his death. What I can contribute is a quote of something I wrote about Jeff in the past: "I can't decide whether Jeff is way more intelligent than I am, or whether he is plain crazy. Either option scares me a bit. He has this absolutely brilliant satirical style, which is at times really, really hard to understand." That was when he proved the correlation between the number of pirate MMORPGs and the increasing real-world piracy, thereby ending the videogame violence debate. I think it is best to remember him as that brilliant satirist, without dwelling too much on whereto being misunderstood can lead.
Comments:
I'm not a mental health professional, but as a minister I have listened to a number of people struggling with mental health issues. I have also been with families and loved ones in the aftermath of a suicide.

Surely there is free will involved in a suicide, just as surely as they are mental health problems. I don't believe there is much, if anything, to make suicide less tragic. Although I'd be willing to give a little ground in cases of terminal illness and other drastic diseases.

And that is how I see mental illness, as a drastic disease. I don't think someone of normal health would want to end their life, at least not to the point of seriously considering it or doing it.

Mental illness and depression need to be seen as the diseases that they are so that people realize that when they struggle with these things they aren't just struggling with their own free will. I think it can lead to harm to characterize suicide as just a choice of free will, since there isn't much we can do to overcome free will. But there are things we can do to deal with mental illness.

Regardless, I appreciate this post and the questions you raise.
 
I agree that noone in pure mental health would seek to end their life. Not in a culture that does not ritualize it.
If even the family admits there were problems, then that casts doubt.
If I were in the depths of anguish, so miserable that life had become a torment, could I really be credited with "free will" at that point? I think not.
 
Everybody has the right to end his life and we should respect their decision (even if we fail to understand it).
 
Suicide is usually a permanent solution to a temporary problem. My heart grieves for his family and friends.
 
I don't know if you spotted the few idiots who left "hope you burn in hell" comments among the condolences on Jeff's last blog post.

You would think I would have learned to expect as much by now but I still am shocked and upset at just how unpleasant and small minded folks can be under the anonymous mantle of the internet.
 
Very very sorry to hear

My thoughts go out to his family
 
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