I know Peter from Noosa’s Farmer’s Market. Together with his partner, Peter runs an organic produce stall.
Directly from his farm, Peter sells the best garlic I ever had (amazing flavour, with many bulbs bigger than my fist), some turmeric and ginger. The rest of the foodstuffs Peter sells, Peter buys from certified producers.
Every Sunday, Cat or I or the whole family go to the markets to buy most of our weekly food supplies. We greatly enjoy our Sunday morning ritual, which begins by getting our veggies from Peter.
If Peter’s not too busy, we usually engage in circumstantial conversation for a few minutes. I always get a good vibe from the man. I always find Peter in a good mood and it never feels forced or false.
Due to “soapy” reasons, we haven’t been able to visit Peter since early December. Last week, I went to the markets. Peter wasn’t there but a young bloke (which I later learned was Peter’s partner’s son) was helping out.
I got a weird vibe from Peter’s partner but didn’t pay much attention whilst I went through picking my veggies. When I was done, Peter’s partner made a point of being the one who served me.
We had a chat. Better yet, Peter’s partner talked and I listened…
I learned that Peter was sexually and physically abused as a child.
I learned that Peter developed trauma symptoms including anxiety and depression.
I learned that Peter developed feelings of shame, guilt and
I learned that Peter had trusting issues.
I learned that Peter was betrayed and robbed by a friend earlier in 2019.
I learned that Peter’s paranoia made him radically change his day-to-day, otherwise carefree, habits.
I learned that, on 18 December 2019, Peter killed himself.
If a guy – who talked to Peter, an average of 5 minutes a week for the past 3 years – feels like shit with what he’s learned at the markets, how should Peter’s partner feel?
I have always had mixed feelings about suicide.
On one hand I see it as a right, as in: I have the right to choose to end my life – it was given to me, it is mine to waste… it is mine to dispose of. Having said that, I do have sympathy for the argument that “I don’t own myself the way that I own an object and I have a moral obligation to myself as a ‘locus of divine value’ and that it is wrong to treat that casually”.
On the other, the myriad implications of such an act are entirely my responsibility. My right to do it does not absolve me of its catastrophic consequences. As in so much else, my responsibilities must take precedence over my rights.
Maybe it takes equal parts of courage and cowardice to kill oneself. Maybe all it takes is hopelessness and despair. Certain is the fact that it can’t be taken back.
Above all else, I believe it to be an evil act.
It is evil to do it to those close, those who care, those who love. It is evil to ascribe permanent guilt on them. They’ll never recover. They’ll never find the cure.
To Wendy (who will torture herself for the rest of her life) and for what is worth: It’s not your fault!