Sunday, September 05, 2010

Death - more musings

I have written earlier about death, where I stated that I'd like to die now rather than of old age at the end of the natural life cycle.

Recently, I had occasion to think once again about death as a concept and dying as an act, whether by accident or premeditated.

Given that I have to die someday, I felt it would an instructive, interesting and fun exercise to run through some of the different ways I could die and rank them in order of preference.

A few considerations
  • No suicide. Simply because my family wouldn't get the insurance payout in such a case
  • The more instantaneous the death, the better. I have a low threshold for pain inspite of my high desire for death
  • In compiling this list, I'm accounting for the possibility that the methods below may not necessarily result in death. I'm factoring this into the preference rating
  • Obviously, these are purely my views on the subject. You probably have a completely different set of criteria when picking how to die. If so, do share

  • I'll start from the least preferred route to death.

    10. Car accident

    Good: Extremely high likelihood of happening, given the amount of time I spend on the road and the general insanity of every Indian driver. Including me.
    Bad: Cars provide a fairly decent level of protection nowadays. Airbags, and all that. Plus I am inherently a reasonably careful driver. Still, no match for a drunken truck driver.
    Ugly: High chance of life-altering and crippling injury, but no death. Not how I want to spend the rest of my life.
    Bottom line: Highly risky, from the point of view of the kind of death I'm looking for


    9. Fire
    Good: Can't really think of any. Except that your family could claim both life and property insurance. Oh, and that you might just choke to death before you burn to death.
    Bad: Most fires that are likely to break out in the course of my normal life are in places that claim to have good fire systems. And unless it's a really big blaze and one is absolutely trapped, chances of death are minimal
    Ugly: Third degree burns, no balm of death, painful disfigurement, social horror and a ruined life
    Bottom line: Too ugly. The mind and soul quail at the thought of this route


    8. Drowning
    Good: Almost definite to kill you, if you're under long enough. If this occurs in a river, there's the added possibility you'll be crushed by rocks. Just to make sure
    Bad: Unlikely to occur naturally, in the course of my everyday life. While I do visit rivers and waterfalls and seashores and such, they are usually not dangerous enough to drown me. There is the possibility of someone trying to kill me through drowning though - a silver lining
    Ugly: A terribly painful way to go. Having briefly tried it to see what it feels like, I never want to do it again
    Bottom line: The destination is great, the journey not so much


    7. Terrorist attack: bomb blast
    Good: If it's a powerful bomb, it can pretty much blow you to smithereens. Clean and complete
    Bad: Bomb blasts are, mercifully (for the population at large), few. Relatively speaking, of course. I wouldn't want my selfish desire for death to claim other lives, at least not through a means as base as terrorism
    Ugly: Extremely high likelihood of losing just a limb if I'm not within a few metres of the bomb. And the terrorists are unlikely to feed me inside info on the bomb's location, even if they read this blog
    Bottom line: Terrorism is heinous, period. Given this point of view and the likely collateral damage through this method, my conscience can't support this


    6. Falling off a building
    Good: If the building is high enough, one is more or less guaranteed death
    Bad: "High enough" is difficult to guage. My office building only runs to five floors. My apartment complex runs to ten. Will ten guarantee death? Will five? Also, most tall buildings are protected nowadays, with sealed windows and closed terraces. And it would be difficult to prove it wasn't a suicide. People hate me, but not so much as to push me off a building
    Ugly: Anything short of death through this method. Exactly the same downside as a car accident, just more severe
    Bottom line: Seems impractical and unlikely


    5. Knife wound
    Good: Reasonable chance of this happening somewhere, especially if I roam about in dark alleyways at night. I could lose a reasonable amount of blood and thereby die
    Bad: The society around me is more of gun-oriented one, I think. Plus I don't spend much time in dark alleyways in the normal course of things - the most I get about in the dark is the drive from office to home
    Ugly: An incision that isn't deep enough will leave me in terrible pain, bleeding very very slowly (or terribly scarred) but not dead. Which kind of defeats the whole point of the thing for me
    Bottom line: This could go either way


    4. Electrocution
    Good: Given the general state of construction in many of the places I go in and out of (not the mention that my life is ruled by electrical and electronic gadgets), this is a very plausible way to die
    Bad: It would have to be a very decisive bit of electrocution to kill me immediately, not just fry my skin or internal body parts
    Ugly: One word - vegetable
    Bottom line: This, too could go either way


    3. Falling construction material
    Good: In Delhi/Gurgaon, this is always a very real possibility. Maybe a roof will come crashing down when I attend the Commonwealth Games later this year
    Bad: The Metro construction in Gurgaon is coming to an end. And there are no major buildings being built around the areas I visit - the CWG is my only hope
    Ugly: Unless it's a really large and heavy piece of material - such as a multi-ton cement section that can crush my car like a pretty girl crushing a young man's hope - this could go the car accident way. And I'd be out a car.
    Bottom line: Worth a shot, it could very well happen


    2. Gunshot wound (mugger, police cross fire, encounter)
    Good: More blood loss likely than a gun wound. Also more likely to result in near immediate death if aimed right (brain, heart). Plus gun-raj is reasonably prevalent in this neck of the woods, from what I hear and see. And death by gunfire is kind of cool, in a filmy tragic-romantic sense
    Bad: I don't frequent too many places of ill repute and high crime rates (relatively speaking, of course. Gurgaon city's is pretty high as it is.) So while I've seen many gun-toting drivers and such, I don't know if I'll actually be faced with the desired situation in the course of my normal life. If I was, though, I'd probably ask the guy to kill me
    Ugly: There's always the possibility of a slow, agonizing, death. Or just slow agony, if someone finds you before you die
    Bottom line: I like this, but it needs to be done right. I might have to be asked to be killed, but who's the killer going to complain to?


    1. Airplane accident
    Good: Perfect. Near 100% chance of death, especially if mid air or involving two aircraft. In a warped way, a cool, worry-free way to go. And I fly a fair bit on work
    Bad: The probability of dying in an accident if flying one of the world's top 25 airlines is just 1 in 9.2 million, and only 8% of fatal accidents happen mid-flight (Source). The majority of accidents are on the ground with no major casualties.
    Ugly: The other lives that may be lost. Hopefully very very few, ideally none except mine.
    Bottom line: I'm fairly sure this is the way I'd like to go.

    In summary,
    10. Car accident
    9. Fire
    8. Drowning
    7. Terrorist attack
    6. Falling off a building
    5. Knife wound
    4. Falling construction material
    3. Electrocution
    2. Gunshot wound
    1. Airplane accident

    Well, there it is. The problem is that this is all wishful thinking. There's little I can do to hasten one or more of these methods of death without it bordering on suicide, so I just have to continue (a) flying, and (b) living in Haryana and hope that one of the top two on my list, respectively, happens.

    (To my parents and a few others who care: No, I am not going to kill myself. So there's no need to worry, for now.)

    17 comments:

    Praveen said...

    Why so senti......Add marriage to the already listed 11 items and might appear in your no 1 list... :P ...He he ...

    Anonymous said...

    I have contemplated about natural calamities as well while making this list myself...to fill it in your 'format' so as to speak:
    Good: Can't see any positives except if its an unlikely volcano I get burnt into ash by
    Bad: If its something like an earthquake, the death is most likely to be tortuously slow
    Ugly: Much more damage than just my death
    Bottom line: A possibility but Number 11

    AC said...

    @Praveen: That might be too slow and tortuous a death :) Unless, of course, she quickly realises I'm impossible and clubs me to death. Always a valid (and possibly welcome) possibility!

    @Anon: Hmmm, didn't consider natural calamities. A tsunami or earthquake is more likely where I am, I think. Given the potential for large scale destruction, however, I would balk at this... worth having on the list, though.

    octobia said...

    Dorothy Parker said it better than I could:

    Resume

    Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp.
    Guns aren't lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.

    Nandini Vishwanath said...

    @Octobia: I thought of that as I was reading his post :)

    @AC: "Having briefly tried it to see what it feels like, I never want to do it again" - WTF!

    AC said...

    @Octobia: This is great, thanks! Hadn't read this before...

    @Nandu: Yeah, that was some time back. Instructive.

    raja said...

    Hmmm...

    As Ghalib would say "Dil behlaane ke liye Ghalib, ye khayaal achha hai".

    As long as ye khayaal hi rahe, it is ok. Ispe zyaada tavajju ki zaroorat nahin. Jo hona hai, jab hona hai, tab hoga, tab hona hai.

    One thought. When you are thinking about how, if you also decide on the place, could that be called "spot-fixing"?

    AC said...

    Yes, yeh sirf khayaal hain. As I said, I don't intend to intentionally put myself in harm's way just so as to die by one of these methods. I will continue to live my life as normal in the hope that one of these happens in the natural course of things.

    And good one on the PJ :)

    Nandini Vishwanath said...

    Both of you and your PJs!

    PM said...

    Snake bite would be a good option too :)

    AC said...

    True, didn't consider that! If it's a reasonably venomous snake, I'd put snakebite in my top 5.

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    A&N said...

    Wedding ideas? :D Rather telepathic, don't you think ;)

    AC said...

    I'm staying very clear of wedding/marriage stuff for now :)

    Vikram said...

    Slicha creepy... why do you want to kill yourself?

    AC said...

    Eh? I am NOT going to kill myself, as I plainly say in the post. I will NOT die by my own hand. All I'm saying is that if I go before old age naturally finishes me off, these are the ways I'd like to go.