Death and Life in the Power of Google

by Shifra Montag

People who know me laugh at me for Googling everything. What can I say? I like having the answers. To be honest, I don’t understand people who don’t. How can you live with not knowing the definitive answer to whatever it is you are wondering about, when it is only a few clicks away?

Right now I am wondering about suicide. I have already decided to do it. I know the how (fatal overdose of over the counter medications), the why (too complicated to go into, and honestly, I don’t know you that well) and the when (tonight). I just wonder whether there is something I have overlooked. I mean, I might as well go out with a bang.

I spill the hundreds of pills I have been accumulating for over a year onto my pillow. It looks a little bit like a ball playpen for the Borrowers. White, green, red, blue, and yellow…. I am probably the only person to see these colors and immediately think of the Google logo.

There is something appealing about all the colors of the pills covering my pillow. Nothing else about a fatal overdose is remotely glamorous, yet that is the method of many famous suicides. I can’t shake off the feeling that there is an element of suicide I have neglected.

I type the words “famous suicides” into the search bar and press enter. The first couple of entries are from Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia almost as much as I love Google. It provides a list of notable people who terminated their own lives. There is also an entry about… suicide notes!

I knew I was missing something. I can’t kill myself without leaving a note, can I?

I already told you that people who know me laugh at me for Googling everything. I believe I can stop whenever I want (please don’t remind me that all addicts say the same thing) but I don’t see why I should. Google can help with nearly any problem. Even if it can’t provide the answer, it can usually point you in the right direction.

Google can give me examples of suicide letters. I wonder whether anyone put up a guide to writing a suicide letter online? After all, there are “How To”s on everything from tying your shoes to kissing.

I Google “how to write a suicide letter”. I’m not sure whether or not I’m surprised at the number of articles on the subject. One article in particular catches my attention. It poses the question: “Should You Leave a Suicide Note Before You Kill Yourself?” Maybe I can kill myself without leaving a note. I click on the link to the article.

“Should you leave a suicide note before you kill yourself?” it begins.

If you are asking that question, you are asking the wrong question. This is the question that you need to ask: How can I get HELP? If you are thinking about writing a suicide note, I mean REALLY thinking about it, then you undoubtedly have a mental illness, such as clinical depression.

No shit, Sherlock. I’ve been convinced that I am severely depressed for ages. I’ve completed something like a million online quizzes and mental health tests. All of them reached that same conclusion. It’s pretty easy to figure out that I’m not happy. After all, I am sitting here and planning my own demise.

The article went on.

So, that is NOT you talking about the “note,” it is the illness talking. And don’t listen to its bullshit. A serious mental illness, like a serious illness of any kind, is potentially stronger than any of us. So you need HELP. And reaching out for help does NOT mean that you are weak, it means that you are smart. VERY smart. Period.

This is bullshit. Who am I supposed to reach out to, exactly? My parents are out of the question – they would get hysterical. I’ve skimmed enough articles on the subject online to know all the things any teacher or counselor would say. I don’t trust them to help me. If I go to an “authority figure” they’ll just label me as crazy, put me under suicide watch and feed me Prozac or something. Anyway, I don’t need help from anyone.. It doesn’t matter whether this is a disease or not, the only solution is death.

The words “solution” and “death” join together like search keywords and pull stuff up from the recesses of my mind:“Death is not a solution, it’s an escape”;“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”; blah, blah, blah.

Aiming to push away these thoughts, I click on a different link. The title of the piece is “How to Write a Suicide Letter”. I skim the beginning, and find myself drawn in, reading with attention.

You feel that you simply can no longer cope with the immense pain of this world, and you want to escape this reality, so you’re going to commit suicide. But first you will write a letter. In this letter you will explain that no one is to blame for this situation, because you don’t want anyone who knows or loves you to blame himself, and then you’ll commit the act of suicide in the cleanest possible way to minimize bother for other people.

I barely even considered cutting my wrists. It would take forever to clean the bathroom of all the blood. Just over a year ago, I filled my backpack with rocks and was going to jump into the river. At the last minute, I thought about all the people whose time and efforts would be expended, dragging the river for my body. I put the rocks back where I found them and started collecting pills.

I glance at my capsule covered pillow for a moment, then turn my eyes back to the screen and continue reading.

You were always so wonderful. Thoughtful. Minimizing yourself in family pictures so as not to take up too much space. Taking care of everything. Refusing to even leave a mess after you and choosing the location and method that should cause the least trouble to those you leave behind. Refusing, up to the last, to be a disappointment.

Disappointing people is the thing I hate most. Maybe that’s why I Google everything. When people ask me something, they expect an answer. If I don’t know it, I can’t disappoint them. I have to try and find out.

After I kill myself, people will ask why I did it. I have to give them an answer. Even if I don’t share my reasons with strangers like you, I have to explain them to the people who know me.

No matter how well you explain, they won’t understand. You can read the letter and know it is finished and right but you didn’t just lose a loved one. They won’t read it the same way.

I didn’t think about that.

Well, so what? So lets say I disappoint everybody for once. They’ll live!

Those who lose a loved one to suicide have dramatically higher chances of killing themselves. Those whom you are trying so hard to save trouble; you could kill one or more of them with your explanation.


The only real disappointment you will cause will be as a result of this act. This act, the first truly selfish thing you do for yourself and no one else; the final twisted outcome of your stifled desire to be yourself, to be happy. It can’t bring happiness or peace. So you can write your letter. It won’t work. It just won’t convey your message.


You don’t have to decide tonight. You can just as easily decide to write it again tomorrow morning. No matter the reason for writing it, you must agree there is no hurry to finish it.


I wanted tips on writing a suicide letter. Instead, I was suckered into reading arguments convincing me not to commit suicide at all. None of the similar articles I skimmed in the past spoke to me. Tonight, these ones did. Maybe it’s because I didn’t just skim, I really read them.

It doesn’t actually matter why these were the ones to break through my lust for death. What’s important is the fact that they did. I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to hurt and disappoint the people around me. And I most of all, I don’t want to be a contributing cause of another suicide. Suddenly, I don’t want to kill myself anymore.

Nothing in the articles made the reasons I wanted to die in the first place go away, though. I still don’t want to go on living. Not the way I have been till now. Something has to change.

I flush all the pills down the toilet. I delete all of today’s history and close my browser without saving the session. I have hit rock bottom and survived. Now I begin the journey upwards.

I double click the desktop icon to open a new browser. My homepage appears, comforting in its familiarity. My homepage is Google, naturally. I type in a phrase and hit the enter key, ready to enter a new phase in my life.

Which words do I Google now? I’m sure you can guess, but since you asked, I know you expect an answer. I can’t disappoint.

The query I type into Google is: “How to change my life”.

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Filed under Issue 4, Short Story

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