The Rubaiyat: “a suicide’s handbook.”
Suicide: Everything in Perspective.
Header pic – The Suicide, Illustration for Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Elihu Vedder.
1902 – Howard R. Miller shot himself in Chicago and a notebook of quotes from the Rubaiyat was found in his pocket.
1910 – Arthur Newland jumped overboard from a ferry near Mosman and amongst a bundle of papers handed to the police by a witness was a copy of the Rubaiyat.
1911 – Ernest F. Watson shot himself on the banks of the Macquarie River and had quoted the Rubaiyat in a letter to a friend, saying “I cannot go on.”
1921 – Josephine Wilson was found dead in Melbourne, suspected to have killed herself with chloral hydrate. Her belongings included a copy of the Rubaiyat.
1927 – Betty Gottlieb killed herself after murdering her boyfriend H.W. Bannon. The police searched her belongings and found an underlined passage from the Rubaiyat: “And fear not lest Existence closing your Account, and mine, should know the like no more.”
1931 – Edward E. Watts shot himself in Campsie NSW. In letters he sent to his friends prior to his suicide he quoted passages from the Rubaiyat.
1931 – Thomas D. Cosstick was found decapitated after placing his head on the Ballarat railway line . In a letter posted before his death he quoted a passage from the Rubaiyat, ” Tis all a chequer board of nights and days, where destiny with men for pieces plays. Hither and thither moves and mates and stays, And one by one back in the closet lays”
1937 – Beatrice N. Wilson, suspected suicide was found dead in Manila. Investigating police found her copy of the Rubaiyat with underlined passages indicating her depression. Under the “Tamam Shud” that closes the book, Wilson wrote: “Better still – smash one!”
1945 – George Marshall died with a copy of the Rubaiyat found open on his chest, verse 23 underlined “Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend, Before we, too, into the dust descend.
1948 – Carl Webb was found dead on Somerton Beach, a suspected suicide he had a torn slip of paper from the Rubaiyat in his pocket with the two words “Tamam Shud” printed on it, meaning The End. The book was found discarded nearby.
1951 – Colgan J. Bell’s mangled body was found at Adelaide Railway Station. A search of his hotel room revealed a copy of the Rubaiyat. Reports into the case said that the book had become known to police as “The suicide’s handbook.”
1953 – Joan L. Ogilvie was found dead in London following an overdose of Seconal, she had underlined verses 32 and 34 from her copy of the Rubaiyat.
“There was a Door to which I found no Key: There was a Veil past which I could not see: Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE There seemed—and then no more of THEE and ME.Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn: And Lip to Lip it murmur’d—”While you live, Drink!—for once dead you never shall return.”
1974 – The patient in bed in ward 3 looked up at me, his illnesses far too many to be treated, his years an age beyond mine, of his future only hours remaining. But he smiled as I left, weak as he was, and quoted a passage from the Rubaiyat. “Myself was young and did eagerly frequent doctor and saint, and heard great argument about it and about: but evermore came out by the same door as in I went.
Some details lifted from truecrimedetectives.co.uk … one of the more informative sites on this subject.