On Understanding Suicide

Voices of suffering…

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”
— Albert Camus

“The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive. He goes to work because he doesn’t have to.”
— Walker Percy

“A book is a suicide postponed.”
— Emil Cioran

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”
— Ned Vizzini

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’ can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
— David Foster Wallace

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
— Tennessee Williams

“Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.”
— Sally Brampton

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn’t mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank — but that’s not the same thing.”
— Joseph Conrad

“Anne, I don’t want to live. . . . Now listen, life is lovely, but I Can’t Live It. I can’t even explain. I know how silly it sounds . . . but if you knew how it Felt. To be alive, yes, alive, but not be able to live it. Ay that’s the rub. I am like a stone that lives . . . locked outside of all that’s real. . . . Anne, do you know of such things, can you hear???? I wish, or think I wish, that I were dying of something for then I could be brave, but to be not dying, and yet . . . and yet to [be] behind a wall, watching everyone fit in where I can’t, to talk behind a gray foggy wall, to live but to not reach or to reach wrong . . . to do it all wrong . . . believe me, (can you?) . . . what’s wrong. I want to belong. I’m like a Jew who ends up in the wrong country. I’m not a part. I’m not a member. I’m frozen.”
— Anne Sexton

“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”
— Hermann Hesse, “Siddhartha”

“If they tell you that she died of sleeping pills you must know that she died of a wasting grief, of a slow bleeding at the soul.”
— Clifford Odets

“The language of love letters is the same as suicide notes.”
— Courtney Love

“Suicide only really frightens those who are never tempted by it and never will be, for its darkness only welcomes those who are predestined to it.”
— Georges Bernanos

“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.”
— Juliette Lewis

“I am not well; I could have built the Pyramids with the effort it takes me to cling on to life and reason.”

— Franz Kafka, “Letters To Felice”

“What a weary time those years were — to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.”

— Charles Bukowski, “Ham on Rye”

“In my view, suicide is not really a wish for life to end. What is it then? It is the only way a powerless person can find to make everybody else look away from his shame. The wish is not to die, but to hide.”
— Orson Scott Card

“People try to say suicide is the most cowardly act a man could ever commit. I don’t think that’s true at all. What’s cowardly is treating a man so badly that he wants to commit suicide.”
— Tommy Tran

“Dear Anyone Who Finds This, Do not blame the drugs.”
— Lynda Barry

“To be or not to be. That’s not really a question.”
— Jean-Luc Godard