which is in the process of being slowly written and perhaps only half-done though you'll need to see for yourself. I also will give the link to my book away for free to anyone who asks for the reasons described and struckthrough (why is it strickenthrough? because i thought it would be pretentious and symbolic if it was all crossed out: also my thing is kind of not making any effort to make things easier for the reader and that sometimes includes actively making it harder via interference) below.
The human brain needs a certain amount of blood to function, and there is an unnervingly small backup reserve. An informed and steady-handed (or not, really) individual can initiate the required intense bleeding with something as common as a loose razorblade or sharpened kitchen knife. It is a capricious and dramatic death characterized by an immature lack of foresight. Exsanguination is not fast food: in dining metaphor it is more like standing in a line for a bread ration. It could, depending on the location and intensity of the cuts, take hours, during which the confused heart, being a real go-getter type, will respond to the increasing lack of visible progress (where’s my goddamn blood, the tyrannical brain is yelling, in spite of the heart’s best efforts) by simply working harder and harder, without limit---possibly, depending on your general health, culminating in cardiac arrest before the brain ceases to function. Those imagining something brutal but romantic should cast their collective gazes elsewhere. And then there’s the mess. Please tell me you’re considerate enough to not exsanguinate yourself on a mattress. Two gallons of blood will ruin almost anything it is poured over, save the toilet, sink, or, ideally, bathtub. The modest bath exsanguinator may choose to wear a bathing suit to prevent being eventually discovered naked. Avoid the tub if you are living alone, though, as stagnant water does really unpleasant things to an undiscovered body: best to stay dry in that case. Whether or not seppuku--an abdominal sort of ritualistic Japanese suicide, in which the suicidal individual would write a poem and then forcefully disembowel himself with a short samurai sword before being decapitated by a close friend--is excluded from exsanguination depends on personal interpretation. An acquaintance of mine, with whom I used to talk a lot about these kinds of things, once insisted that seppuku’s focus on the lower abdominal organs mitigated the wound’s threat to the cutter’s immediate life. He claimed that most of the organs located in the abdomen were completely obsolete when you considered the period of time it would take for the individual to pass out from blood loss. So what could it be other than exsanguination, when the cause of brain death clearly comes from lack of blood? I argued that, in this instance, the intentions of the suicidal brain had to be taken into account: what was the disembowelment trying to accomplish? If they were trying to exsanguinate, they would not have done it in such an exaggerated way. The goal of seppuku is not the letting of blood: the blood is unimportant compared to the idea of the wound itself, which is catastrophic.
Asphyxia refers to the condition of being unable to supply your body with oxygen via breathing. It is a diverse and effective category that includes drowning, choking, and “exit bagging.” In some instances the lungs are filled with some inert substitute that prevents the absorption of oxygen, and in others the windpipe leading to the lungs is cinched or obstructed, but either way, the outcome is pretty much the same.
Drowning is a fast but uncomfortable death characterized by passivity and repression. The main benefit drowning has over other methods of brain death is that deaths by drowning are often categorized as unfortunate accidents by the survivors. This makes drowning a good choice for compassionate brains that want to protect loved ones and life insurance policies. If the body is recovered in a reasonable amount of time, it may even be in good condition, further reducing the family’s emotional trauma. As with all “accidental” deaths, there is a risk of being rescued, which typically prohibits a second attempt: dying in a situation you have been repeatedly rescued from compromises the presupposition of accident, and at the very least makes you look comedically reckless and incompetent.
Choking is identical to drowning in that choking deaths are automatically categorized as accidental, but public choking, the really convincing kind, forces the subtle suicidal to spend his last living moments selling the idea that he is choking on accident; to pantomime, though he feels nothing but relief at his imminent end, a panicked choking individual by thrashing and breaking furniture and gesturing towards his throat. He must also avoid anyone that looks like they know the Heimlich maneuver. And we’re not even yet to the fact that full closure of the throat is surprisingly difficult to achieve artificially. Brains considering this method should also know that there is no dignity whatsoever in choking to death: expect the object you choked on to be anthropomorphized and referenced at every family event when your memory is exhumed and mourned, and expect to be consistently but good-naturedly mocked for having been killed by that damn baby carrot, or burned bagel, or whatever.
“Exit bagging” is a fast, comfortable, and straightforward death characterized by clinical sterility, isolation, and emotional numbness. An airtight plastic bag is piped with inert gas and secured over your head. The gas, typically nitrogen or helium, deprives your lungs of oxygen while inhibiting your hypercapnic alarm response (collective bad feelings associated with not breathing). The exit-bagged brain will drift into unconsciousness without experiencing the instinctive dread and anxiety associated with an impending death by suffocation. If someone resolves to exit-bag, it is recommended that the individual purchases a pre-made euthanasia kit from a reputable source, as a certain prolific manufacturer of helium tanks announced in 2015 that their tanks would now contain 20% breathable air to prevent them being used for exit-bagging. Be warned that the risk of interruption is especially dire when using helium. Explaining exactly why you’re sitting naked in an unlit house, red-faced, head wrapped in plastic, cold tank of helium arranged in the covers beside you, its regulator fill valve resting on a pillow like a microcephalic head, a YouTube video of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 playing in tiny cacophony from the speakers of your cell phone, to explain all that is difficult enough without the whole thing being preluded by you screeching in the voice of a chipmunk that you can explain everything.
Hanging is a dramatic death characterized by self-condemnation and shame. There are two distinct types: suspension hanging and drop hanging. In the case of suspension hanging, brain death can be uncomfortable, but it is unique in that, once initiated, it gives no opportunity to retreat. An exsanguinator can call an ambulance, and a drowner can possibly swim to the surface, but a repentant hanger can only claw rope, flail legs, and wait.
The first decision a would-be hanger must make is in what manner they want their brain to die. Depending on the length of the rope, the drop distance, and other various conditions (knot type, noose positioning, etc.), a brain may die of ischemia, mortal damage to cervical vertebrae, or, in the event of unusually long drops, complete decapitation resulting in near-instant death. Generally speaking, the farther the fall, the faster the death: this is the primary difference between suspension hanging and drop hanging. Contrary to popular belief, the cause of death in suspension hanging, which calls for a short length and a gentle drop, is not suffocation, but instead ischemia, which is a lethal lack of blood flow to the brain due to the jugular veins being occluded by the rope. In an ideal drop hanging, however, the body falls between five to nine feet before being stopped by the rope, and by that stop the spinal cord is completely severed on a low-numbered cervical vertebrae. That’s the ideal scenario. But this damage has proven inconsistent and unreliable. Certain evidence (of which there is an unexpectedly large and modern supply) suggests that these types of injuries occur in the minority of hanged victims. If you must hang, the most reliably fatal way to do so involves being fixed around the neck with a tight noose and being dropped from a height of ten or more feet. In certain circles (my acquaintance again) there is much heated debate about whether this practice strays too far from the timeless classic. Some (he) argue(s) that it should be classified as simple decapitation alongside the guillotine and the medieval axe-and-chopping-block. Personally, I believe the rational approach is to accept that the guillotine and the axe-and-chopping-block are improbable aides in the pursuit of self-inflicted brain death, and to accept that hanging is, if not always easy, at least ultimately effective, and at most an interesting novelty that enriches the suicide culture with its inconsistency.
Direct and Indirect Self-Inflicted Catastrophic Injury.
The ways in which a brain can destroy itself directly---by which I mean through the skull, and without the use of some indirect chemical or physical process---are innumerable: the varieties of bashing alone are at least as diverse as the number of dense objects. Shooting oneself with a gun, however, stands out as humanity’s clear preference, particularly in the United States, where half of all suicides are committed by brains that instruct their bodies to load, aim selfward, and shoot. Shooting oneself is a fast and effective means of accomplishing brain death. Under ideal circumstances, the brain’s function is immediately ceased. While the gunshot method is effective, boasting a success rate of 80-90 percent (far higher than any other in this review), one feels very bad for the fifteen or so percent that do it poorly. A shot in the forehead, above and between the eyes, turns out to be an astoundingly bad idea when you realize that a maimed body can survive in a vegetative state for years as long as the brainstem is intact. The exact level of consciousness sustained in such a state varies from person to person, but prospects are generally not good. Therefore it is in every brain’s best interest to resist the urge to aim for the bulk of your meaty dome: focus instead on destroying the area at the base of the skull.
There are many other types of interesting self-inflicted catastrophic injury, but most are indirect, opting instead to cause brain death through a combination of vital organ destruction and exsanguination. Because of this lack of focus, jumping from the top of a building, bridge, or cliff, while far more exhilarating than other methods, has proven to grievously wound more often than it outright kills. Some argue that the jumper’s choice of location influences their success, which is almost certainly true, but there are several documented survivals at even extreme heights: Alan Magee, a WWII pilot, leapt from his plane at 20,000 feet, fell through the glass ceiling of a train station, and lived, demonstrating that even at terminal velocity there are circumstances under which the human body can survive impact. If you are one of those freaks of nature that can live through such an impact, it will be by a slim margin, and you will not be able to jump again until you endure a slow and painful recovery, assuming the damage you’ve inflicted on yourself is recoverable at all: good luck getting to the top of the Golden Gate in a wheelchair.
Killing oneself by jumping onto the rails of subway trains is popular in certain parts of the world. It is so common in Germany that Deutsche Bahn, a rail company, is rumored to operate a sanitorium specifically for rehabilitating train operators traumatized by people jumping in front of their moving trains. What motivates someone to kill themselves in such a gruesome way, and also to force someone else, a complete stranger, to experience it with you, vicariously, I will never understand. I imagine there is a lot more happening there than simple suicidal ideation. My grandfather was killed by a train in a true tragic accident. He was too deaf to hear it coming and stepped in front of it in the fog. Nobody was present, and the conductor was not traumatized at all. He didn’t even realize it happened.
Chemical Induction of Brain Death.
Chemically-induced death is a passive death characterized by anxious uncertainty and an inability to rationalize perceived personal shortcomings. 30% of all worldwide suicides are accomplished by the deliberate consumption of pesticides, though it is important to note that the rates per country are influenced dramatically by socioeconomics, with poorer countries having significantly higher rates of chemical suicide than their Western counterparts. Imagine yourself as a destitute Chinese farmwoman eating a pesticide. Do you eat it in secret? Do you expect people to assume you died from natural causes? Is there some shame attached? Or is it implied that they can bow out of life at any time, for any reason, the way I bow out of Monopoly games that last more than an hour? A significant portion of acute liver failure cases in the United States are caused by over-the-counter acetaminophen overdose. A significant portion of those are intentional. People chase fistfuls of the stuff with plastic-bottle liquor, expecting to die peacefully in their sleep, and wake up the next morning thinking it didn’t work---but really, it did, as eighty percent of these overdosers they will achieve what they set out to do and die, albeit slowly and with great suffering, and stretched over a course of days or weeks, as their destroyed liver metaphorically shrivels up and blows away on a miasmic wind.
The tragedy here, and the problem with most chemically-induced brain deaths, is the waiting period between when the chemicals are imbibed and brain death occurs. It is criminally variable. In some cases agonizing pain sets in almost immediately and continues unrelenting for the entire foreseeable future. In others the overdoser is left with permanent brain damage, crippled, or in a coma, non-functioning, or with various organs destroyed, various systems fried, abandoned to set up camp on death’s doorstep, almost there, always, their entire stunted existence a reminder of their definitive shortcoming, their inability to escape, and their failed attempt the reason for their subjective prison becoming that much more restrictive. In some instances the family which the overdoser would have left behind is then obligated to care for the damaged individual for years, decades. The problem I have with chemicals is not that they are dramatically different from conventional methods (though perhaps chemicals are a conventional method, now), but rather that they have so many indeterminate variables. If you are a doctor that understands the effects of each individual medicine you intend to overdose on, then carry on, my wayward son, but to all others I say: here be dragons.