Will H Moore was a professor of Political Science at Arizona State University. On Wednesday, he posted Punched Out on his blog Will Opines. It was a shockingly calm and rational suicide note. I wasn’t even sure it was for real, but Inside Higher Ed confirmed that he had, Professor Shares Suicide Note on Blog. A friend sent it to me saying that she feared that it read rather too much like me and that I might some day do this.
It’s interesting to read the blog post because it is neither whiny nor sad. I suppose there is a certain amount of resignation in it. But it shows how a person’s situation isn’t what matters but how they experience it. Professor Moore even seems to understand that his suicide is the act of a privileged man. The blog post would be less ambiguously titled “clocked out,” because that’s what he’s doing — he’s done with life in the same way that a factory worker is done with a day of work. (He is explicit about this.)
To Write Is to Live
But the suicide note itself shows how different Moore is from me. I can’t imagine writing a suicide note. If I still have the will to communicate, then I will keep on. Just the same, much of what he wrote was chillingly familiar. But it seemed to be more me of a couple of decades ago. I spent a good decade of my life trying to kill myself through other means. And I survived in a way that has made me, I think, a better person. At least I can say this: I like myself more than the man I used to be. And more important: I like myself more now and I liked myself then.
Professor Moore mentions that on the Meyer-Briggs test, he always scored (IE)NTJ. That is: he was sometimes introverted and sometimes extroverted. N stands for intuition (vs sensing). T is for thinking (vs feeling). And J is for judgement (vs perception). When I was younger, I was a solid INTP, but over the years, my T score fell to the point where I am now solidly INFP. But I feel certain that I would have liked Moore. I have had a lot of (IE)NTJ friends over the years. They’re more grounded than I am. I suppose I add a little color to their lives and they add a little stability to mine.
Why Did Professor Moore Do It?
Put simply, Moore’s reason for suicide is that he needs to produce or he falls into depression. But in order to produce, he must interact with people, which he finds painful. He said that he was borderline autistic — having great difficulty understanding why other people acted as they do. This is the one place where I feel most distant from him. To me, the abyss is my friend. I think I’m somewhat like Emily Dickinson. I’d love to be well known and widely read; but I’m fine just producing for me, and when I’m gone, the abyss.
Of course, I don’t believe that this is why Professor Moore killed himself. I don’t think there are reasons. The drive is there and then we make up the reasons. But it certainly doesn’t seem like this is a momentary fancy on his part. Whatever private suffering he was experiencing, it is gone now. It’s sad for those who loved him. But the old Christian platitude is one that I fully accept because I think that death is simply the absence of suffering: he is in a better place now.