Posted by: Jim | February 6, 2006

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Strange, but True

I just read this story, and am absolutely amazed.

The actual news is the “happy ending” of a woman who just received a face transplant. She looks semi-normal now, which is good. The amazing part of the story is what happened to her.

She was depressed, took sleeping pills, and while she was unconscious, her dog ate her face off. Bad dog! She awoke and couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t keep a cigarette in her mouth. Then she looked in the mirror …

For you dog-lovers out there who find it incredibly cute how your dog licks your face while you’re asleep … now you know what’s really going on.

But this story reminds me of another real-life story that was the subject of my last attempt at short fiction. It’s the true story of a guy who tried to commit suicide with a shotgun, but basically didn’t get off a good shot and managed to shoot his face off. At this point he rushes to find help for himself at a nearby gas station (putting the girl working there in a mental hospital after what she saw.) The Doctor’s rebuilt his face, and the man now runs about his neighborhood scaring children by removing his mask and showing them the horror beneath.

These are two very bizarre but very similar cases. Both have very bizarre and very similar results. Why is it, when suicidal people manage to literally lose their face, they suddenly regain their will to live? Wouldn’t you think that, for this woman, having her dog eat her face off would give her merely addtional reasons to end it all? But instead of finding the nearest blunt object and bashing herself with it, she called 911 and sought help.

Maybe the act of suicide is more linked to the desire to remove one’s identity. Maybe suicide is the desire to end “who” we are instead of “what” we are. In both of these cases, once the face was gone (and the physical reminder of one’s identity) so also is the desire to commit suicide gone.

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