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Home > Culture and Society

Killing the pain

5 November 2004

In 1998, in an attempt to stop quite so many people killing themselves, the government introduced legislation which reduced the number of paracetamol and aspirin tablets in packets. At the end of last week, the British Medical Journal published research which showed conclusively that the initiative has so far been a great success - death by paracetamol and aspirin fell by 22% in the year following the reduction, and continued to fall over the next two years. Interestingly, over the same period, non-fatal overdoses from ibuprofen - which for some reason were not included in the legislation - increased by 27%, although the number of deaths remained unchanged.

So if you think you might be a little on the suicidal side, the message is clear: stock up on mega-packs of ibuprofen. But you'd better be quick. The success of the anti-suicide campaign means that ibuprofen will probably be next on the list. The government are already planning to further reduce paracetamol and aspirin packet sizes. It is projected that by the end of the decade, the maximum paracetamol allowance per person will be as little as one pill and a sachet of Lemsip.

The thinking behind the packet-size-reduction was based on the fact that, in the opinions of experts in such matters, most suicides are fairly impulsive things. People are sitting at home, watching Eastenders, and they think, 'Fuck it. That's enough.' At which point they rush to the medicine cabinet, fill their bellies with whichever tablet is most abundant and shuffle miserably off to meet their maker. (Whether they will actually get to meet their all-forgiving maker, or whether they'll be turned away at the pearly gates and cast into an eternity of fire and brimstone where suicide is no longer an option is not really relevant. Sorry for mentioning it.)

But it simply isn't that easy anymore. The days when every household contained at least one of those 100-pill mega-tubs with the childproof clicky lids are gone. Instead, now when the poor desperate bastards reach the end of their tether, write a haunting farewell note and head for the bathroom, they have to make do with a measly half-empty blister pack of 24 junior aspirin. Imagine their disappointment. That's all they need. In their state.

Well, unlike the government, we at TFT are not so sure that suicide is such a bad thing. In fact, sometimes, suicide is actually a well-reasoned well reasonable option. Depressing though it may seem, for so very many people, life is really not that great and it never ever will be. For these people, suicide can come as a blessed relief. And so for this reason, we offer up the following household alternatives for suicidal readers with too few pills, too little imagination but the sudden urge to just get the fucking thing over with:

- Bleach party: Thankfully old Nanny Blair has not yet decided to restrict the size of bottles of household bleach, so there is still plenty of scope for death by Domestos. Be warned however, this particular suicide is NOT painless.

- Chopstick hara-kiri: at the back of your kitchen drawer you will find at least two chopsticks, probably left there by the sophisticated ex-partner whose loss may well have sent you into this current downward spiral. Take said chopsticks and walk into a large open space. Place the less blunt ends of the chopsticks against your closed eyelids so that they're sticking out horizontally, like you're two daleks. Count to three in Japanese (ichi, ni, san) then, holding the chopsticks in place, simply fall forward onto the ground.

- Water way to go: if you're absolutely sure you want to go, why not drown yourself in the comfort of your own living room? If Leah Betts taught us anything, it was that drowning doesn't have to be horribly unpleasant and leave a bloated corpse. She also taught us that you can fatally capsize your brain with as little as three litres of water. Drink six to be on the safe side. You might also want to try taking a large amount of MDMA and dancing about a bit. This will make it easier to consume vast amounts of water. But be careful: the ecstasy may reinstate your will to live, and at this stage that could be tragic.

- Saw throat: if you've got a garden shed, you've probably got a saw. And if you've got a saw, you've got a great tool for the perfect suicide solution. Simply place the jagged edge of the saw blade against your larynx and give it some elbow-grease. Actually, this method is not foolproof, and if you do survive, you'll probably have difficulty putting your feelings into words for some time. The more faint-hearted amongst you might want to go with an axe.

More Self-Slaughter:

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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