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Death By Own Conviction
By Venancio J. Tesoro, Penal Superintendent IV of the Bureau of Corrections
Published: 08/18/2014

Gloomy Actor extraordinaire Robin Williams at 63 passed away in his own way in a manner of speaking. Unlike one-time top ten singer Del Shannon who eventually became bankrupt and despondent after he was literally ignored by music industry, Williams never had such kind of situation. As a matter of fact, he was a sought after talent—a voice actor (he was Genie in animated blockbuster Aladin), he was a multi-awarded thespian (having starred in several outstanding movies), he had a good family and a doting daughter. He had almost everything any human being can wish for. He even diverted his fortune in favor of a philanthropic foundation. He never tasted penury except in some roles or in some characters he would assume in films. He was a candidate, barring ailments and accidents, to reach the century mark.

Like literary great Ernest Hemingway, Williams had a similar understanding on living too. For them, life must end, if not allowed by his Creator, at least they had the option to fulfil it. For Hemmingway, he aimed his gun in his mouth and that was it; for Williams, it was, according to the coroner, through asphyxia, a technical term for hanging by the rope.

Suicide likewise was undertaken not only by ordinary men and women, like Japanese soldiers on Kamikaze mission or terrorists with their fanatical resolve but geniuses as well, like Williams. There was Seneca, the philosopher on whose doctrines the Stoic movement grew until his government prodded him to kill himself than be sent to the gallows. Then there was great artist Vincent Van Gogh, unable to see his works recognized, got into fits of depression and concluded life at the age of 27. The man behind Kodak films, George Eastman, who invented flexible fill rolls and advanced photography, convinced himself that he had contributed something to humanity and said goodbye.

Sigmund Freud, an outstanding scientist, who created psychoanalysis and made life progressively enlightening, could no longer sustain life under pain of ailment (cancer due to smoking), pleaded his fellow physician to assist him to end pain and life. And literary great Virgina Woolf, prodigious writer too advance in her style and fiction never went further to explore more, threw herself in the lake and was greeted in life hereafter.

There are those who lament the passing away of great men and women through self destruction. Some would intend to end it for vanity sake. Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, along with James Dean may never have wanted to be remembered as greying and deteriorating, preserving their youth and beauty. Bruce Lee and Whitney Houston may have had a similar persuasion. They had seen life, enjoyed it and submitted that it was already curtain time. In their minds probably, they believed that no one would live forever and that time would come when they would be claimed just the same. They merely hastened the process according to their will.

It is ending to project a beginning. It takes a hardened resolve to do it. Suicide is not for ordinary mortals.

I thank my stars for being ordinary.

Reprinted with permission from philippineprisons.com

Other articles by Tesoro

Venancio J. Tesoro is presently Penal Superintendent IV of the Bureau of Corrections and has written several books on Criminal Justice Administration (specifically Corrections). He is also an academician, Criminology Board Reviewer, public speaker and a certified lecturer of Penology.


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