River of Doubt

When Teddy Roosevelt’s 1913-1914 expedition down Brazil’s uncharted and treacherous River of Doubt* got into such serious trouble that it became doubtful anyone would survive, Teddy had an out.

He had packed a fatal dose of morphine to kill himself quickly if need be.

Getting morphine and other killer drugs was not difficult in those faraway days.

Now government, in league with the sanctimonious, has locked the medicine cabinet, making it more difficult — and more messy at times — to do yourself in.

Some years back a good friend came down with cancer. He was a smart man who looked to the future. During a mining career in his younger days, he had access to cyanide. Like Roosevelt, he squirreled some away.

His cancer, uncharacteristically, was not accompanied by extreme pain, but he grew weaker and weaker. One night he took the cyanide and died peacefully.

That he could do so was a grand thing.

It turned out that Roosevelt did not need that morphine, and his expedition into the Amazonian jungle — filled with Stone Age Indians, insect swarms, snakes and piranhas — survived.

No one knows when he will sail down a similar River of Doubt.

And nobody has the right to stop you from killing yourself. It is a personal decision.

* * * *

* Later renamed the Rio Roosevelt.

26 thoughts on “River of Doubt”

  1. Nailed that one well, young sir. I have a letter witnessed by a lawyer and a solemn promise from my kids that I cannot be kept alive by any mechanical means whatsoever. It’s not enough, but it is the best I can do. You should have the right to die with dignity.


  2. That’s exactly what the dinner table discussion has been here. I just don’t want to hurt when it’s time to ascend the Milky Way in my ceremonial canoe.


  3. A timely post for me dear neighbour as our beloved dog of almost 17 years died on mother’s day, in our arms in his home with the kind help of his vet who came to our boat to aid in his journey to death….peaceful and good. We should be free to do this for ourselves and each other. Henriette


  4. It’s strange how we can have compassion for our pets by not allowing them to suffer and yet we can’t give the same dignity to people suffering from terminal illness if they so choose.


  5. Oh, no, you can’t! The Govmint knows better.

    Sadly, Dr. Jack Kevorkian helped many people die with dignity and what did they do to him? Locked him up.

    Need to round up these bunches of do-gooders and line them up in front of a concrete wall. I would volunteer to count.


  6. Yes, it’s off topic or so I think.

    I noticed the site changed again, after the change in website appearance. I like it better now then the initial change, more readable for one, great for narrow ipad, also.
    But, there is not a place (could not find anyway after checking all I could) for guest’s comments/sigs… Did you just take that away totally? But really something like sort of — a death. Or did I miss it. If so is there a reconciliation


    1. Andean: Since switching to this fresh white suit I have not changed anything — with one exception: I shortened the names of the links in the header. As for the guest “comments/sigs,” I’m not sure what you are referring to. The guestbook? If so, yes, that is gone. This WordPress theme does not permit anything at all in the side columns. It is meant to be uncluttered, and it does that with a vengeance.


  7. You can still safely, easily, and painlessly do yourself in. Helium of the kind provided for party balloons is all you need.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we think suicide should be a fundamental right.


      1. Just Google “helium suicide” and you will find reams of info.

        Hint: breathing helium has a similar result (though via a different chemistry) to breathing carbon monoxide.

        Kim G


        1. Kim: I did just that, thanks. I also see that there are beginning to be calls for the sale of helium to be restricted for that very reason. The government and the sanctimonious simply will not mind their own business.


  8. I have no argument with your basic premise. However, I think the idea of dying “peacefully” or with “dignity” is false–at least from what I’ve seen. You will fight for your last breath, and you will soil yourself. Not much dignity in that.


    1. Ray: I have never been witness to anyone’s moment of death, but I am reasonably certain that it can happen in a variety of ways. I betcha some have more peace and dignity than others. In short, it varies.

      But the fact that it can be quite unpleasant does not negate the fact that one should be able to get it over with if that is what one wishes. And the government should butt out.


  9. Sr – first time in a while that we agree on a subject completely! I also thought Dr. Kervorkian was a good man…what they did to him was a travesty. The government should have absolutely no say in our our personal choices…right-to-die, abortion, gay marriage, whatever. I would much rather sit on a beautiful beach with a bottle of pills than have my last view of the world be a hospice room with sterile white walls…


  10. We were ruminating on this a few weekends ago…
    My take on the easiest, painless and cleanest way to go… Pick a lovely day.
    Go down to the liquor store and buy a bottle of smooth tasting liquor.
    Then go down close to the lake and sit on a bench by the waterside, and while sipping the
    chosen liquor, watch the final setting sun. When you are thoroughly
    without feeling from the liquor, fold your coat, sweater and excess outer clothing, thank your Creator for the life you have lived up til now, slip off your shoes and walk into the water, deeper and deeper. You won’t feel
    the cold or the wet or anything, since the alcohol removes all feelings..
    You can’t even feel the water on your skin. Go deeper,
    and gradually float out further and further…. In a few minutes it will all
    be over and you will meet ‘your Maker’… No pain, no strain… Those who find you will be grateful at what a clean body they have to handle.
    I just can’t understand why anyone would want to shoot themselves, poison themselves, or do other damage to the inside or outside of the body they have been given for their lifetimes. Poor Kevorkian… I always felt for him, but his idea of letting go of life was too ‘public’. Maybe this sounds too morbid, but at 83 and in great health, I’m like your other responders… lying in a hospital room dying by inches, day by day, month by month, year by year… totally unacceptable, unless a stroke or severe disability disables one’s ability to do for one’s self. Then you have no choice. I hope the above is something worth thinking about while you can still think. -smile-
    Bye. Frankie


    1. Frankie: I’m not so sure that drowning yourself, even while drunk, is so easy to do as you think. As for Kevorkian, I believe the public manner in which he operated was intentional. He was trying to publicize the issue. And he certainly did.

      Thanks for the feedback.


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