The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

August 29, 2013

Sportswriter’s suicide chronicled in blog

ENID, Okla. — Life is never easy.

In the immortal words of Roseanne Rosannadanna, the character portrayed on “Saturday Night Live,” by the late Gilda Radner, “It’s always something.”

Life leaves none of us unscathed. It is a journey along a meandering road marked by potholes, detours and occasional breakdowns.

There are joys galore, to be sure, but there is heartbreak, disappointment and tragedy, as well.

But all of it, the good and the bad, are part and parcel of the fabric of life. The bad days help us to be able to better appreciate the good ones.

For some, life is much tougher than for others. There are people who live with physical and mental infirmities that seem nearly insurmountable to others, yet they persevere.

Others are blessed with good health, good friends and good times in abundance.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

By all accounts, that was the case with Martin Manley.

He denied being depressed, describing himself as happy and in good health.

He had no money problems and he claimed he wasn’t lonely, though he was twice divorced and had no children, nieces or nephews.

He sang in his church’s choir, had plenty of friends and enjoyed hobbies like his monthly poker game.

That was then. Now, Martin Manley is dead.

Manley did not succumb to disease or accident. Likewise he was not murdered.

Instead, he took his own life, and spent the year prior to his suicide putting together a website set to publish the day he died, an extensive blog chronicling his self-imposed journey into death.

The blog site was posted on Yahoo, which quickly took it down. The hacker group Anonymous later resurrected it.

The site is divided into 34 categories and 44 subcategories, chronicling Manley’s life and his march to suicide.

At 5 a.m. on Aug. 15, his 60th birthday, Manley entered a police station parking lot in Overland Park, Kan., where he lived.

He walked to a spot beneath a tree on the far south end of the lot,  pulled out his phone and dialed 911.

“I want to report a suicide at the south end of the parking lot of the Overland Park Police Station at 123rd and Metcalf.”

Then he took out a .380 pistol and shot himself in the head.

His reasoning? He thought 60 years of life were plenty. He thought his most productive, happiest years were behind him.

He was afraid of the infirmity of old age and wanted to control his own death.

How terribly sad.

I see parallels between Manley and myself. He was 60. I am 60.

He was a former sports writer, as am I. He sang in his church choir, as do I.

The difference is, I don’t think my 60-plus years are near enough.

Granted, I am not as young as I used to be. More things than I care to admit are beginning to sag, to wrinkle, to ache, to turn gray.

But I’m not finished yet. There are too many things I still want to do and see.

I love to travel, and can’t wait to see what’s coming over the next hill. The same is true of the road of life.

Besides, I don’t think it is our place to decide how long we will live. That’s God’s purview.

Manley began his site with an apology. “I’m sorry, very sorry for the pain I will have caused by my actions. Maybe someday you will come to understand ... better.

“Lastly, at some point in reading this site you would have asked whether I was ultimately satisfied with my life, so I decided this was the best place to address it,” Manley said. “I suspect nobody is completely satisfied and I’m no different. No, I wasn’t fully satisfied with my life, but I was fully satisfied with my death!”

Suicide is not the answer.

If you are considering taking your own life, please talk to your family, friends, clergy or a medical professional.

Barring that, call the national suicide hotline, (800) 784-2433 or (800) 273-8255, or the Reachout National Hotline at (800) 522-9054.

Do not do something those who love you will regret for the rest of their lives.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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