The Problem Of Suicide

“I didn’t mean-” said Tracey.

“Wizards can’t be hanged-” said Colin.

“-with Muggle rope, idiot,” said Peregrine.

“That’s such an advanced curse, though, where-” said Lavender.

“He’s an older Slytherin boy and his mother is Bellatrix Black,” said Cho.

“…I’m so sorry…” said Daphne Greengrass.

“Meta Merlin…” said Harry. “I told him that I really regretted having to dothis, but he should stop coming to-”

“It’s not your fault, Harry,” said Hermione.

“Let’s see…” said Luna, shuffling some cards, which Ginny distinctly saw go inand out of each other and transform via a magic she didn’t know. “The HangedMan in The Tower… that definitely means that Death is coming.”

“Death already came, Luna,” said Ginny.

“No,” said Luna. “It’s still coming. …I’d better warn everyone.”

A student saw Lesath’s corpse hanging in the Astronomy Tower before theHogwarts administration managed to isolate the area to prepare a controlledrelease of information, so news spread rapidly through the student population.Nothing prevented Professor McGonagall from going back in time six hours toensure there was no foul play involved, but of course she borrowed Hermione’scloak of invisibility to do it – if she contacted Lesath, she knew, she wouldbe further causally linked to his death than she had to be. No direct evidenceof evildoing was found; in fact, Lesath even enchanted the rope to hang awizard himself.

Lesath left a note, which read as follows:

“To all beings:

I am faulty, not by an accident of Birth but by an Accident of Growth. I amthe Scion of the Wicked and Most Reviled House of Lestrange. My Mother didn’tdo anything wrong, and yet you all believe that it is Her debt I must repay.In truth, I would say that it is my Fathers’. Tonight I leave this world andin your eyes complete the transition from Dark Lord to Light.

Until last year, I was mocked and scorned and beaten for the Lines thatCreated me. Now there are only whispers of that, though I know they are stillthere. Now I am feared and hated and punished for trying to start my own line,as I see naturally fit. You were all repulsed by the thought that I mightsomeday be a Father, never mind that I don’t believe I am like any of myFathers, and being the Mother would not be made compulsory. I’m not like anyof my Fathers? Am I? Your Repulsion has proven as contagious as dragon pox andI am now equally Repulsed by the thought of my Line continuing|

It has recently been confided in me that I am ‘Worth More Dead Than Alive’. Ifyou figure out Who told me this, do not punish Them. They wern’t being cruel.They only told me the Truth. I will now be Worth More. I will now cease toexist. When the Philosopher’s Stone has destroyed Death, the better world youcreate will be better for not having me in it. Don’t blame my Master and don’tblame my Mother.

The Last You’ll See Of,

Lesath Lestrange.”

Headmistress McGonagall sent the rope that Lesath used to the Ministry to beburned, as it was a contaminated, potentially critically dangerous magicalartifact.

Lesath’s fate got Ginny thinking about a topic she subconsciously avoidedthinking about – suicide. She had long ago realized, from various reports,that suicide was a potentially fatal mental break; a sickness rather than asin. It would be an obvious, appalling injustice if, as she was often told,“suicides went to Hell”. The common justification for suicide being a sin –that your life did not belong to you, but to God, or, in a secularizedcontext, the people around you, so there’s no distinction between suicide andmurder – grated terribly on Ginny; she did not feel that her sense of self-ownership was a sin, but rather a virtue. And yet it was equally clear toGinny that failing to prevent suicide was awful, like leaving people withcancer to die, and classifying it as a sin certainly accomplished that job.

Ginny had a hard time modeling the mind of a suicidal person, because herstrong aversion to dying made it easy for her to dismiss the relevantintrusive thoughts when they occurred. Only guilt could change that, and Ginnycouldn’t think of anything grand in scope for her to be guilty about. Shesupposed an over-focus on guilt could be the cause… they certainly said thathad been what happened to Lesath, though Ginny suspected it was far morecomplicated.

But why, after all, did Ginny even have a strong aversion to dying? It washard for her to articulate rationally a reason that she didn’t desire tohasten her own death, though she certainly didn’t. She believed in anafterlife; indeed, she believed that the afterlife was better than what camebefore it. She believed that committing suicide could not be consideredunethical, and that even if it could, it could not cause exclusion fromHeaven. So why not, given these axioms, point her wand at her neck and whisper“Diffindo”? If that was too direct for metaphysical comfort, why not find aclub, go to a nightmarish country, and go around bothering heathens until shewound up martyred? Maybe that was where the first trolls came from…

Ginny’s first thought was that her impulse to remain alive must be a lesscoherent form of the impulse people like Harry, who didn’t believe in anafterlife, possessed. From their perspective, of course, this truly wasobvious and rational. From hers, not so much; this suggested to Ginny that shestill only had belief in belief – but hadn’t her Patronus disproved thatthought? She then decided that her survival instinct, which overpowered whatotherwise seemed to be rational thought, must have come from somewherebiological, and it was certainly, on an evolutionary level, supposed to bethere. So that left three options. Either Ginny was one of the few people tobecome sufficiently religiously enlightened to realize that suicide was thecorrect course of action, and she should probably let other people know on herway out… or she had made a drastic mistake at some point along her reasoning…or…

Or there was some higher purpose to the construct of life than simply givingminds a place to reside. Perhaps it was instructional – that suggestedreincarnation, which Ginny didn’t like one bit, particularly the part aboutforgetting past lives, which seemed a rather obvious, and terrifying, patch toa rather obvious problem – or perhaps it was computational. Perhaps everyhuman being was part of a vast computer set up to solve difficult problems, touncover mysteries… Every man, woman, and child a subroutine… That wasn’t anadequate explanation alone, but it was approaching one. Ginny rested content.There was no point in fighting an irrational instinct if it caused you tofurther a moral good. I might belong to myself, thought Ginny, but whywreck someone’s project? If I’m forty and I’ve gotten an intelligent computermade out of specks, finally, and it just disassembles itself, then I’d forgiveit but I certainly wouldn’t be happy. And it’s not like I’m missing out on theafterlife by staying alive as long as possible.

Ginny’s Patronus got a bit brighter that day, and thankfully for Ginny’smental wellbeing, she never quite internalized that it was the direct resultof Lesath’s tragedy.

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