So how did I become interested in animal suicide? Ironically, it began with my own death wish.

I'm not really sure whether I can call this irony, since irony usually refers to the contrast between two opposite things. If this isn't irony, what should I call it, then?

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    I think you can call it irony if you want to express the idea that your own attitude to suicide has given rise to your interest for that of animals. Ironically, studying animal suicide you seem to have found a cure for yourself; you are still alive!! – user66974 Dec 11 '14 at 13:35
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    Coincidentally, it began... – SrJoven Dec 11 '14 at 13:37
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    Paradoxically, it began... – Erik Kowal Dec 11 '14 at 13:56
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    No paradox at all @ErikKowal – itsbruce Dec 11 '14 at 14:08
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    (While some might quibble with use of "ironically" above, it's precisely that -- quibbling over meaningless distinctions. Only a language lawyer would read the sentence and take issue with it.) – Hot Licks Dec 11 '14 at 16:52

As you stated, irony is typically featured to draw attention to a contrast, and while it can have varied uses, most of them revolve around saying something one doesn't mean or reversing some kind of expectation.

In the sentence you gave, the idea of being interested in suicide arising from personal, suicidal thoughts should not be surprising or unexpected to the reader, though perhaps not so much as to warrant the use of "expectedly". The connection is certainly interesting, and the use of "interestingly" or "interestingly enough" could work to point out the unusual circumstance. But in the end, that comes down to artistic license.

If the first sentence showed an interest in animal health care, resuscitation, or resurrection, irony would aptly describe the contrast between that and suicidal thoughts, but since the two things are closely and understandably linked, irony doesn't seem to be a solid fit.

One commenter suggests coincidentally, but I disagree, as coincidence describes "when something uncanny, accidental and unexpected happens" or when there is no obvious connection other than time.

Further reading:
http://thatsnotironic.com/ - Turns various definitions and pitfalls and turns makes them digestible.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/irony - Basic definition that could help.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony#Misuse - More common pitfalls

  • So, which word would you suggest? – janoChen Dec 11 '14 at 15:41
  • Coincidence means happening at the same time, too. It doesn't have to be unexpected, but then again, the tendency to use the word "irony" similarly implies an unexpected but related event that contrasts with the current event. Note that thatsnotironic.com points at irony being both coincidental and contradictory... – SrJoven Dec 11 '14 at 15:51
  • @SrJoven Jeez, I checked all those links and other stuff. I still can't decide whether a coincidence can also be an irony. – janoChen Dec 11 '14 at 16:33
  • @SrJoven You're definitely correct about the implied time factor. I mentioned that in my post with "when there is no obvious connection other than time", but that wording is a little convoluted, so my apologies. – Atlantic Dec 11 '14 at 23:40
  • @janoChen The key thing to keep in mind is that irony primarily deals with contrasts or contradictions. Consider sarcasm, a form of irony. "Oh yeah, I love anchovies", as a sarcastic remark, the speaker is saying one thing, but means the opposite. Coincidence, on the other hand, deals with unrelated events that are made to seem related. The two can almost never be used to describe the same situation. Being that the death wish is connected to the interest in animal suicide, I personally would not consider it a coincidence. – Atlantic Dec 11 '14 at 23:48

You can make it ironic by changing your second sentence. Something like "Ironically, it began just as I finally got over my own death wish" or so.

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