This is a trope that, at its root, is about finding a way to cut through the Gordian Knot — a time paradox is an insoluble tangle, literally a knot you can’t untie, and you have to take a radical solution. Very literally, these stories present suicide as a kind of shortcut to get to someplace you need to go, or to get out of an impossible situation. It’s the radical solution that fixes everything.
And I worry about presenting suicide that way — since in real life, people commit suicide for similar reasons. Because they are faced with a knot they can’t untie. (Full disclosure: I just went to the memorial the other day for a friend who committed suicide, so this is currently a bit of a hot button issue for me.) Dealing with horrible depression, chronic pain, money problems and heartbreak can feel exactly like your past and future are colliding in a way that makes your present unbearable. Your days repeat endlessly and nothing gets better, and it’s a time loop you can’t break out of. So I do worry about science fiction’s habit of presenting death as the easy escape route from every insoluble paradox.
Charlie Jane Anders at i09