SUICIDE IS, OF COURSE, an indefensible act. But surely there are extenuating circumstances which merit, at least, the grace of Christian burial and not, as in olden times, that midnight interment at a lonely crossroads without benefit of bell, book, and candle, with a stake through the poor wretch's heart. I shed no tears for the stockbroker who, having lost his fortune in a market gamble, throws himself out of the nearest tenth-story window, or for the embezzler who, rather than face the clients he has defrauded, puts a bullet in his brain. But there are other instances which cannot be so easily dismissed as "the coward's way out."
Many times, through my association with the Camden police office, I was called upon to view the bodies of those unfortunates, the lost souls of this great city, who had died by their own act, and now lay rigid and pitiful, upon the cold marble of the mortuary slab. For those who seek an adventure in realism, a salutary lesson in the vanity of human wishes, nothing more suitable could be recommended than a periodic visit to the Metropolitan Morgue.
An old woman fished out from the Serpentine, a sodden bundle of rags, bloated from long immersion, yet starved, destitute -- there was not a penny in her tattered purse -- one of life's lost people; I never even knew her name. I remember also that ex-corporal of World War I, badly shell-shocked, in and out of hospitals for fifteen years, martyred perpetually by his nerves -- we found him hanged, by his braces, in a Nottinghill doss house. Nor shall I readily forget