I’m reposting this response I gave to someone who someone who emailed me a suicide letter in 2012. I’ve gotten a few of these in my career, and have even written one myself. I share this again in the hopes that those facing depression and considering this solution know where I, a guy who has been there and made it through, stand on the topic. I also hope those who don’t understand depression and the desire to seek oblivion will read this and get some perspective, not only on the pain that someone considering suicide could be going through, but how to help them.
If you need help, call someone. Email someone. Talk to someone. ANYONE. Go to Starbucks and talk to a stranger. Don’t sit there alone. Don’t think you have no options. You do.
I’ll give away the ending of this letter:
You don’t want to die. You just want the pain to stop.
Trust me on this. I’ve been exactly where you are. It hurts. My God, it hurts so bad. The entire world — your entire world — has come crashing down around you. You realized the constructs you put in place that serve as relationships were false. You realize that you never truly connected to anyone. You’ve had your heart smashed. You’ve felt pain your entire life, with brief reprieves that came when you felt you found someone (or someones) who understood you; who accepted you.
And that’s gone. And now you’re alone. You’re isolated. You’ve been trapped in a vast expanse of nothing, because you were cut loose. You’ve made damn sure that everyone you know knows you don’t need help. You’re no pussy. You’re strong. You’re in control. And to do that, you’ve put everyone in their place. You’ve kept them at bay. You’ve never told them what’s going on with you. You’ve never asked for help. And when they finally stopped trying to help you, you took that as a sign that they don’t love you and never did.
And you want out. You want it all to go away. You want it to be over. And you think death is the way to achieve that, because nothing you’ve tried and no one you’ve met has ever cauterized the wound in your heart that’s bled since birth.
So you’re going to do something drastic… Something final. And that’s your right (at least, I feel it’s your right. It’s your life, and you own it, and if you feel that you deserve the ability to go out of it on your own terms, in your own way, that’s your choice and I can’t stop you). But here’s something you need to hear, because it’s something you need to know: As you lay there bleeding; as your eyes begin getting too heavy to hold open from the pills; as consciousness begins to fade… You’re going to have a moment that you don’t realize is coming, and when it hits, it’s going to be the most horrific moment you’ve ever experienced:
You’re going to realize you’ve slipped over the edge of a cliff you never actually wanted to jump from, and now you can’t stop. You don’t want to die. You just wanted the pain to stop. You just wanted them all to realize what life would be like without you. You wanted to matter, if only for a moment. And all of that is about to happen, but in the worst way possible, and you feel for the first time that there are alternatives. Sure, you knew all along that there were, but now you actually feel it. It’s in you. It’s clear as a bell. And it’s too late, because you’re about to die with years left on your tab. Regret is going to set in. You’re going to scream and you’re going to cry and you’re going to beg for someone to save you or for the pills to wear off or for your wounds to clot… And they won’t. And your last moment alive will be spent in anguish and regret.
And then it’s over. You’re gone, forever. And we get to pick up the pieces. We get to clean up your blood and handle your remains and pack up your apartment and move your furniture and tell the world of your demise. We get to call everyone in your phone book and tell them what happened, and try to hold back the pain and the tears and the crying as we have to be the strong one in that conversation, over and over.
We get to hold your mother as she cries for days. We get to explain what your last weeks and months are like. We get to figure out, without any real answers, what happened; what we could have done differently. We get to live the rest of our lives knowing we couldn’t save you. And now, we get to live the rest of our lives without you.
Thanks for that, you fucking asshole.
That’s right, I called you an asshole, because right now, you’re being an asshole. You never really wanted to die in the first place, you just wanted the pain to stop.
It can stop. Right now. Right here. All you have to do is talk to us. All you have to do is pick up the phone, no matter how many times you have in the past, and say “I need my friends right now.” All you have to do is ask. We realize you’re hurting. We realize you’re weak right now. We realize you need help, and that you’re not crazy, you just can’t do this yourself. That’s what we are here for.
But you see us as the enemy. You’ve spent the past few weeks or months or even years pushing us away, because you can’t trust anyone. And that’s because you can’t trust yourself. You can’t admit to yourself or anyone else that you are the reason you’re alone right now, because you turned your back on those who love you and every time they chased you, you slapped them away.
Because you feel like you have to. Because you know no better. And it’s just sad that you can’t, because it’s all so easy. All you have to do is put down the blade. Throw away the bottle. Toss the pills. Take the first step. Admit to yourself that you don’t want to die, you just want to stop hurting. Ask for help.
My fear? That this might stop you temporarily, because it filled enough of the hole in you to make you realize you’re not alone; that you’re not unloved… Until it’s not enough. And you convince yourself that I am just saying this to be nice, or because I feel like I have to.
Of course I have to. I love you. You’re human, and you’re here. You’re alive. You have so much potential and so much access to so many wonderful things. You have a thinking mind that conceives of powerful concepts. It’s just turned the wrong way right now. And I feel like I have to at least try to turn it the right way.
Please turn it the right way. Because when you are really honest with yourself in those moments where your fear can’t hide behind bravado, you know you don’t want to die. You just want to stop the pain.
So stop the pain. Call your friends. Get some help. Stop being tough. Start being strong.
Or don’t. I can’t make you, and I can’t stop you from doing what you are about to do. But I hope you won’t. I really, really do. Because I want you around. It’s entirely selfish. I don’t want a life without you in it. I don’t want a world that doesn’t get to have what you bring to the table. But more than that, I don’t want to live the rest of my life knowing that you lived the rest of your life in fear and panic and regret from making a decision you can’t ever come back from, make right, or change your mind about.
But I’m not you. You’re you. You’re the only one who can stop you.
And I think deep down, you do too. Because the truth is — and this is harsh, but there’s no getting around it — you don’t want to die, because if you did… You’d be dead right now.
You’re not. Let’s keep it that way.
I eagerly await your reply. I can’t wait to hear how you feel that suicide is your right. I want badly to hear your side of the discussion; to know why you’ve chosen this path. I want to discuss it with you over coffees had across multiple weeks. I hope we argue about this for years to come, because you’ll be here to argue with me about it.
I don’t know you, but I love you. I have to, or else I woudn’t have just written nearly 2,000 words to you. And you love yourself enough to at least try to reach out. You emailed me. You’re reading this (hopefully). You must care, in some regard, about figuring something out.
That one little bit of hope is the start. Don’t concern yourself with a year from now or a month from now or even tomorrow. Concentrate on right now. You’re here. You’re taking the steps to figure something out.
Don’t stop taking steps. I promise you, as you reach the next intersection, you’ll figure out which way to go. I know, because I have been exactly where you are, and somehow, I did. If I can do it, you can.