Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

timterrace___Flickr_-_Photo_Sharing_This happy-looking shot was taken in 1999, when I almost destroyed myself.

In this post, I’m going to talk about suicide, and why I’m still on this planet.

These are stories I’ve kept secret from my family, girlfriends, and closest friends for years. Recently, however, I had an experience that shook me — woke me up — and I decided that it was time to share it all.

So, despite the shame I might feel, the fear that is making my palms sweat as I type this, allow me to get started.

Here we go…


“Could you please sign this for my brother? It would mean a lot to him.”

He was a kind fan. There were perhaps a dozen people around me asking questions, and he had politely waited his turn. The ask: A simple signature.

It was Friday night, around 7pm, and a live recording of the TWiST podcast had just ended. There was electricity in the air. Jason Calacanis, the host and interviewer, sure knows how to put on a show. He’d hyped up the crowd and kept things rolling for more than 2 hours on stage, asking me every imaginable question. The venue–Pivotal Labs’ offices in downtown SF–had been packed to capacity. Now, more than 200 people were milling about, drinking wine, or heading off for their weekends.

A handful of attendees gathered near the mics for pics and book inscriptions.

“Anything in particular you’d like me to say to him? To your brother?” I asked this one gent, who was immaculately dressed in a suit. His name was Silas.

He froze for few seconds but kept eye contact. I saw his eyes flutter. There was something unusual that I couldn’t put a finger on.

I decided to take the pressure off: “I’m sure I can come up with something. Are you cool with that?” Silas nodded.

I wrote a few lines, added a smiley face, signed the book he’d brought, and handed it back. He thanked me and backed out of the crowd. I waived and returned to chatting with the others.

Roughly 30 minutes later, I had to run. My girlfriend had just landed at SFO and I needed to meet her for dinner. I started walking towards the elevators.

“Excuse me, Tim?” It was Silas. He’d been waiting for me. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure,” I said, “but walk with me.”

We meandered around tables and desks to the relative privacy of the elevator vestibule, and I hit the Down button. As soon as Silas started his story, I forgot about the elevator.

He apologized for freezing earlier, for not having an answer. His younger brother–the one I signed the book for–had recently committed suicide. He was 22.

“He looked up to you,” Silas explained, “He loved listening to you and Joe Rogan. I wanted to get your signature for him. I’m going to put this in his room.” He gestured to the book. I could see tears welling up in his eyes, and I felt my own doing the same. He continued.

“People listen to you. Have you ever thought about talking about these things? About suicide or depression? You might be able to save someone.” Now, it was my turn to stare at him blankly. I didn’t know what to say.

I also didn’t have an excuse. Unbeknownst to him, I had every reason to talk about suicide. I’d only skimmed the surface with a few short posts about depression.

Some of my closest high school friends killed themselves.

Some of my closest college friends killed themselves.

I almost killed myself.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said to Silas. I wondered if he’d waited more than three hours just to tell me this. I suspected he had. Good for him. He had bigger balls than I. Certainly, I’d failed his brother by being such a coward in my writing. How many others had I failed? These questions swam in my mind.

“I will write about this” I said to Silas, awkwardly patting his shoulder. I was thrown off. “I promise.”

And with that, I got into the elevator.


“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

– Mexican proverb

There are some secrets we don’t share because they’re embarrassing.

Like that time I met an icon by accidentally hitting on his girlfriend at a coffee shop? That’s a good one (Sorry, N!). Or the time a celebrity panelist borrowed my laptop to project a boring corporate video, and a flicker of porn popped up–a la Fight Club–in front of a crowd of 400 people? Another good example.

But then there are dark secrets. The things we tell no one. The shadows we keep covered for fear of unraveling our lives.

For me, 1999 was full of shadows.

So much so that I never wanted to revisit them.

I hadn’t talked about this traumatic period publicly until last week, first in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), then in greater depth on Derek Halpern’s podcast.

What follows is the sequence of my downward spiral.

Reading the below, it’s incredible how trivial some of it seems in retrospect. At the time, though, it was the perfect storm.

I include wording like “impossible situation,” which was reflective of my thinking at the time, not objective reality.

I still vividly recall these events, but any quotes are paraphrased. Please also excuse any grammatical/tense errors, as it was hard for me to put this down. So, starting where it began…

  • It’s my senior year at Princeton. I’m slated to graduate around June of 1999. Somewhere in the first six months, several things happen in the span of a few weeks:
  • I fail to make it to final interviews for McKinsey Consulting and Trilogy Software, in addition to others. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, and I start losing confidence after “winning” in the game of academics for so long.
  • A long-term (for a college kid, anyway) girlfriend breaks up with me shortly thereafter. Not because of the job stuff, but because I became more insecure during that period, wanted more time with her, and was massively disruptive to her final varsity sports season. What’s wrong with me?
  • I have a fateful meeting with one of my thesis advisors in the East Asian Studies department. Having read a partial draft of my work, he presents a large stack of original research in Japanese for me to incorporate. I walk out with my head spinning — how am I going to finish this thesis (which generally run 60-100 pages or more) before graduation? What am I going to do?

It’s important to note that at Princeton, the senior thesis is largely viewed as the pinnacle of your four-year undergrad career. That’s reflected in its grading. The thesis is often worth around 25% of your entire departmental GPA (English department example here).

After all of the above, things continued as follows…

  • I find a rescue option! In the course of researching language learning for the thesis, I’m introduced to a wonderful PhD who works at Berlitz International. Bernie was his name. We have a late dinner one night on Witherspoon Street in Princeton. He speaks multiple languages and is a nerd, just like me. One hour turns into two, which turns into three. At the end, he says, “You know, it’s too bad you’re graduating in a few months. I have a project that would be perfect for you, but it’s starting sooner.” This could be exactly the solution I’m looking for!
  • I chat with my parents about potentially taking a year off, beginning in the middle of my senior year. This would allow me time to finish and polish the thesis, while simultaneously testing jobs in the “real world.” It seems like a huge win-win, and my parents— to their credit —are hugely supportive.
  • The Princeton powers OK the idea, and I meet with the aforementioned thesis advisor to inform him of my decision. Instead of being happy that I’m taking time to get the thesis right (what I expected), he seems furious: “So you’re just going to quit?! To cop out?! This better be the best thesis I’ve ever seen in my life.” In my stressed out state, and in the exchange that follows, I hear a series of thinly veiled threats and ultimatums… but no professor would actually do that, right? The meeting ends with a dismissive laugh and a curt “Good luck.” I’m crushed and wander out in a daze.
  • Once I’ve regained my composure, my shock turns to anger. How could a thesis advisor threaten a student with a bad grade just because they’re taking time off? I knew my thesis wouldn’t be “the best thesis” he’d ever seen, so it was practically a guarantee of a bad grade, even if I did a great job. This would be obvious to anyone, right?
  • I meet with multiple people in the Princeton administration, and the response is — simply put — “He wouldn’t do that.” I’m speechless. Am I being called a liar? Why would I lie? What was my incentive? It seemed like no one was willing to rock the boat with a senior (I think tenured) professor. I’m speechless and feel betrayed. Faculty politics matter more than I do.
  • I leave my friends behind at school and move off campus to work — I find out remotely — for Berlitz. “Remote” means I end up working at home by myself. This is a recipe for disaster. The work is rewarding, but I spend all of my non-work time — from when I wake to when I go to bed — looking at hundreds of pages of thesis notes and research spread out on my bedroom floor. It’s an uncontainable mess.
  • After 2-3 months of attempting to incorporate my advisor’s original-language Japanese research, the thesis is a disaster. Despite (or perhaps because of) staring at paper alone for 8-16 hours a day, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of false starts, dead ends, and research that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Totally unusable. I am, without a doubt, in worse shape than when I left school.
  • My friends are graduating, celebrating, and leaving Princeton behind. I am sitting in a condo off campus, trapped in an impossible situation. My thesis work is going nowhere, and even if it turns out spectacular, I have (in my mind) a vindictive advisor who’s going to burn me. By burning me, he’ll destroy everything I’ve sacrificed for since high school: great grades in high school got me to Princeton, great grades in Princeton should get me to a dream job, etc. By burning me, he’ll make Princeton’s astronomical tuition wasted money, nothing more than a small fortune my family has pissed away. I start sleeping in until 2 or 3pm. I can’t face the piles of unfinished work surrounding me. My coping mechanism is to cover myself in sheets, minimize time awake, and hope for a miracle.
  • No miracle arrives. Then one afternoon, as I’m wandering through a Barnes and Noble with no goal in particular, I chance upon a book about suicide. Right there in front of me on a display table. Perhaps this is the “miracle”? I sit down and read the entire book, taking copious notes into a journal, including other books listed in the bibliography. For the first time in ages, I’m excited about research. In a sea of uncertainty and hopeless situations, I feel like I’ve found hope: the final solution.
  • I return to Princeton campus. This time, I go straight to Firestone Library to check out all of the suicide-related books on my to-do list. One particularly promising-sounding title is out, so I reserve it. I’ll be next in line when it comes back. I wonder what poor bastard is reading it, and if they’ll be able to return it.
  • It’s important to mention here that, by this point, I was past deciding. The decision was obvious to me. I’d somehow failed, painted myself into this ridiculous corner, wasted a fortune on a school that didn’t care about me, and what would be the point of doing otherwise? To repeat these types of mistakes forever? To be a hopeless burden to myself and my family and friends? Fuck that. The world was better off without a loser who couldn’t figure this basic shit out. What would I ever contribute? Nothing. So the decision was made, and I was in full-on planning mode.
  • In this case, I was dangerously good at planning. I had 4-6 scenarios all spec’d out, start to finish, including collaborators and covers when needed. And that’s when I got the phone call.
  • [My mom?! That wasn’t in the plan.]
  • I’d forgotten that Firestone Library now had my family home address on file, as I’d technically taken a year of absence. This meant a note was mailed to my parents, something along the lines of “Good news! The suicide book you requested is now available at the library for pick up!”
  • Oops (and thank fucking God).
  • Suddenly caught on the phone with my mom, I was unprepared. She nervously asked about the book, so I thought fast and lied: “Oh, no need to worry about that. Sorry! One of my friends goes to Rutgers and didn’t have access to Firestone, so I reserved it for him. He’s writing about depression and stuff.”
  • I was shocked out of my own delusion by a one-in-a-million accident. It was only then that I realized something: my death wasn’t just about me. It would completely destroy the lives of those I cared most about. I imagined my mom, who had no part in creating my thesis mess, suffering until her dying day, blaming herself.
  • The very next week, I decided to take the rest of my “year off” truly off (to hell with the thesis) and focus on physical and mental health. That’s how the entire “sumo” story of the 1999 Chinese Kickboxing (Sanshou) Championships came to be, if you’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek.
  • Months later, after focusing on my body instead of being trapped in my head, things were much clearer. Everything seemed more manageable. The “hopeless” situation seemed like shitty luck but nothing permanent.
  • I returned to Princeton, turned in my now-finished thesis to my still-sour advisor, got chewed up in my thesis defense, and didn’t give a fuck. It wasn’t the best thesis he’d ever read, nor the best thing I’d ever written, but I had moved on.
  • Many thanks are due to a few people who helped me regain my confidence that final semester. None of them have heard this story, but I’d like to give them credit here. Among others: My parents and family (of course), Professor Ed Zschau, Professor John McPhee, Sympoh dance troupe, and my friends at the amazing Terrace Food Club.
  • I graduated with the class of 2000, and bid goodbye to Nassau Hall. I rarely go back, as you might imagine.

Given the purported jump in “suicidal gestures” at Princeton and its close cousins (Harvard appears to have 2x the national average for undergrad suicides), I hope the administration is taking things seriously.  If nearly half of your student population reports feeling depressed, there might be systemic issues to fix.

Left unfixed, you’ll have more dead kids on your hands, guaranteed.

It’s not enough to wait for people to reach out, or to request that at-risk kids take a leave of absence “off the clock” of the university.

Perhaps regularly reach out to the entire student body to catch people before they fall?  It could be as simple as email.

[Sidenote: After graduating, I promised myself that I would never write anything longer than an email ever again. Pretty hilarious that I now write 500-plus-page books, eh?]


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage…”

– Lao Tzu

First, let me give a retrospective analysis of my near obliteration.  Then, I’ll give you a bunch of tools and tricks that I still use for keeping the darkness at arm’s length.

Now, at this point, some of you might also be thinking “That’s it?! A Princeton student was at risk of getting a bad grade? Boo-fuckin’-hoo, man. Give me a break…”

But… that’s the entire point.  It’s easy to blow things out of proportion, to get lost in the story you tell yourself, and to think that your entire life hinges on one thing you’ll barely remember 5-10 years later. That seemingly all-important thing could be a bad grade, getting into college, a relationship, a divorce, getting fired, or just a bunch of hecklers on the Internet.

So, back to our story–why didn’t I kill myself?

Below are the realizations that helped me (and a few friends).  They certainly won’t work for everyone suffering from depression, but my hope is that they help some of you.

1. Call this number : 1 (800) 273-8255. I didn’t have it, and I wish I had. It’s the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish.

If you’re outside of the US, please click here for a list of international hotlines.

Sometimes, it just takes one conversation with one rational person to stop a horrible irrational decision. If you’re considering ending your life, please reach out to them.  If you’re too embarrassed to admit that, as I was, then you can ping them “just to chat for a few minutes.” Pretend you’re killing time or testing different suicide hotlines for a directory you’re compiling. Whatever works.

Speaking personally, I want to see the gifts you have to offer the world. And speaking from personal experience, believe me: this too shall pass, whatever it is.

2. I realized it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.

Even if you’re not lucky enough, as I was, to feel loved by other people, I think this is worth meditating on.

Your death is not perfectly isolated. It can destroy a lot, whether your family (who will blame themselves), other loved ones, or simply the law enforcement officers or coroners who have to haul your death mask-wearing carcass out of an apartment or the woods. The guaranteed outcome of suicide is NOT things improving for you (or going blank), but creating a catastrophe for others. Even if your intention is to get revenge through suicide, the damage won’t be limited to your targets.

A friend once told me that killing yourself is like taking your pain, multiplying it 10x, and giving it to the ones who love you.  I agree with this, but there’s more.  Beyond any loved ones, you could include neighbors, innocent bystanders exposed to your death, and people — often kids — who commit “copycat suicides” when they read about your demise. This is the reality, not the cure-all fantasy, of suicide.

If you think about killing yourself, imagine yourself wearing a suicide bomber’s vest of explosives and walking into a crowd of innocents.

That’s effectively what it is.  Even if you “feel” like no one loves you or cares about you, you are most likely loved–and most definitely lovable and worthy of love.

3. There’s no guarantee that killing yourself improves things!

In a tragically comic way, this was a depressing realization when I was considering blowing my head off or getting run over.  Damnation!  No guarantees.  Death and taxes, yes, but not a breezy afterlife.

The “afterlife” could be 1,000x worse than life, even at its worst.  No one knows. I personally believe that consciousness persists after physical death, and it dawned on me that I literally had zero evidence that my death would improve things. It’s a terrible bet. At least here, in this life, we have known variables we can tweak and change. The unknown void could be Dante’s Inferno or far worse. When we just “want the pain to stop,” it’s easy to forget this. You simply don’t know what’s behind door #3.

In our desperation, we often just don’t think it through. It’s kind of like the murder-suicide joke by one of my favorite comics, Demetri Martin:

“Someone who commits a murder-suicide is probably somebody who isn’t thinking through the afterlife. Bam! You’re dead. Bam! I’m dead. Oh shit … this is going to be awkward forever.”

4. Tips from friends, related to #2 above.

For some of my friends (all high achievers, for those wondering), a “non-suicide vow” is what made all the difference. Here is one friend’s description:

“It only mattered when I made a vow to the one person in my life I knew I would never break it to [a sibling]. It’s powerful when you do that. All of a sudden, this option that I sometimes played around in my mind, it was off the table. I would never break a vow to my brother, ever. After the vow and him accepting it, I’ve had to approach life in a different way. There is no fantasy escape hatch. I’m in it. In the end, making a vow to him is the greatest gift I could have given myself.”

As silly as it might sound, it’s sometimes easier to focus on keeping your word, and avoiding hurting someone, than preserving your own life.

And that’s OK. Use what works first, and you can fix the rest later. If you need to disguise a vow out of embarrassment (“How would I confess that to a friend?!”), find a struggling friend to make a mutual “non-suicide vow” with.  Make it seem like you’re only trying to protect him or her. Still too much? Make it a “mutual non-self-hurt” vow with a friend who beats themselves up.

Make it about him or her as much as you.

If you don’t care about yourself, make it about other people.

Make a promise you can’t break, or at the very least realize this: killing yourself will destroy other people’s lives.


Now, let’s talk day-to-day tactics.

The fact of the matter is this: if you’re driven, an entrepreneur, a type-A personality, or a hundred other things, mood swings are part of your genetic hardwiring.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

Below are a number of habits and routines that help me. They might seem simplistic, but they keep me from careening too far off the tracks.  They are my defense against the abyss. They might help you find your own, or use them as a starting point.

Most of this boxed text is from a previous post on “productivity ‘hacks’ for the neurotic, manic-depressive, and crazy (like me)“, but I’ve added a few things:

Most “superheroes” are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.

Here are some of my coping mechanisms for making it through the day:

1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.

2) Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh like this) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.

3) Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.

4) For each item, ask yourself:

– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”

– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”

5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.

6) Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.

7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.

8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.

9) Physically MOVE for at least 20 minutes each day. Go for a long walk, lift weights, take a free online yoga class (YouTube), anything. Ideally, get outside. I was once asked by friend for advice on overcoming debilitating stress. The answer I repeated over and over again was: “Remember to EXERCISE daily. That is 80% of the battle.”

10) Follow a diet that prevents wild blood sugar swings. This means avoiding grains and refined carbohydrates most of the time. I follow the slow-carb diet with one cheat day per week and have done so for 10+ years.  Paleo also works great. Don’t forget to eat plenty of fat. High protein and low fat can give you low-grade symptoms of rabbit starvation.

11) Schedule at least one group dinner with friends per week.  Get it on the calendar no later than 5pm on Monday.  Ideal to have at least three people, but two is still great medicine.

12) Take a minute each day to call or email someone to express gratitude of some type. Consider someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time.  It can be a one-line text or a 5-second voicemail.

Congratulations! That’s it.

Those are the rules I use, and they help steer the ship in the right direction.

Routines are the only way I can feel “successful” despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, hit snooze, nap, and otherwise fritter away my days with bullshit. If I have 10 “important” things to do in a day, I’ll feel overwhelmed, and it’s 100% certain nothing important will get done that day. On the other hand, I can usually handle 1 must-do item and block out my lesser behaviors for 2-3 hours a day.

And when — despite your best efforts — you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, never forget: Even the best of the best feel this way sometimes. When I’m in the pit of despair with new book projects, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.


My “perfect storm” was nothing permanent.

If we let the storms pass and choose to reflect, we come out better than ever. In the end, regardless of the fucked up acts of others, we have to reach within ourselves and grow. It’s our responsibility to ourselves and–just as critical–to those who love and surround us.

You have gifts to share with the world.

You are not alone.

You are not flawed.

You are human.

And when the darkness comes, when you are fighting the demons, just remember: I’m right there fighting with you.

The gems I’ve found were forged in the struggle. Never ever give up.

Much love,


P.S. If you have tips that have helped you overcome or manage depression, please share in the comments. I would love for this post to become a growing resource for people. I will also do my best to improve it over time. Thank you.

Additional Resources:

If you occasionally struggle like me, these resources, videos, and articles might help you rebound. I watch the video of Nick Vujicic quite often, just as a reminder of how fortunate I am:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline –  Dial 988 or 1 (800) 273-8255 (website and live chat here). It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both English and Spanish. Outside the US? Please click here for a list of international hotlines.

My recent interview with Derek Halpern – The core of the conversation is about how to overcome struggle and the above suicide-related story, but it also includes business strategies and other lessons learned.  My apologies for the weird lip smacking, which is a nervous tic. I thought I’d fixed it, but these stories brought it back 🙂

15-Minute Audio from Tony Robbins I asked Tony for his thoughts on suicide. He responded with a very insightful audio clip, recorded while in the air. It covers a lot, and the hilarious anecdote about the raw-foodist mom at the end alone makes it worth a listen. NOTE: Of course, NEVER stop taking anti-depressants or any medicine without medical supervision. That is not what Tony is recommending.

Listen in the player above, or download by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”

The Prescription for Self-Doubt? Watch This Short Video (Nick Vujicic)

Harnessing Entrepreneurial Manic-Depression: Making the Rollercoaster Work for You

Two Root Causes of My Recent Depression – This article is by Brad Feld, one of my favorite start-up investors and a world-class entrepreneur in his own right. It’s just more proof that you’re not alone. Even the best out there feel hopeless at times.  It can be beaten.

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.  This book is not nearly as woo-woo as it might seem.  It was recommended to me by a neuroscience PhD who said it changed her life, then by another cynical friend who said the same.  It is one of the most useful books I’ve read in the last two years.  It’s easy to digest, and I suggest one short chapter before bed each night.  For those of us who beat ourselves up, it’s a godsend.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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1,282 Replies to “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide”

  1. Today is a special holiday of my own that I like to call Infinity day. 🙂 It’s a wonderful day that is meant to be spent creating happiness in the people who are around you. It’s based off the thought that happiness spreads like wildflowers and those good memories will last lifetimes.

    To be blunt, 8 months ago I had lost my grip on my darker thoughts and would have stepped infront of a train had the kaboose not passed by before my drudging feet reached the tracks. That is why it is called Infinity day. An 8 turned sideways is an infinity sign. A lot of times, what a person who is fighting depression needs is a chance to tilt there thoughts sideways and see everything from a different angle. 🙂

    Thank you Mr. Ferriss for sharing your story and for the methods that those who are still fighting or struggling can try. What you wrote provides a sense of community to anyone who still feels alone.

  2. Important story to share along with the tips – feeling connected and valued, by ourselves and by our friends and family, is so vital. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Thank you for this post and thank you for sharing your list of habits and routines. There are not enough words to express my gratitude.

  4. Though this might not be for everyone, when you feel like you’re out of options, you’ll do anything. Why not this? Go to the “Blessed Sacrament”, usually in the Adoration chapels in Catholic churches that have it. Even if you’re not Catholic, nor believe in the real presence… just do it and see for yourself. A friend who was buddhist and depressed at that time just went there everyday. She cried, made her arguments to “God” and eventually found peace.

  5. Tim. You are brave sharing. Plus, you helped me. Thankyou very much for this post. By the way, ALL your posts are the single most helpful/important posts i have ever gotten in my fb feed. You have a great great deal of influence in many lives including mine. I find your posts to be a lighthouse beacon in a mad world. Thankyou once again.

  6. I texted a part of this to a friend who is homeless and just lost his job which was putting him on track to some sense of hope and stability. Thank you.

  7. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve never read a post on suicide as honest, natural and straightforward.

  8. well done Tim.

    My tip would be THINK LONG TERM, THINK LONG TERM AND THINK LONG TERM. We can shape our future we cannot change who we are today. The other would be DRUGS ARE A BAD IDEA.

  9. Hi Tim,

    Great post as usual. A year and half ago i had a reoccurring episode of depression. I’ve struggled with it for almost 7 years and that’s​ only the timeframe when I’ve identified that it’s depression. Last year i contemplated suicide because i thought to myself what is the point of living anymore, i hated myself and my life. But i negotiated myself out of it because i knew what it would do to my parents and family.

    Here in the UK, mental health is still a massive stigma and care is inadequate. I have managed to recover now. Anyway i think it’s great that you’ve written something about this topic and i hope people can find solace from these posts. All the best.

  10. Hi Tim,

    I just started following your posts and podcasts this year and it has been immensely helpful and real. Especially I would like to thank you for this post!

    I have been struggling with depression since I started university and only became aware of it in my final year when the recruiting season started. Amongst my competitive friends and few interview call backs I failed to pass one of my courses. I spent the summer after studying an easier course which I failed again. The pressure of added expenditure for my family , the loss of confidence in myself and the belief that i screwed up my life spiralled me into a dark place as I tried to pass my one course during the Fall living by myself in the dark , cold Montreal winter. I was consistently consumed by suicidal thoughts which I never acted upon because I knew my little sister could not live without me. I thankfully passed the course and graduated a year later. Then an internship opportunity arose in Mexico. Suffocated by my life in Canada, I took that opportunity . It turned out to be the best experiences of my life. Even though work was demotivating and felt like a constant attack at my ability I saw a world through a different lens.

    I decided to return to Canada to take a shot at opportunities here and work on my permanent residence, since my poor grades wouldn’t help me get into a masters’ program. I got a contract at a unicorn startup that I failed to turn into a full-time. 3 months in I was unemployed again and have been for 5 months now. Recently, I failed at 2 interviews that sent me spiralling into depression. Its been a year since graduation and my life seems like it hasn’t moved forward. I was now this kid who lives on her parents’ money , with a reputed degree in a city with opportunities which is not ideal and considered a failure. I I was aware of this , wanted to change it but was mentally paralyzed to do so. I developed a fear of being suffocated and stuck. I took another trip to Mexico recently with my roommate. I ate wonderful Mexican food, swam in the blue sea, and dived into a cenote. Now I am back reenergized with a better perspective on things. At 24, I am now just learning to be myself amongst the noise. Right now I am sitting in a cafe trying to plan steps to help me move but I am still afraid of what is to come and choices I need to make. But reading your post brought me to tears. It was helpful to know that someone else went through a similar experience and that everything can be ok.

    – What helps me right now is being able to approach my parents to talk to or my friend who suffers from depression too.

    – When I have spiralled in deep , I try to take a trip out of the city or even country to snap out of it .

    Thank you,


  11. Tim- thank you. I spent two years at Harvard before dropping out due to major depression. You are right- the suicide rate there is ridiculous. It would be years before I stopped thinking about suicide daily. I don’t know how I got out of it alive. Well, actually I do. I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness shortly after I dropped out, and that helped put things in perspective. 20 years later, I’m still here.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing, Tim. This is real courage.

    I have bipolar as well, but after listening to the podcast for the past few months, I feel for perhaps the first time that I might be able not only to cope with but actually defeat it. There are so many guests who have battled through and become incredibly happy and healthy.

    Here are a few things that are working for me now:

    1. Worrying about one day at a time. I get too in my head if I try to set too many patterns and then freeze up.

    2. Listen to triumphant music in the morning. I like Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky.

    3. Eat chocolate. I don’t overdo it, and I’m on the LCHF diet generally, but sometimes a burst of chocolate helps me hit the reset button.

  13. Its probably a bit late but if anyone finds this now or in the future like I did I have one small and simple trick which is helping me right now and which I have not yet seen linked to this topic. It sounds a bit stupid but try to drink enough water. I can directly relate my dark times to the days I havent been drinking enough water or often havent been drinking at all. It clouds your mind to be dehydrated and everything seems harder. Drinking a glass of water when I am feeling depressed has often helped me getting better. It also motivates me to do stuff like going for a walk.

  14. Thank you for posting this. 21 veterans and active duty military kill themselves every day. 6 people I worked with, 2 being close friends have taken that road, I was even close myself at one point. I had a realization something like what you shared and moved on and have a great life now.

    I hope this message gets out to those who can use it. Your work has made a big impact on my life and I really appreciate you tackling a subject like this with clarity, introspection, and honesty. It is greatly needed by many quietly suffering people out there.

  15. Tim

    First of all. Thank you for writing this piece and shedding some light on depression, mounting anxiety, and life struggle.

    We recently (3 days ago) received news that a friend had ended her life. This was a tragic blow for her husband and family. What a dear and sweet soul she was. Her life ending act lead me to great reflection just like you.

    I too had contemplated, planned, and nearly walked into this same act in my own life. Her death made me finally realize the wake of anguish that would cascade through my family and community.

    I believe that humans are now in great danger from the outside world. We are in a sense experiencing “War of the Worlds”. War between our primal selves and modern selves. In early ended my life and that of my spouse when I found out about her infidelity years ago but something stopped me in my tracks and it was an inner voice that I let speak and continue to let speak to this day.

    I used my pain in a few ways that saved my life.

    1. I pursued an audacious physical goal in a sport I had no business’s being in but did very well at.

    2. I changed the way my lifestyle dictated my peace. Quite my corporate job, ate real food, ditched alcohol, and went completely Paleo before it was a thing.

    3. I focused on giving to others more….. this one changed everything!

    I discovered my WHY and use it to move me forward today. My WHY is others…. I get out ode bed in the morning because o may have the chance to impact someone’s life? I get out of bed because my children need a father that lives for them and not for himself. I get out of bed because my wife for all the pain she caused needs to see a man that was not defeated but strengthened by her actions.

    Through the last seven years of this I finally let myself walk into my authentic persona. The message I spread to my clients is this. Life obstacles are just barriers, there are ways over, under, and around them. Always tell yourself you can go one more step (day) because you “Don’t stop, Won’t stop, Can’t stop!” The authentic you is on the other side and needs your encouragement!

    Thank you Tim for your heart and openness!

  16. I hope every single person on this planet gets to read this. I’ve read lots of your material, & this one was truly moving. I wish I could explain it better, how much this meant. Big love Mr ferris

  17. Pick up a camera and seek beauty. Usually in nature. It worked for me. I started with those moment lenses that attach to your phone, then I bought a real camera. I disappear into nature and I feel happy. Seek beauty in the world around you and you can’t be depressed. That’s my antidote.

  18. I typed such a long response and now it has disappeared. I guess I clicked the wrong buttons through the tears.

    All I really want to say is “Thank you”. I wish I had seen this when I was going though my own long, dark night of the Soul. Thankfully, seeing my son’s eyelids fluttering from dreams while I was contemplating ending my life became the moment I realised I would leave him in a darkness of confusion and pain I would never want him to experience.

    I trust this post will lift many out of their darkness.

    Thank you for putting this out into the world.

  19. [Moderator: introductory text removed.] …it’s absolutely necessary to listen to people and think outside of our own boxes for a few minutes sometimes, despite all the things we’re “chasing” in our own lives. Think about all the amazing people we’ve lost and lose daily. The ones that don’t always have a huge platform. The ones we’ve definitely heard of. The artist from Linkin Park #ripchester is a very recent example. So many others like Heath Ledger, Robin Williams and countless talented people. Stop what you’re doing for a second sometimes…fuck technology….pick up a phone…or how about even drop by for 10 minutes in person and say hi to a friend. If you’ve seen the new Trainspotting 2 movie, you’ll “get” that sometimes timing will save a friend or someone you might not even know. You see and read it all the time; “Someone is always fighting a battle you know nothing about”. People sometimes just want to be heard without an agenda, or without other people thinking they want to earn “paper” from it. “Everything burns” – The Joker (from The Dark Knight). Vulnerability is a strength and is only perceived that way. Tim Ferriss don’t ever think otherwise or let your fingers tremble ever again. You have friends in places you’re yet to meet and that consider you a pioneer in a place that scares the many.

  20. Thank you for sharing. Was your belief in an afterlife something you’ve always believed in or something you came to later in life. I am also wondering what, if anything, your experience with ayahuasca has had on your conception of life after death, if any.

  21. Thank you, Tim. Thank you for writing this. I “found” you through Jocko’s podcasts about 6 months ago and have recently bought “Tools for titans” and “4-hour workweek”, both of which I am reading concurrently along with Gavin de Becker”s book “The gift of fear”.

    I have been battling depression for almost 25 of my 41 years, and plan to keep battling, if only so as not to make my wife, three children, parents and sisters suffer.

    But, as you know yourself, the big black dog comes to visit every so often. I hope to keep shooing him away long enough to fulfil my dreams, whatever they may be.

    I wish you continued success, because you deserve it. Btw, if you ever come back to Seville, please allow me to buy you a drink.

  22. I have struggled with anxiety and depression on and off since college. I’m in Managmemt Consulting, with 3 kids and a wife at home. Over the past 6 years, I’ve have multiple burnouts / deppresed episodes. For me – my depression is triggered by sustained periods of anxiety –

    the root of it all is work. I don’t mind the hours, but a lot of the time, the workplace is toxic – surrounded by big egos and agendas.

    What has helped me: mediation, journaling, eating well, exercise and positive psychology. I know that I need to find a new career path. I don’t need motivation – I need to find my flow/personal legend and visceral drive.

    It’s a work in progress…but, Tim – your podcast has been a life saver. Please continue with your good work.

    Best –


  23. Thank you. As someone who spent years helping the families and friends of people who suicided, I wish I had had access to this some years ago. The more we can talk and share with others, the better.

  24. My, you write well. I felt a complusion to face my mistakes and find out if I can turn them into


    I agree with your arrangement to face one challenge per day due suicide encaspsulates one’s entire life has a mistake, isolating one challenge at time, slows down the all or nothing thinking that suicide seems to solve.

    It hurt me when you mentioned being loaded with explosives and walking into a crowd, liken to taking your life, I would hate myself more for hurting others.

    And yet, I still think not that many would feel bad. Some already know I am sad, so they would be sad for a short time and eventually get over the absence of me.

    Thank you for clear honest approach to sad truth some us deal with in times of great self disappointment.

    I did find out, I still like to write. One challenge at a time.

    Thank you.

  25. wow, truly a life saver!. Thanks so much for your caring unselfishness. The timing (for me) was perfect. Luv ya, Tim.

  26. Hey Tim! Thank you for writing this article and providing resources to help. This article has saved me from disaster multiple times and I can’t thank you enough for having the courage to write about this subject in a very real and practical manner. Keep up the amazing writing!

  27. Dear Mr Ferriss,

    I’ve been struggling with mental illness as long as I could remember since I was 11 years old it only until these past 1.5 that I’ve been moving forward and seeing minor changes. My brother-in-law whom I look up to since I was 17 is perhaps one of the best human being that I’ve encountered and is extremely fortunate to have him be apart of my family. Needless to say I have great admiration for him and when he recommended and introduced who you were: I listen and though there’s are lots of things I can not relate there is one thing that hits home– mental illness.

    I’m not tech savvy yet is slowly learning: I am grateful to have stumbled upon this site. Which leads me to two questions and though I selfishly wish to find some answers from you yet apart of me does hope you can forgive me for taking this bold step for bringing up the


    While in the mist of your severe depression did the word or feeling ‘helping others’ helped you to become who you are? And if so can you remember if it emotionally exhausted you? At core, I know without a doubt in my mind I find it fulfilling when I help others overcome challenges or even if it’s something small. Yet, often times I find myself overly emotionally exhausted. In my medical field (im normal) there’s nothing causing me to be constantly being exhausted (literally). Please if there’s any information or past experiences that you are able to share please do.

    Lastly, I attend University and have decided be involved in students leadership– I would like to play your Ted Talk 2009 YouTube as part of our Conference inspiration(s). Who will i need to contact to allow this procedure to pass? Thank you for your time.

  28. Tim, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you writing this story. People who are depressed and suicidal can feel profoundly alone and defective, i.e., there is something uniquely wrong with them. Fore someone like you, who seems to live such a full and grounded life, to share such a story is especially healing. Thank you.

  29. Thank you for sharing, this is how we are not just changing the culture for people who know they struggle, but business owners and entrepreneurs who are finding out they struggle too-> And it’s okay.

  30. I’m glad you chose life Tim, so you can share your inspiring story! I’ve struggled many years (still do) with depression / thoughts of suicide (I’m 53). With inspirational stories like yours, pills & skills (as my counselor says), I’ve been able to keep it together to see another day. I find that if I’m having a tough day, if I just remember “tomorrow is another day” and with each day, gives us a chance for a new start; it gives me hope that my day will be better than the previous. Let’s face it, it’s all a choice, but when one gets overwhelmed with many things hitting at once, people like me can lose sight of everything and just want to seek peace, but I loved your saying about “who knows what’s in door #3” (may be way worse than we have it). One day at a time; yesterday is long gone, we may not see tomorrow, so do what you can TODAY and be proud of all your successes (regardless of how little). Thanks again for sharing your story Tim; it made a big difference in my day and things that I will remember moving forward!

  31. Thanks for the post Tim. You’re incredibly inspiring for writing about this. I think more people should know about this.

    Is there a Spanish translation? And if not could I make one?

    I would also like to suggest a small improvement, Nick Vujicic (the same person from “The Prescription for Self-Doubt? Watch This Short Video” Link) has made a Ted Talk which is very inline with this post:

    Finally here is a quote I sometimes think about:

    “As a young doctor I spent four years in Austria’s largest state hospital where I was in charge of the pavilion in which severely depressed patients were accommodated—most of them having been admitted after a suicide attempt”…

    “whenever I am confronted with someone who is prone to suicide. I explain to such a person that patients repeatedly told me how happy they were that the suicide attempt had not been successful; weeks, months, years later, they told me, it turned out that there was a solution to their problem, an answer to their question, a meaning to their life. “Even if things only take such a good turn in one of a thousand cases,” my explanation continues, “who can guarantee that in your case it will not happen one day, sooner or later? But in the first place, you have to live to see the day on which it may happen, so you have to survive in order to see the day dawn, and from now on the responsibility for survival does not leave you.” ” Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

  32. Thank Tim, I think its powerful to bring the dark to the light- just talking, sharing puts some air and space around it. I think its also helpful to understand that you can observe those dark thoughts and know that they are not you, you are not your thoughts. Through mindfulness and awareness we can get in touch with our ever knowing, loveable, always present, inner being, inner-self. Also, by becoming a non judgmental observer of your thoughts, watching them pass by like clouds, you now take power away from those negative thoughts. Guess what I am trying to say is connecting deeply with my breath has helped. I have struggled myself, loneliness and isolation is the enemy and I tend to not want to bring anyone down so I will avoid social and stick to myself. NOT Good. I am health oriented, mostly plant based, exercise has always been a part of my life, but when I am depressed feeling unlovable, I will smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, eat crap or not eat, sleep, binge watch all day, its like a totally different person. I empathize, I have been there. Thank you for your courage. Much love and light.

  33. Tim, thank you for this. Have you ever considered sharing this with high schools as part of suicide prevention? I have a younger sister who is 17 years old and in the past four weeks two students at that school have committed suicide. I’m reading Tools of Titans and read this article, I think it could help.

  34. Good stuff Tim. Perfect storms are the hardest to ride out and make the best stories for sure.

    My ex-girlfriend (and still really good friend of 19 Years)- her mother killed herself in 2012. I watched and supported her as best as I knew how during and through this unbelievably tragic moment. And I’ll admit I was ill prepared, but another story.

    Fast forward to 2016 same woman (my ex) decided that she needed to go a new direction (she had decided to end our relationship and it seemed that it came out of nowhere)… anyway, dark (darkest?) moment in my life… shock, depressed, unanchored, unhinged, fetal, all of it for about 3 Months.

    Having had the up-close experience in 2012 of seeing someone whom I loved go through the pain which is brought about with the suicide of a loved one allowed me to commit to not doing that out of respect for and caring for the people I love… ironically and especially for her. And this was my daily mantra for those 3+ months of severe depression after we split up…’I know it hurts but don’t do something that will hurt the people I love’

  35. Thanks for this thoughtful post. My mother committed suicide when I was 11. My husband’s brother also killed himself. It’s important to talk about. Doesn’t matter who you are. This is something that can affect everyone. I appreciate the time taken to give strategies on how to get through those thoughts. ♡

  36. It’s good to hear someone younger than me getting a break of luck like you did and writing about it sooner than I did.

    One important contrast I’d like to mention. Never think that by helping others by volunteering at a soup kitchen, etc. is going to always be the correct move for someone. There is an emotional equivalent to having AIDS and serving soup to others when you should really be in bed or under the care of a doctor is often the most important thing you can do. To say to yourself regardless of usefulness to anyone else that if all you do today is breathe, that’s okay and may be the best medicine you can take. The hideous thing is that some people don’t have the financial or material means to get the care they need. We still live in a greedy world that denies healthcare to people because they are poor. The most important medicine the suicidal need is the understanding that when the air masks drop from the ceiling you have to put your own mask on first before helping others. It’s the prime directive and gift to others that you must make first, even if that means you are left to be the witness of their death. It’s not easy being green, but so it goes.

    I would like to meet you some day, but not as a passing stranger. I don’t think that is likely so I’ll just say that honesty about your suicidal challenge is probably the most important thing you will ever write. The second is all this other stuff that makes life worthwhile to you.

    I hope to end up more well known than I presently am, because I feel strangely called by fate to be a profound witness to survival. It is often judged as egotistical by me or others, yet I know the voice of conscience very clearly.

    I may be a late bloomer, but so it goes in some lives.

  37. Just reading this now and it appears quite some time later. I almost took my own life about three years ago thinking my son would be better off without me. I am part of a special club, raising a severely autistic child. A club that also boasts stress rates comparable to that of combat soldiers and I had no shortage. In short I learned that if I didn’t take care of myself I wouldn’t be here much longer. So I started taking care of myself and now learned what I call power thinking- thinking in a way that helps me move toward what I want and not away from it. Thanks for sharing this Tim. My suicide story was incredibly hard to publish but it is my goal to now start the conversation for my club. We need to start taking care of ourselves.

  38. Very grateful for your post Tim and all that you’ve shared. You’re impact upon humanity is off the charts positive. (Is that possible?)

  39. How do you get through to a 15 year old boy who attempted suicide 2 months ago and refuses to acknowledge it and talk about it? Now that he is home from hospital he has just about withdrawn from the world, lives in his room and communicates via text apart from “F’ you!” Refuses to see any health professionals. He is desperately sad and lonely and we dread the day he tries again. We are hostages to whatever is going on in his head and just want him to be safe!

    1. Hi Austin,

      First of all, I’m very sorry to hear about what’s happened.

      I’m not a health professional and don’t have any professional training in this area. Nor am I a teenager anymore. But I’ve attempted suicide three times and nearly succeeded last year, and have been presenting talks at local high schools. So I’m hoping that my suggestions may perhaps help your situation.

      I suspect that a couple of the reasons why the boy is refusing to speak about it are:

      – Fear that he’s going to be judged / criticized. It took me months to speak to a family member about my suicide attempt even though had spent days in intensive care. Only a few very close friends and health professionals knew what was happening / had happened.

      – An assumption on his part that you’re not going to be able to relate to what he’s going through.

      You mentioned that he’s communicating via text. How do you feel about continuing to communicate with him in that way and continue to offer as much love as possible through that medium, until he’s ready to have a conversation?

      Is he open to connect with anyone else, perhaps an older peer “who’s been there”, and who can eventually gently introduce the idea of speaking with health professionals? Is there a teacher or school counsellor who he’s had a good connection with prior to the suicide attempt? Lastly, if he has any peers his age who you could reach out to, explain the situation, and ask to try and connect with him (even if via text), that might be one channel, even if all that does is lessen his loneliness.

      I’m open to continuing the conversation. If you click on my name in the title of this reply, it’ll take you to my site. You can get in touch with me through there. In the meantime, I sincerely hope this helps.

  40. The day after my husband committed suicide his sister told me that both her son’s had attempted to end their lives. How did we not know about it? I vowed then and there to be open and honest about it. 18 months later I published my journal, as it was written in the moment. Bad spelling, awful grammar and foul language. If it helped one person cope with the aftermath it was worth laying my experience out there.

  41. Thanks for sharing Tim. Do you think if the internet was around at that time, things might have turned out differently?

  42. I know this was from a while ago, but it just popped up for me on Facebook. Thank you for sharing your story. In case you ever wonder, a lot of people you’ve never met who only “know” you through your writing would miss you if you weren’t here. Keep up the fight.

  43. Honest article Tim, I’m sure a lot of people will find it helpful when they’re in a dark place in life.

    While I agree that the overwhelming majority of suicidal people are probably in a place where they “can’t see the forest for the trees,” there is a small group of people I think have the right to have suicide as an option. Someone who is chronically ill and is no longer able to live a rewarding, meaningful life should not have to suffer the reality of it until the light fades out on its own. I think it’s selfish to expect someone to stick around when they’re suffering so much they no longer find enjoyment in their days, simply for the sake of your own peace and we’ll being. I don’t think a “soul” will be punished in some way in the “afterlife” for calling it quits early, especially when they were forced to physically (and mentally) suffer above and beyond during life.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. Exactly 100% correct!! The act of taking ones own life is a “disobedience” according to Scripture. A sin. What WILL lead someone to hell is not accepting Christ.

  44. Go to group dinners with friends? Lol I don’t even have any friends to do that with and I never have. I wish my problems were as trivial as a bad grade, at an elite school.

  45. Thanks Tim, once again. I respect all you and all you’ve done. This is timely for me in light of the recent suicides and the state of mind I drift into from time to time, based on my horrible string of life circumstances.

  46. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m not really proud of my “moment,” but I’m glad that I’m still here. The breakdown came for me in the form of betrayal. It rocked me to my core and I still cope with it a little bit every day.

    I don’t know what exactly stopped me from completing my ending, but I knew it wasn’t right.

    I figured out later that the devastation for those that love me would have been wide and deep if I had taken my life.

    The one tip that you shared is that I had a standing Thursday dinner with a couple of my close friends. That, some quality counseling and a good prescription to help me get out of my funk saved things.

    Again, thanks for sharing your story.

  47. I find it useful to consider the statement that suicide is a permanent solution to a short term problem. It helps give some perspective along the lines of ‘this too shall pass’

    I’m very grateful to you for writing this article Tim.

    Much love

  48. Thanks for reposting this Tim! I didn’t see it 3 years ago, and enjoyed reading it all. Very open and honest look at your life in 1999 and great advice/reminders throughout.

  49. When I get especially depressed, I get my Bible out and start reading Scripture. I feel immediate comfort as I sit still after reading a few verses and ask God what He wants to teach me through the verses. I immediately feel comfort from it. When I place my trust in Him 100%, everything works out. He will never leave or forsake me. Why worry? If I’m doing what i should be doing everything always works out. He will make sure of it.

  50. I sure wish this was around before my husband decided to take his life! You are correct, when you say part of the family spirit leaves them. It is so true. Thank you so much for writing this and hopefully you can save some family from enduring what mine did. Thank you Patricia Jeakle Havey

  51. Thanks so much for this incredibly generous post. I feel like you’re doing what you promised Silas and then some. I’ve been a huge fan of your books and podcasts for awhile, and I have a lot of respect for you using your position to tell this story and explain what your daily process is. From now on I’m totally going to call it Practical Gremlin Defense as well. 🙂

    I realize this post went up 3 years ago, but in case you or someone else is still monitoring the comments, I want to enthusiastically recommend self-Reiki as a way to reflect and/or self-soothe in the face of depression.

    About 4 years ago, my Dad was diagnosed with an aggressive, incurable cancer. To make matters worse, the doctors couldn’t really tell us if he would wind up living for 6 months or 10 years. My Dad fought hard to stay alive, but his illness was incredibly dramatic, involving many surgeries and complications. The unclear timeline coupled with watching him suffer so much knocked the wind, and hope, out of me completely. My situation contained echoes of yours in that during this time I also saw a long-term relationship end, and I was laid off from a long-term job. There was so much loss of security at once, and I felt completely unprepared, freaked out, and doomed.

    My family surfed the waves of my Dad’s illness as best as we could. I was, and still am, proud of us. He passed a little over 1 year ago. My grief and depression continued but morphed into a different beast. I never considered ending my life, but I lost nearly all motivation, cried constantly, and spent about six months in what I’ve come to refer to as The Sweatpants Period.

    I intended to learn Reiki while my Dad was still alive. He’d gotten a Reiki treatment from a nurse at the hospital and was shockingly calm afterwards. This was a man who was constantly anxious, even on a good day. My whole family took notice, and I signed up for Reiki training immediately so I could treat him too. The week of my planned training was actually the week he wound up dying. At first I couldn’t stand the thought of rescheduling as I had meant to treat him and only him – but eventually, my depression abated enough to allow feelings like curiosity back in. I had always gravitated toward X-Men films and used to joke that I wanted powers, so Reiki seemed like the closest thing – a way to redirect my mind and perhaps develop a skill I could use to help others heal.

    I realize this post is growing long, so I’ll just say:

    1. Getting attuned to Reiki Level 1 was a beautiful, powerful experience during which I felt myself release a significant amount of suffering.

    2. For some reason, focusing on learning a new skill that is largely about transferring unconditional love energy to yourself and others helped get me out of my own head and see my depression from more of a distance, as opposed to something that I couldn’t escape from.

    3. Following my Level 1 attunement, my Reiki Master encouraged practicing self-Reiki every day for 90 days, and I committed to this. During that period, I spoke with friends who had taken part in an ayahuasca ceremony. I read up on this and considered it, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me at that time. The possibility of violent visions and/or physical reactions was not my bag. However, when I compared my experience with Reiki to that of ayahuasca, I saw similarities. I too was having major revelations and physical improvement – just on a much more gradual scale. Practicing Reiki on myself felt like lovingly holding myself when I needed care. Many great people were there for me following my Dad’s death, and I also saw a therapist during that time, but there was a special empowering feeling that came from soothing myself whenever possible – probably because I feared that in the absence of this one specific other person I would never have the means to recover.

    There’s so much more I could say on this topic, but I think you get the idea. Anyone can learn Reiki 1, it takes no more than a few days, and after that you can begin treating yourself right away. My Reiki practice has transformed my life, and continues to teach me every day as I treat myself, and now, others. The most frequent treatments people request of me are actually distance treatments, and even those help in my daily Gremlin Defense as I spend those times focusing on peaceful and loving thoughts. I’ve learned it doesn’t really matter whether you’re having those thoughts in the name of yourself or others – there’s a benefit all the same.

    Thank you again, Tim – for your honesty, your inspiration, and for helping me make the mind-blowing switch from chocolate oatmeal for breakfast every day to avocado, lentils, and eggs. I come away smarter every time I read your books or listen to your podcasts, and for that I’m truly grateful. Thank you for sticking around, and for not giving up. May your awesomeness continue for a long, long time.

    – Jerzy

  52. You totally help. Sometimes when I’m reading your stuff, it’s like I forget your the narrator lol, I see so much of my struggle reflected through you. Thanks for writing, and the podcast is pretty cool too. Your work matters, thanks again.

  53. I have found”Be Set Free Fast” technique by Larry Nims Ph.D very helpful. It eliminates emotional attachments of discomfort on subconsious level. You can google “be set free fast” for further information.

  54. Great post Tim, thank you Sir!

    For me, during the dark times, I have found the Wim Hof method to be the most effective way to relieve the anxiety and to prevent/get rid of periods of panic attacks.


  55. I always enjoy your 5-bullet Friday email and find information that inspires deeper thought. This week is no exception. I hope everyone who reads this post shares it with many. You offer practical tools to shape life for happiness and productivity. Thank you!

  56. Thanks for sharing.It’s been an education. I’ll be sharing your post. Thanks for all you do. Little things make a big difference!

  57. When I was in kindergarten there was this kid that sat behind me named Jack. On day three of school we got into a fight, beat the living hell out of each other. We became best friends in the office while our mothers argued with the principle. Jack and I were inseparable, through everything. He and I ended up joining the service right out of high school. As competitive as we were, he went Navy and ended up a SEAL, I went Corps and ended up in Recon. We saw a lot of crap. Fast forward a bunch of years. We were both out of the service when 9/11 happened. Jack suffered from depression as it was and I watched him descend further and further. He was obsessed with the idea that all of these kids were rushing to sign up for the military and throw their lives away and that it should be us. He tried to get back in. They denied him because of his depression.

    One thursday he didn’t show up to go swimming with me. We swam every thursday morning and he just wasn’t here. No answer anywhere. I knew. I knew five minutes after he didn’t show. It took four days to find him. He had shot himself at his parent’s cabin in Jersey. I found him and I carry him around in my head, still to this day. I sometime try to call him only to stop half way through dialing. I sometimes see something that I want to buy him and then I remember.

    It never goes away. Stay alive, people love you and there is a way through the labyrinth, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.

    Tim, keep doing what you do, people need you. “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

  58. Thank you for sharing your story. Also thank you for the information and ideas. You have impacted the lives of many people with this post and all of the other works you have done during your life. Keep up the great work!

  59. For me, I have seen that if my anxiety levels go unchecked, I will become depressed very quickly, as if the anxiety has depleted me entirely. Therefore, I manage the anxiety as a preventive measure. However, once I become depressed, the most effective cure has been to talk to someone and literally say, I think I am a little depressed. It took a long time for me to do this as its embarrassing.

  60. I had depression and wanted to suicide in my early twenties as well, books helped me to see life from a different perspective. Ashley Montagu, Erich Fromm. Karen Horley. Nowadays I haven’t got depression anymore and never get it (thanks God! I think it is the worse thing you can have) but I do have very bad moments, when wishing death I think of that scene in ‘The House of the Spirits’ where Meryl Streep’s character appears lovingly in her daughter’s prison cell, she is wishing to die due to her dire situation, the mother says calmly to Winona Ryder (the daughter), paraphrasing: do not wish for death my dear, because it will come anyway some day. This get me out of death longing thoughts, in a loving way. It is as if my own ghost loving mother was telling me this. My real mother most likely loves me but she doesn’t express it and never did so this image is comforting and the message true of course. Bless whoever reads this who might need comfort.

  61. Days ceased to be days. Everything was the same bleak struggle. I was living in a world where I didn’t trust anything or anyone. I, a pregnant 16-year-old girl abandon by my family, with no friends, in a world of hostility and gray, had my stomach pumped after a large overdose, living in a homeless shelter. The despair felt as if I was on fire.

    Typically we are victims, but sometimes we are perpetrators. But the circumstances of our pain and how we try to escape our pain don’t matter; we all suffer the same, .

    To this day the darkness still comes for me, a fear grips my in my chest. But I keep going. There are three things I want others to know:

    1. My mind plays tricks on me. In our primal minds, we are all still cavemen trying to survive. The feeling that things are more dire and urgently horrible than they seem is a survival mechanism to call us to action (although our subconscious had no idea that we would calculate death as a suitable escape or that not being able to pay a bill is quite different from getting eaten by a tiger). Meditation, or even pretending you just came out of a coma and have no idea who you are and where you came from, are two ways of beginning to reset. You can go some place else in your head and you can be someone else. Not to escape, but to see that you were not who you believed in the first place. There are people who need to teach you these tools and have dedicated their lives to helping someone like you: seek them out.

    2. Unresolved trauma of your past is stored in your brain and body, and it causes dysphoric recall of past events and of life in general. It is what colors your world gray without you even realizing it’s there. This sense of prolonged suffering can be lifted and your brain can be healed of trauma. Not just sweet talked, but truly healed. You can return to innocent lightness of being. Have hope.

    3. Guilt and original sin. We carry the grief and wounds of our families and loved ones. We believe we are destined to the same fates. This too is a trick of our brains. These can take time to heal, but there is life and light if we keep going.

    It is imperative that we reach out for help and find healers. Many of us were once exactly like you, and we are here waiting for you right now to help you see the truth you have missed. We are here to listen, to understand, to give you a way out, and to help you see why you are incredibly, incredible important.

    The odds of you ever having existing at all were one in four hundred trillion. Transcending all of it begins with one step toward hope. Ask for help. Love, Natasha

  62. Thank you for sharing.

    The black dog has visited me a lot this year, initially severe occupational burnout, lead to severe depression. But accepting what I thought was a low stress, good work life job before I was fully recovered is where I am now.

    I have been at my new job 3 1/2 months, 5 weeks acting director while my boss is away, in a very different industry.

    Needless to say me 12 months ago would have taken it in my stride, but for the past week or two the black dog has been back.

    I don’t know what kept me alive earlier in the year, it is all a bit of a haze, but I am sure anger, boarding on rage towards those whom I thought could/should have protected me from myself, kept me alive, although my struggle was as much against Martism and making myself an example of the broken system as it was against depression.

    This fourtnight has been a lot more mild, I Googled worst ways to die, probably an element of self punishment. In any case the lists I found as gruesome as they are, don’t reflect half the terrible deaths I have heard about, but it got me to ponder what the worst death of all would be for me.

    It didn’t take long (maybe 30 seconds) and the answer was so clear, there can be no worse way to die than a long wasted life suffering morderate – severe depression.

    For me that realisation was a bit of a turning point on R U OK day eve. Surviving another day with depression as a self loathing exercise is probably pretty anti-intuitive.

    Maybe it was the acknowledgement of my suffering, or reframing suicide as a failure (to punish myself as much as possible) rather than an escape. Who knows, but after that realisation, my thoughts and my week got better,

    Warm regards


  63. thank you. i have had debilitating depressing and ptsd but i’m also a great person with a lot of love and joy to give back to this world. you need someone to collaborate with on mental health….i’m here. i know the stigmas. i have always wanted to write about my story. from tragedy ptsd grief depression success and triumph. i live in a lily white hood in seattle and they need an education!!! warmly,

    paula gill seattle wa

  64. Hi Tim, the first thing is thanks. The second is I hope you send love to younger Tim so he can fight the culture of devaluing his essence. How far do you think you have come from suicide? Does it occur in waves for you or was it a one off? I have an intimate conversation with the part in me that wants out periodically. So far I always end up with a new deal: “I will change XXX in my life and you agree to put up with life for another 1-2 years?”

    I wonder about one thing: You have not chosen to publish the names of the Princeton professors or faculty that increased your odds of suicide. Why? Do you think they are more likely to change if you confront them or protect their shadow side? Do you think they might do this to another young man who is already dead? Do you become complicit in the suicide of others by being silent about the people who nearly tipped you towards your death? I’m asking the same thing as I confront the people who tipped me towards my death as paid therapists to protect their organization. I’ve decided to name names.

  65. (1) Tim, My first suggestion is that the person, in the presence of a friend or acquaintance, SAY AND MEAN (AND MAKE THIS “CONTRACT” WITH THEM): “I WILL NOT HARM OR DESTROY MYSELF OR ANYONE ELSE, AND I WILL NOT GO CRAZY!” (All that is required for that statement to be effective is that the person’s ADULT EGO STATE (their “REASON”) is cathected immediately before-hand by asking them a question, like, what is your telephone number? etc.!) Afterward, the friend assisting them can ask, “Did you really mean THAT?” They get to quit saying it only after they say and mean the AFFIRMATION/CONTRACT!

    As someone who repressed his core self probably by age one and therefore had an integration task to perform in the future, whose life was quite grim for decades, although I also achieved greatly and held many leadership offices out of compensation for hidden feelings of inferiority, who was plagued by all of Transactional Analysis’s Not-OK “Drivers” but was also activated by “perfectionism” and impelled by the Hero role to bring worth to a poverty-loss-based Dysfunctional Family system: I have two suggestions.


    Hence, the title of the book for real people who make mistakes and sometimes screw up, I’M OK; YOU’RE OK! They are OK as they are; they can make OK, constructive, good decisions that help them drop Not-OK baggage and habits, climb out of the pit, and start feeling OK and good about their lives! T.A. TRAINERS WHO TAUGHT T. A. THERAPY WOULD SOMETIMES HAVE PERSONS “RENEW THEIR CONTRACT” EVERY YEAR OR TWO—JUST TO MAKE SURE, I BELIEVE, THAT PERSONS WERE LIVING PRODUCTIVE, “GETTING-ON-WITH-IT” LIVES!

    (2) My second suggestion is COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS DAILY UNTIL GRATITUDE BECOMES YOUR ATTITUDE! At least 5 or 6, with one or two “new ones” each day! It is based on what I’ve learned from Christian faith (although atheists can benefit from “doing one’s gratitude’s,” too, I believe). Songs and teachings admonish: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one.” Not primarily to be good or even properly appreciative, but for persons to realize, feel, and know “the goodness of their given-ness,” that life is a Good Gift! I’ve discovered that “Counting our Blessings” frequently or “Doing our Gratitude’s” Daily transforms acts into an attitude! And, from a poem I wrote decades ago: “THE ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE GIVES OUR SPIRITS WIDEST LATITUDE!” AND MANY OTHER BENEFITS—INCLUDING GLADNESS FOR BEING ALIVE! AMAZINGLY, THE MORE WE “COUNT OUR BLESSINGS,” THE “MANY MORE BLESSINGS WE SEE TO COUNT!” AND, SOON, WE BECOME AWARE THAT THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF OTHER BLESSINGS BENEFITTING US HOURLY OF WHICH WE HAD NO IDEA WHEN WE WERE ONLY THINKING ABOUT WHAT WE DON’T HAVE OR WHAT PAINS US! AND THEN, PROBABLY, MILLLIONS BEHIND THAT! Whether one talks about health, wealth, inventions, any area or facet of life or our existence, we discover we have been and are being blessed by the efforts, insights, or contributions of innumerable persons, those present and so many of those who have gone before us. We are literally supported by and surrounded by blessings innumerable, human and otherwise We live on a fragile planet blessed by and given energy by a sun that would burn us up immediately were it not for an atmosphere and an electromagnetic shield protecting us from burning and other dangers. We are dependent upon water and we have it in abundance. Our tempera-tures and other processes operate within narrow degrees of tolerance, and yet we live and thrive. WHEN WE SEE LIFE AS A GIFT MADE UP OF INNUMERABLE, UNCOUNTABLE GOOD GIFTS, IT GETS HARDER TO FEEL SORRY FOR ONE’S SELF AND TO SEE LACK EVERYWHERE. GRATITUDE, I’VE COME TO SEE, IS, LITERALLY, THE BEST BASIS AND GROUND FROM WHICH TO LIVE, TO LAUNCH A NEW BUSINESS, OR TO EMBARK UPON THE DIFFICULT TASK OF COMMUNICATING DEEPLY WITH THOSE WE LOVE AND—GUESS WHAT?!– WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM US! GRATITUDE IS THE ATTITUDE THAT, SURPRISINGLY, ALLOWS GOD TO HELP US THE MOST! IT GIVE OUR SPIRITS AND “THE SPIRIT”–WIDEST LATITUDE AND FREEDOM TO BENEFIT US! WHICH IS WHY I’M 81 AND “HAPPIER AND GLADDER THAN I HAVE EVER BEEN IN MY LIFE!” I ENJOY SO MANY BLESSINGS—AND I HAVE VERY PAINFUL DIFFICULTIES TO DEAL WITH EMOTIONALLY, PHYSICALLY, SOCIALLY, MATERIALLY, ETC. I also KNOW I HAVE THINGS BETTER, LITERALLY, IN SO MANY, MANY WAYS–THAN MOST OF THE KINGS AND QUEENS, EMPERORS AND POTENTATES WHO HAVE EVER LIVED. And I am an American! Not a cause for self-righteous-ness but for thinking as McCain did—as a glad, happy, aware-of-special-legacy blessings-and-responsibilities patriot! Though it pains me to admit and experience being “crossways” with so many of the people I love dearly, and though I don’t know yet what to do about so much of it, I’ve lived long enough to know I’m probably responsible for well over half of what has gone wrong and that has not yet been “corrected!” (I think of myself as so loving and forgiving, etc. and I am! AND perhaps my difficulties have something to do with my sometimes tendency to judge or blame, to point the finger, be self-righteous, to “fly off the handle” or other faults I’m blind to (since I have a “denial” and other defense mechanisms like everyone else!). I have a great attitude and a good life! And when I learn better, I will do better and maybe be better! Or just be better off! Dag Hammarskjold said something like, ‘FOR ALL THAT HAS BEEN, ‘THANKS!” FOR ALL THAT SHALL BE, “YES!” I’LL AIM FOR THAT.

    Rev. J. Roland Cole [moderator: contact info. removed.] 9-14-18

  66. I am a suicidologist. I have worked with over 16,000 suicidal persons over 25 years at a public hospital. For the past 6 years I have been in private practice to continue that work with suicidal persons. After being in dialogue with so many thousands of suicidal persons I started to recognize a through-line common to all of these suicidal persons.

    To share just ten (10) of these algorithmic “through-lines” that repeated themselves ubiquitously over the many years:

    1) Suicide is not THE “problem” – but a SYMPTOM of the underlying problem- much the way that smoke is a symptom of fire.

    2) Though depression may be present – it is not THE underlying problem. We would often see a number of patients at the hospital who were “suicidal” – yet had no history of depression. I have also had friends who have been very “depressed” but who are/were not suicidal.

    3) Suicide is a CONTEXT-bound problem.

    4) Suicide is an “identity crisis” – not a “mental illness”.

    5) Counter-intuitively, as commonly believed, the suicidal person is not “unstable” – but “TOO stable” in the unidentified context they feel “stuck” in or “stabilized” in which leaves them feeling “trapped and lost.”

    6) To “prevent” suicide – it needs to be properly conceptualized – and in the right context in which it is happening.

    7) Any “cognitive” approach can only help within the correct context.

    8) It has been said that “The danger in communication is to assume that it occurred”. The “communication” is specially dangerous if the person we are trying to “communicate” with is suicidal and unknowingly we are missing their context.

    9) If both the suicidal person and the person trying to help them are missing the context of what is happening, then both sides will feel equally lost as they keep taking things “out of context.” With both being on the same page, speaking within the same context, there can be no TRUE communication or dialogue between them. There can be no meeting “in the middle.”

    10) When a person says: “I want to die” – it is a METAPHOR for “I want to live.”

    I hope sharing these will be helpful to your readers and those who may be helping them.

    Keep up the good work!


  67. Dear Tim, I’ve not thought about suicide as a default answer and found your advise and story valuable. “It’ll pass”,. that is, knowing one’s darkest moment is not forever … resonants with me. Your post is bookmarked for now and future inspiration…thanks for sharing!

  68. “You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” I’ve definitely gone through a lot of what you wrote here. And this beautiful quote from Brene Brown is often a place I’ve trained my mind to go in addition to the thoughts of impact on others. I love the idea of a vow with a sibling. I’m going to chat with my bro about this over our next beer. Thanks

  69. In October 2012, I ran Ironman. I expected to finish in the required 17 hours and was in utter shock to finish in 13:24. I was on top of the world. At the time I was writing a blog about the Ironman experience and as a short, sort of chubby girl people were cheering me on like mad. Fast forward to March 2013, my son admitted to me that he wanted to die. He attempted suicide over and over again, and with each attempt I died a little inside. I became suicidal because it was the only way I could escape the pain of what I saw as the inevitable, losing my child. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t see I would be leaving him and my other two sons and husband instead. I just wanted out. Luckily, I had a moment of clarity on the way to the Bay Bridge and I asked for help. Afterwards I shared my story and I continue to share my story daily. I raise money and awareness by sharing my story of being on top of the world and then ready to die. Sharing my story, saving one person at a time, that is my purpose. I commend you for sharing yours. [Moderator: fundraising content removed.] You are not alone when you are struggling. Someone is always there ready to hold your hand and pull you out of the darkness. But you aren’t alone in your suffering either. The strongest people you know have struggled and when you share your story, their stories start coming out. You are not alone! Thank you for helping spread that message.

  70. Hi Tim, I found this because I was looking at a list of viral posts hoping for ideas for my blog, but instead I found your beautiful, moving (I cried) post about suicide. My granddaughter (my chicken; my adorable cupcake; my all in all) had a friend who committed suicide last year. She spiraled down into a deep depression and we feared for her life. Finally thru love, support, her faith, her family , her friends she is doing much better. Your post is beautiful, helpful, thoughtful, real and daring! Thank you for your willingness to share such deeply personal truths. By the way, I might be an 80 year old granny, but my English professor gave me D’s the first year I majored in Eng and it haunted me so much it was years before I dared apply to grad school so I could become a teacher. Professors like that deserve banishment, they honestly do. To hint at destroying someone who disagrees with you when you are their mentor, teacher, guide – the Bible says you deserve to wear “a millstone around your neck” and I hope that means to keep them submerged in water until they are dead!! Thank God (and I truly thank Him every day for loving, strengthening and supporting me thru every life issue) that God lead your mom to use her “mom feelings” and call you when she did, and thank God that you thought this topic important enough to share with us. God Bless you Tim and thank you so much.

  71. Thanks for the honesty and help in breaking down the stigma of mental health disorders. If you are not up for talking to someone on the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, there is now the Crisis Text Line. Text Help to 741741. Trained crisis counselors are available 24/7.

  72. Hello,

    Tim you ask for resources. I found this one is great. It is made for policeman, policewoman, firefighters people, social workers, and so on, who have to deal with this also, or even in friendship or family , if you get to know the tip of this iceberg. It is in German and is called “Was sage ich dem Menschen auf dem Dach?” basically from Haim Omer. Today I fond it here,

    [Moderator: additional links to same article removed due to third party ads appearing.]

    Way back to the sunshine i hope;

    Wish everyone excellent times

  73. Tim, I’m a big fan of your podcasts and books. I’m a mum of 3 and with my last baby suffered post natal depression. I can’t stress how important it is to talk to someone. I used a phone service specifically for mums and it was a life saver. Can’t agree more about thinking of your loved ones and what your actions will do to their lives. This is one of your best posts!

  74. I’ve been a nurse and social worker now administrator in mental health for 30 years. Stigma is the biggest barrier for people seeking help. Thank you for helping to break down that barrier. Help is available. People recover. Please ask for help when you need it.

  75. Thanks Tim. Printing the ‘wrap up’ and throwing it in a frame. If we catch up again, maybe you ‘could sign it’. 🙂