Suicide Television

By Joseph Logsdon

Gordon stared into the canyon. Entirely surrounded by cameras, he only thought about how his death would impact the people watching him: it would shock them, horrify them, and probably send chills up their spines. From cover to cover, coast to coast, country to country, his name would overshadow all of the important headlines. It was the perfect time to commit suicide.

With the cameras rolling, Gordon silently made his peace. The host of the show, Veronica Smith, stared directly into the cameras. Every aspect of her face, the nose, eyes, and mouth, were captured in a very calculated way. The camera loved her; she loved the camera. Back and forth, from left to right, her dark hair continuously swayed. Gordon coughed, plagued by fear and doubt. Thoughts of death, not to mention many other things, consumed his heart and soul.

"I'm Veronica Smith, your host for the next few minutes. In today's episode, another man will be taking his own life. I know what you're thinking: 'Why would a guy who's young, incredibly handsome, probably has a lot of money, want to kill himself?' Well, this man, especially of late, has been feeling really depressed. Hey, don't take it from me; take it from our contestant, the reason we're all here, Gordon James. So, why did you decide to be on our show? Wealth? Fame? Did you break up with your girlfriend? We know about your depression; you might as well tell us the rest of it," Veronica stated, placing the microphone near his mouth.

"When you're six feet underground, do you really think any of that matters? I don't know why I'm doing it. I see hypocrisy everywhere, literally everywhere. This show, for your information, is an offense to God. You're glorifying suicide, like it's something to be proud of. Am I a monkey? Is that what you think of me? Tell your viewers that every moment that this program is on, they will become more and more desensitized. That's what television does, desensitizes people to the point that should something awful ever truly happen, people won't be able to recognize the problem. That kind of culture, I'll have you know, is the worst prison imaginable," he hissed.

Veronica stared at Gordon, stunned by his sudden outburst. The crew continued recording, strangely unfazed by the unpredictable incident. Gordon walked towards the edge of the cliff, for the first time doubtful of his decision.

"Why are you even letting us film you? This show was created for people who feel like they've been ignored by society. You were picked because you had something that the others didn't have: you had character, flawless vigor, this type of loving sensibility that couldn't be matched anywhere, by anyone, at any given time. We chose you because among all of the people interviewed, you were the only one with any real personality; you can take that to the bank," Veronica hissed.

"I didn't ask for your opinion. You're the host of this show, not the manager. How could I have allowed the producers, people I barely know, to take advantage of me? You caught me at a very bad time in my life, as chance would have it. I signed on too fast, too soon, too quick," Gordon moaned.

"Are you going to jump off that cliff, or do I have to tell everyone that you chickened out?"

Gordon took another step towards the cliff. Very near the end of his life, Gordon thought about the things that were once important to him: his family, friends, all of the people who believed in him. They had stabbed him in the back, every last one of them.

"Your desire to jump, what could be called an act of courage, will provide the world with great entertainment. You want to die; I can see the longing in your eyes. Go ahead, jump, make your mark on the world," Veronica encouraged.

The doubt slowly crept into his heart. Just one more step, that's all it would take. Something inside Gordon kept him from truly fulfilling his greatest desire. It was beyond rationality, certainly beyond explanation. On a simple impulse, Gordon slowly stepped away from danger.

"What are you, chicken?"

"It isn't my time, is all. The show's over; I would recommend that all of you go home," Gordon suggested.

The cameras kept recording. There was a long, blistering silence, equivalent to that of death. Veronica pulled out a gun, in a desperate attempt to take control of a situation that, in her view, had gotten out of hand.

"You're going off the edge of that cliff, one way or the other," she hissed.

"Are you insane?"

"Maybe I am; I don't know anymore. It's less a question of insanity, more a question of money, wouldn't you say? We've spent all we have on this broadcast. Someone's going into the canyon, and speaking from past history, it isn't going to be me," she roared.

Gordon sighed as the two bullets impacted his chest. His feet instantly failed him, and in the blink of an eye, he was in midair. The cameras followed his swift plunge, mostly focused on the terrible expressions that he produced. There was an intense scream, unlike anything any of them had ever heard. The scream, loud as it was, slowly faded into quietness.

"The silence is exactly that: silent," Veronica chuckled.

The End