So you can read my books

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Ghost of Hemingway here.
I noticed today as I visited various of your computer journals
that many of you are uniting for a cause:

Suicide Prevention and Awareness -

I committed suicide at the age of sixty-one.

If you are considering suicide ...


Most gut-wrenching problems you encounter will thankfully be short-term ...
although the darkness they give birth to seems to threaten to last forever.
Do not choose a solution for them that is long term and permanent.

The good thing about suicide is that you can always do it tomorrow.

The overlooked thing about suicide is that it is infectious.

There have been five suicides in the Hemingway family over four generations --

my father, Clarence;

my siblings Ursula, Leicester ... myself;

saddest of all, my granddaughter Margaux.

The generation skipped was not. Not really:

My youngest son, Gregory, died in 2001 as a transsexual named Gloria, of causes that make a mockery of the term "natural."

I recall the time that I, in one of my arm-around-shoulder moods,

congratulated him for his fine attempt at a short story, which Greg had stolen word for word from Turgenev --

one of the masters I prided myself on knowing.

Yes, I knew he had done it.

But I was trying to ... to build a bridge I had torn down with my own actions and words.

One moment cast a shadow, one long enough for Greg to write that he was glad that I was dead so "I couldn't disappoint Papa any more."

The moment came on Greg's last visit just after the death of Greg's mother, Pauline.

She died suddenly, about the time Greg had gotten into trouble for taking drugs. I was raw with the loss.

His visit to my home in Cuba went well for a time only because I kept biting my tongue.

Greg confided his plans for medical school. If only he had kept his mouth shut after that, but no, he always had to speak that one word too many.

He spoke of his drug incident.

"It wasn't so bad, really, Papa," he said.

"No? Well, it killed Mother," I said.
He left. I never saw him again.

Anger. Depression.

Those are the monsters you have to kill, not some mindless elephant or lion.

I remember those heads of tigers and lions I kept on my wall. I can still see in my mind the Marlins mounted next to them.

Why? I told reporters because they reminded me of their fierce beauty.

A lie. I thought my mother beautiful.
I kept photographs of her.

I felt a man when I looked at the evidence of my skill, my bravery.


If they held rifles that could shoot back, then I would have been brave.

Tame the anger, the depression in your own soul.

You will bag the biggest, deadliest game in the world.

That is how you prove your worth ...

and save those around you from the poison you would otherwise feed into their souls.
{The photo of Hemingway is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.}


  1. Interesting post, Hemingway and Roland. Some will think it odd that someone who did commit suicide can advise why it's not a good idea. It's a voice from the other side. . .

    Some of us may know that the reasons given for Hemingway were ill health and constant pain, but did it have anything to do with his writing or not writing? Only Hem knows for sure.

    When times have been tough for me, I write in my journal, just to get the roiling thoughts out of my head and onto the paper. It's a way of distancing myself from the emotions.

    Heavy topic, but something that has to be addressed. Some will listen.

  2. Important and wise words. Thanks for posting them.

  3. An important, beautiful post. Thank you for this Roland.

  4. Very interesting, a poignant piece here.

  5. Roland Hemingway, that's great that you joined in on suicide prevention. What haunting advice from beyond the grave. I liked the bit about the good thing about suicide is that you can always do it tomorrow.

  6. D.G.:
    I thought that to look back on your last act and see its long-reaching, tragic consequences would indeed be haunting. We get so tunnel-visioned on our inner pain that we sometimes fail to consider the ramifications of choosing unwisely.

    I believe sleep can distance us just a bit from the sharpness of our grief. If we can just convince ourself to sleep on a drastic decision, it can mean the world to us and those close to us.

    Thank you, Yolanda.

    If it can help just one person to postpone their drastic decision, it will have been worth it.

    Thank you for thinking it worthwhile.

    I tried to place myself into the head of Hemingway, looking back through the years on his drastic decision.

    If we can just convince to delay a day, we stand a chance of healing enough to go on and not hurt others.

  7. I've yet to visit Justine's blog today - Thanks for the reminder.

    A moving post for a touchy subject Roland. This was handled well.

    I loved the quote about loving sleep because life falls apart when awake.


  8. So sad ...

    I didn't know about Hemingway's issues until I had visited Key West earlier this year... He had to have been by polar, and so were the rest of his family. I believe this type of mental illness is hereditary.

    But depression on this level can sometimes be helped with meds. Let's hope these poor, unhappy souls find the peace they need.

    A unique and creative way to address such a sad and important subject.

  9. Donna:
    I was concerned lest some find my treatment of this important subject not to their liking. Still, I wanted to approach it from an angle that might touch a hurting spirit in a way that helped them see their situation from a new perspective. I'm glad you thought it handled well. :-)

    Life does seem to fall apart when awake, doesn't it?

    Being Bi-Polar certainly would explain many things in the Hemingway family. Medication can be such a boon for individuals hurting from this disorder.

    I always try to approach a subject from an angle that will seem fresh. Thanks for liking this post! :-)

  10. A great piece, Roland. I never knew about the hereditary mental illness -- I heard he thought he'd never write anything better than what he already had, and he wanted to go out before his writing suffered.

  11. Milo:
    I heard of others rallying for OUT OF THE DARKNESS, a movement to support suicide prevention and knew I wanted to add my voice.

    Were you aware that Harper Lee only wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD? Years and years passed with no other book. No interviews were ever granted. Many have felt that she feared she could never write anything better or as good.

    As with Hemingway, we will never know for sure why.

  12. Excellent post Roland with a very important message. More people need to be aware.

  13. Thanks, Elise:
    After a 15 hr and 340 mile day yesterday, I have been sleeping most of today. And here it is time to crash to prepare for another work week!

    It means a lot to me that you appreciated my post, Roland

  14. It's hard to imagine the mental path that leads to suicide. A good friend of my mom's recently shot herself, and we were all just stunned and so so deeply sad. Here's hoping the fundraiser-walk raises lots of money for this tragic cause. <3