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…

A TWIST OF FATE

“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.

INTO THE DARKNESS

“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?]

 

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

“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 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.

 

PRACTICAL GREMLIN DEFENSE

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.

TO WRAP UP THIS LONG-ASS POST

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,

Tim

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 – 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 500 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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1,233 Replies to “Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide”

  1. Thank you very much Tim for sharing your personal story about this often hard to talk about subject. It brought me back to when a friend of mine took her life. I remember sitting outside the next morning after I heard the news just wishing I could have talked it out with her and told her that she mattered. In efforts to prevent anything like that in the future, I try to often send random expressions of gratitude to those in my life letting them know I appreciate them and to talk to me about anything, anytime. On the flip side, if you’re the one with suicidal thoughts, I think it’s important to find a supportive group of people who make you better. Having a purpose to fulfill in life and knowing you’re making a contribution is another good first step.

  2. I don’t usually comment, but I’m going to do it this time.

    When I feel like that, I close my eyes and imagine my lineage all the way back to the caveman and women. These people fought, struggled, bled, died and pushed through for themselves and their children, and because of their strength in a much harsher world, I am walking on this planet today.

    This does two things: 1, it makes me feel like my problems are nothing compared to battling a saber tooth and fighting off Mongol invaders and 2) The reflection on the long timeline of history puts seemingly massive problems in perspective.

    It also fires me up to fight back with life.

    I love the analogy of multiplying the pain by 10x and putting it on your loved ones shoulders. I’ve seen too many young people die and this is EXACTLY the result

  3. I am floored by this post and thank you for sharing, Tim.

    This comment is a piece of advice for anyone who is told by their loved one that they want to kill themselves, and is based on personal experience:

    – don’t brush away what they say or dismiss it by telling them “chin up” or “you’ll be ok.” When you do this you could close down a door

    – see it as a cry for help because it is

    – center yourself and breathe into your stomach and then, as if your heart had developed hearing, listen listen listen.

    – gently encourage them to get professional help, and keep suggesting this.

    – put your own shit to one side and be there with them, and check in with them every day – preferably in person but if that isn’t possible then the phone is good

    – get yourself some help, too. Often people caring for chronically depressed people get depressed as well

    – love, love, love: that’s all that really matters.

  4. Tim,

    The average person often finds themselves shocked by such revelations, especially when all they see are the public persona. Having someone such as yourself openly express your own struggle certainly provides the opportunity for others to do so. I am a fan now even more than I have ever been Bravo!

  5. I once seriously contemplated suicide. Well, I say once; it was more like once every hour for several months. The reasons seem irrelevant now but basically I’d uprooted to a new city, burned some bridges and left all my friends behind for a girl who dumped me soon after. I know, boo-hoo, but when you’re 24 that’s a big deal.

    Anyway, I was upset but I dealt with it OK- until suddenly chronic insomnia kicked in, and then life became this cold, grey, joyless nightmare that I couldn’t even escape by sleeping. After several days of sleep-deprivation hallucinations, I went to the doctor, who gave me Diazepam. The “sleep” you get from Diazepam is like being unplugged- your body rests, but your mind just switches off totally so you don’t dream or process any thoughts, you just pick up immediately where you left off. A few weeks of that and I started thinking about ending it, trying to figure out as painless and undramatic an exit as possible. Being that depressed is essentially being so overwhelmed by your own awful feelings that you can’t empathise with others, so imagining how it would upset my family or friends didn’t really register enough. The simple truth that removed suicide as an option was this: I had to admit to myself that I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted to get better. I felt like I was at the bottom of a cold, dark ravine, but I told myself that as long as I kept moving forward,every little step was taking me out of it. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen quickly. But every time I thought about checking out, I reminded myself that all I would be doing is guaranteeing that I would never get better. It became a Mantra:

    “I don’t want to die, I want to get better.”

    That was almost 20 years ago. The scars took a while to fade, but they did fade, and mostly the last 20 years has been pretty good. I’ve had some wonderful times and experiences that I would not trade for anything. I also have a lovely wife, and a beautiful little daughter who would never have even existed had I committed suicide. So not only am I happy that I stuck around, in putting it behind me I became stronger and more resilient. I don’t think anything is worth killing myself for now.

  6. I share, just as you’re doing here. I let people know they aren’t alone. Someone sent me this today after I posted about this same thing on my blog. I recently shared some photos that were taken during a down moment and I shared a bit about a past suicide attempt. I’d like to share but I see the rules request to not put links so I’ll just say thank you for your openness.

  7. AMAZING!! My favorite blog post this year no doubt! Tim, I may be in the minority but I doubt it because I am average FF…ing Joe. I rarely listen to yours or any body’s pod or video post. I guess they’re easy to make and you don’t have to worry about spelling and grammar and shit but they require more discipline and patience on the part of the listener/viewer and who the hell wants to do that when surfing the net!

  8. Tim,

    Thanks for this post, extremely important.

    I’m not sure if you’re aware of the veteran suicide epidemic, but since 2012 the number of military members who take their own life has surpassed the number killed by the enemy. The numbers are getting worse every year (18/day in 2013, 22/day in 2014).

    Vasper has started a nonprofit called Operation Forging Resilience specifically targeting military members with PTS, depression or injuries to offer free Vasper sessions because of the effects we’ve seen on sleep, mood, hormonal balance and pain relief.

    There is short mention by this 131st PJ from Moffett Field:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhPCqzUuzgU

    OFR website will be up soon but is already running free sessions for any veterans at 6868 Santa Teresa Blvd, San Jose, CA 95119. 408-912-1927

    Thanks,

    Bo

  9. Wow. Incredible post Tim. Might be one of your best posts yet. Thanks for having the courage to share your struggles, and insights. Incredibly humbling to hear you share this.

    I too, like much everyone else, have had some very dark moments. Like you said, when things get bad, and snowball, it’s very easy to think that there is there is no future — there is no hope… But that’s completely false. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to persevere. Fight the fight. Don’t let the demons and negativity get to you, stay centered and see thru to your glory.

    I’m really glad your alive Tim. Your insights have changed my life.

    Oh, and love that mantra “This too shall pass”…Such a great story:

    “Once a king called upon all of his wise men and asked them,

    ‘ Is there a mantra or suggestion which works in every situation, in every circumstances, in every place and in every time. Something which can help me when none of you is available to advise me. Tell me is there any mantra?’

    All wise men got puzzled by King’s question. One answer for all question? Something that works everywhere, in every situation? In every joy, every sorrow, every defeat and every victory? They thought and thought. After a lengthy discussion, an old man suggested something which appeal to all of them. They went to king and gave him something written on paper. But the condition was that king was not to see it out of curiosity. Only in extreme danger, when the King finds himself alone and there seems to be no way, only then he’ll have to see it. The King put the papers under his Diamond ring.

    After a few days, the neighbors attack the Kingdom. It was a collective surprise attack of King’s enemies. King and his army fought bravely but lost the battle. King had to fled on his horse. The enemies were following him. His horse took him far away in Jungle. He could hear many troops of horses were following him and the noise was coming closer and closer. Suddenly the King found himself standing in the end of the road – that road was not going anywhere. Underneath there was a rocky valley thousand feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished…and he could not return because it was a small road…From back the sound of enemy’s horses was approaching fast. King became restless. There seemed to be no way.

    Then suddenly he saw the Diamond in his ring shining in the sun, and he remembered the message hidden in the ring. He opened the diamond and read the message. The message was very small but very great.

    The message was – ‘ This too will pass.’

    The King read it . Again read it. Suddenly something strike in his mind- Yes ! it too will pass. Only a few days ago, I was enjoying my kingdom. I was the mightiest of all the Kings. Yet today, the Kingdom and all his pleasure have gone. I am here trying to escape from enemies. However when those days of luxuries have gone, this day of danger too will pass. A calm come on his face. He kept standing there. The place where he was standing was full of natural beauty. He had never known that such a beautiful place was also a part of his Kingdom. The revelation of message had a great effect on him. He relaxed and forget about those following him. After a few minute he realized that the noise of the horses and the enemy coming was receding. They moved into some other part of the mountains and were not on that path.

    The King was very brave. He reorganized his army and fought again. He defeated the enemy and regain his lost empire. When he returned to his empire after victory, he was received with much fan fare at the door. The whole capital was rejoicing in the victory. Everyone was in a festive mood. Flowers were being thrown on King from every house, from every corner. People were dancing and singing. For a moment King said to himself,” I am one of the bravest and greatest King. It is not easy to defeat me.: With all the reception and celebration he saw an ego emerging in him.

    Suddenly the Diamond of his ring flashed in the sunlight and reminded him of the message. He open it and read it again: ‘This too will pass’

    He became silent. His face went through a total change -from the egoist he moved to a state of utter humbleness.

    If this too is going to pass, it is not yours.

    The defeat was not yours, the victory is not yours.

    You are just a watcher. Everything passes by

    We are witness of all this. We are the perceiver. Life come and go. Happiness come and go. Sorrow come and go.

    Now as you have read this story, just sit silently and evaluate your own life. This too will pass. Think of the moments of joy and victory in your life. Think of the moment of Sorrow and defeat. Are they permanent ? They all come and pass away. Life just passes away.

    There were friends in past. They all have gone.

    There are friends today. They too will go.

    There will be new friends tomorrow. They too will go.

    There were enemies in past. They have gone.

    There may be enemy in present. They too will go.

    There will be new enemies tomorrow and……they too will go.

    There is nothing permanent in this world. Every thing changes except the law of change. Think over it from your own perspective. You have seen all the changes. You have survived all setbacks , all defeats and all sorrows. All have passed away. If there are problems in the present, they too will pass away. Because nothing remains forever. Joy and sorrow are the two faces of the same coin. They both will pass away. Who are you in reality? Know your real face. Your face is not your true face. It will change with the time. However, there is something in you, which will not change. It will remain unchanged. What is that unchangeable ? It is nothing but your true self.

    You are just a witness of change. Experience it, understand it.

    Everyday for 10-15 minutes sit in silence. Just think over the sentence, ‘This too will pass.’ Pondering over your own life will make you realize the true meaning of this sentence. Everything passes yet your real identity remains the same. That real you is your true self. To know that self is true meditation.”

  10. This was an incredibly moving account that took great courage to write. I lost one of my best college friends to suicide, an event I would imagine many can relate to. Thank you so much for posting this, and know that it may just help someone who is having those dark thoughts, or who has a friend going down this path. Best to you.

  11. I thought you might want to know more about the history of the Mexican proverb you quoted. It’s actually from a gay Greek poet from the 70s named Dinos Christianopoulos. It seems even more appropriate for your suicide topic since he was seeking sexual and creative acceptance from society.

  12. Tim,

    As a person who checked himself into a hospital to treat depression and OCD, I just wanted to write a small note of thanks for the piece. Mental illness and suicide are complex and difficult issues, with so many of us ashamed of our challenges. We are often led to believe that our struggles are a poor reflection on our parents or teachers or our true selves, and this builds walls of denial, guilt, and poor communication. Despite excellent treatment and solid recovery, I still sometimes think back on my life and feel inadequate as a man because I was hampered by fear and sadness in my teens, 20’s and even my early 30’s.

    Talking about your struggles honestly and openly matters to everyone. Anything that can hammer away at the stigma and silence will help in the long run. Your success now is an example to others who struggle, knowledge that the future gets brighter. When you talked about your thesis struggles, I had goosebumps from the similarity to parts of my own experiences. Years later, I can confirm that things that seemed all-consuming and consequential at the time no longer register as more than a blip on my resume and an occasional memory.

    To your readers: If you feel suicidal, please get help. Call the 800 number listed in the piece. Don’t be afraid to call 911. Don’t be afraid to check yourself into the hospital. Save your life – it is important – you are important. You will emerge from help and treatment far stronger than you entered it.

    Best,

    Michael

  13. Great post- thank you. It makes me feel so normal and human when I hear stories so much like mine. Depression was always a thing but it all blew up when I got my first job out of college. The real world was so much harder than school and I was drowning. I felt worthless at my job and at life. The healing came after I attempted. Actually seeing the pain it caused and feeling the love from my family motivated me to talk about it and get help. It’s self talk these days. When I feel myself getting in the “worthless” mood I remind myself that I’m a survivor. And survivors get through stuff.

  14. Thank you so much for posting this. I’m in college now and I completely broke down this semester and it’s really nice to know that someone I’ve looked up has the same struggles that I do now. I feel like this couldn’t have come at a better time, thank you for being so personal and open.

  15. This link caught my eye on Facebook. A couple weeks from now will be the 2nd year anniversary of my brother-in-law’s death by suicide.

    I would like to respond to your second point, “2. I realized it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.”

    I didn’t understand until I read some literature that many folks who commit suicide actually believe their loved ones are better off without them in their lives. It’s mental illness that creates this lie, but it’s a lie that they utterly and completely believe. I don’t believe for a second that my brother-in-law had any realistic foresight regarding his decision to jump in front of a semi on the highway– he didn’t have the capacity to do so. To imply that this is a realization that you can just achieve if you just consider how your loved ones would be hurt is painful to read, because whether you mean it or not, you’re implying that those who have chosen to leave just didn’t think about us, care enough, or love us enough to spare our pain. Dealing with the loss of a loved one though suicide is a complicated enough grief, and I hope that anyone who visits here whose pain over a loved one’s suicide is still stinging remembers that in all likelihood, their loved one didn’t think about the consequences because he or she couldn’t.

    I commend you for sharing your story, despite how vulnerable you felt. You probably have saved lives by baring this darkness. I do believe many folks going through harrowing times do need to be reminded of what a suicide would put their loved ones through. It’s just that many of us know too well that our loved ones were past that point.

  16. Your writing is so easy to read. Really beautiful stuff. This article will help a lot of people. Thank you for sharing your truth and by doing so, inspiring others to do the same!

  17. Thank you so much for opening up about this, Tim! : )

    I myself have had a similar experience, as have so many. My story started a few years earlier than yours, in high school. I had terrible social anxiety; I remember once in English class we all mulled to the front of the room to staple together our papers, and my hands were shaking so badly it took me 3 tries before I could push down hard enough to staple them. I would even change my path to avoid walking past someone on the sidewalk! I eventually started doing high school mostly online, which only served to isolate me most of the day and further reduce the amount of positive interactions I had with people outside of my immediate friends and family. My story from thereon was pretty typical in that it was filled with hopelessness that life would never get any better, and guilt, which in my case manifested in guilt about the environment and using up resources.

    There were a few things that did it for me, both of which are ironic. The first was the decision to buy a gun and kill myself when I turned 18. I wanted to do it right, and painlessly. They generally say making concrete plans is a serious sign, but in my case finally making a decision and a time allowed me to stop thinking about it day and night, while at the same time buying me time to focus, for the moment, on something else.

    The one, REAL, big thing, though, that turned my life around was community college. I live in WA, where we have the Running Start program that lets kids in the last 2 years of high school take some classes at participating community colleges. I could just about credit the discovery of this program with saving my life! I was so excited about an opportunity like this (especially since my parents hadn’t saved up any money for college and didn’t seem keen on forking out thousands of dollars), I learned everything I could, and signed up at the beginning of my junior year. Changed my life, plain and simple. People there were mature and respectful, and were there because they wanted to be, not because they had to be. Unlike in high school, I was treated like a competence individual rather than a preschooler that needed to be monitored and hand-held. I loved both learning and achieving, and I learned more, faster, and spent my time more efficiently than I ever had in my life, and I felt like the progress I was making was meaningful and worthwhile. With time, my social anxiety gradually improved, and by the time I graduated high school with my AA, I was 18 and lo and behold, I no longer had any desire to end my life.

    Without that program, I wonder if I might not be here right now, loving life; and if you haven’t guessed it, as a result I’m a huge proponent of affordable and accessible education. : )

    I like to think the moral of my story is that to lead a good life, you need to find somewhere you belong where you can do something you enjoy.

  18. Tim, most know me as a business journalist and author, but few are aware that my mother ended her life. Her mental illness and death has colored everything in my life. I am a Chicago volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide a Prevention and my message is for survivors: you are not alone. This is a club no one wants to join, but support can go a long way. Afsp.org.

  19. In my teens and early twenties, while in HS and/ college and undocumented:

    1) A mental comparison of my “misfortunes” (growing up undocumented in the US and the economic and social effects it has on an individual) with respect to much less favorable situations (being homeless, having no family, being handicapped, being physically hurt, etc in a third world or war stricken country) put my complaints in perspective – “things could be worst”.

    2) An evaluation of my parent’s (and anyone who supported / loved me) efforts to date and how ending my life equates to loss ROI. “I have to least live long enough to pay them back.”

    3) The self imposed burden (responsibility) to help family (parents / younger siblings – I’m eldest) live a better life (economically). “If not me, then who?”

    4) Pride – not wanting to be seen as weak (even if dead). “Is this how I want to be remembered?”

    Whatever got me through the day. Suicidal thoughts gain momentum fast and by prompting such questions it put a brake on these or at least diverted the path for the day.

  20. Mr. Ferris, thank you for this very important post. It takes balls to lay it out there, but as you can read in people’s comments, this confession and reflections will have a much needed, broader impact than just sharing with your close friends. My hat up, way up to you.

  21. Seneca’s meditations on death brought me to the same conclusion that ‘the afterlife might not actually be any better’, even though I’m not subscribed to the idea of agency consciousness post death (the math doesn’t add up to me).

    I dabbled in self mutilation at my lowest points. I’m not sure I’d call it an attempt; but my scars (15 years later) from it are the one lie I allow myself to tell my kids because it can be ‘contagious’ in a way. I hope you guys aren’t!

    I tried all my mental tricks “Someone out there is tied down , raped, with a needle being stuck in their eye, they have it worse than you do – quit whining” -self talk; drinking; sleeping around, and the cutting.

    I took a look at what this ‘thing’ I am was trying to do, from an outsiders perspective – which wasn’t hard for me at the time, I become pretty dissociated with myself when I’m depressed.

    ‘It’ was after pleasure, or, some kind of release from emotional pain. I was 19, away from my mother the first, longest time ever. I had achieved a long standing goal, which leaves a lot of emptiness. I was in another country with no family. I’m from one of the sunniest places on earth, and was experiencing one of the longest, coldest winters the Midwest had ever experienced (there was still snow on the ground in May). I had Seasonal Affective Disorder, clearly.

    I didn’t know any of this stuff at the time. Not enough maturity.

    I’ve now realized it works in cycles (for me). The shittiest parts of experiencing my life, I have to turn into something good. The great part about capitalizing on being a shitty human being is that the potential is never too far out of reach! But it’s potential fuel – if you don’t the tools to convert it for a long time; suicide seems viable.

    I have to turn forlorn, melancholy into leadership.

    Self-righteousness into discipline

    and

    Conceit into connection with others.

    Those are the opportunities I have to convert shit into sugar. (or…stevia..or…you know what I mean)

    I call them my own Fight, Flight, and Freeze survival responses.

    Sometimes I’m good at it. Sometimes I just want to ride the wave of whatever emotional turmoil I’m experiencing, and let the rage burn whoever is in my way. I rarely let that side win.

    Whichever I choose is ok.

    I forgive myself of my own ignorance, and everyone elses too.

  22. Tim, I have learned to view my extreme mood swings ranging from thoughts of death to unbelievable creativity as a birth process. Birth is painful and you think you are going to die (a woman’s point of view) but it is always worth it when you see the results of the new life you bring into the world.

  23. I made flash cards of things I liked and used them when I was feeling too surrounded by myself. I realized at some point that the most helpful things involved being around others. I paid a lot of visits to the bookstore, the library, and the gym where I could just be without any pressure.

  24. You never cease to amaze me! I want you as my friend. Not because you have overcome some huge obstacle, or become uber rich and famous, or your incredibly sexy, or your cool, or you have an amaZing list of talents. I want you as my friend because you are authentic and you have the balls of steel to share U with the world. Thank you!

  25. Thanks for this very important post. Last year a well liked brilliant girl at my sons high school committed suicide. The impact on the class of 2014 will be felt for years, not to mention her family. Another friend of my sons who we had been worrying about told my son to tell me I could stop worrying about him as he would never do this terrible thing to his little sister, no matter what. Impacts.

  26. Thanks so much for this post! I can recall sitting in a car Thanksgiving Day 2010 wanting to die while my wife and 5 sons were getting ready for Thanksgiving Dinner. Out of context it was ridiculous. What was the trigger? A spot on the ceiling that I feared was a leaky roof. A whole series of prior events made this ceiling spot the tipping point. My seven year old son came looking for me which changed my mental state and I went back into the house.

    Thanks!

  27. Tim, great post man! I’m glad you opened up to us like that.

    I remember your “”Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)” post. It showed me that even (Internet) famous people like you have problems. Like you I went to a high school where high performers were the norm and like you went to a neighboring state to attend an even tougher college (well, they like to call themselves an “Institute”). And like you my world imploded (girlfriend, parents got divorced, dad got laid-off, and my academics slid into the gutter) during my senior year.

    Author Piers Anthony said, and I’m paraphrasing, that he doesn’t suffer from depression, but rather from recession, as if his thermostat is set too low.

    My highs and lows are tempered and I have never seriously considered suicide. But I am dimly aware that monster is in the corner and reading posts like these give me assurances I can continue avoiding the monster and trudge through life just like you and countless others.

  28. Thank you for you honesty and thoroughness with this post. You always have the best content on your site and your willingness to be open and vulnerable is awe inspiring.

  29. When I was 14, I lost my 17-year-old brother. That was 35 years ago, and it still gnaws at me something fierce. I’ve had my own spiral, and I hit bottom hard at the age of 30. It has been uphill ever since, but I have lost lots of people to suicide, including the 1st and 2nd person I ever called my best friend.

    Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Think of all the dramas in your past that never amounted to anything.

    Thank you for speaking up. We are learning to ask for help, as a society, but there are more cracks to fall through than ever, as our economy shifts to include fewer people (at least in this hemisphere). We need role models with the courage to lead by example. We all struggle, and we can all draw strength from each other, when we honestly share about our pain.

  30. Incredible article, Tim! Silas said it best, “People listen to you.” It’s true and we appreicate you writing with such openness.

  31. I’m so glad you’re still here, Tim. Thank you for sharing this–it makes me wonder if this will be helpful for others to understand and deal with suicidal thoughts like Allie Brosh’s honest talk about depression on her comic blog, Hyperbole and a Half. Like Allie’s post, this really gave me greater insight into a devastating mindset and helps me understand what others might be going through.

    You don’t know me, and I don’t know you personally, but that doesn’t matter–I’m still very glad that you’re still here. Thank you for your honesty and a beautifully-written essay on this sensitive but important topic.

  32. Thank you Tim, that was beautiful. There was a lump in my throat the whole time I read it. Keep up the awesome work!

    Thanks also to everyone else who has commented and contributed some amazing stories and advice.

    Anyone who knows me would say that I am happy, friendly, enthusiastic and always bring forward a positive attitude. Depressive thoughts have peaked twice in my life though, once at boarding school and again just recently.

    I am popular, loved by my family, very successful in my career, earn over $250k/year and am almost financially free, keep myself in shape, am 30 years young, attractive, do amazing and fun things that a lot of people would be envious of, but I have felt and sometimes still feel very unsatisfied. I sometimes think what is the point of all this. I feel numb, like I am sleepwalking. Then I also feel guilty for having those thoughts.

    Here are the things that help me:

    Giving to and helping others, daily outside exercise, mindfulness meditation, gratitude (I list 10 things every day), journalling, learning, developing new skills, meeting new people, fun activities with positive friends, connecting to other people, listening to you & other inspirational and interesting people, working on my happiness, knowing that I am in control of my own thoughts and can notice and change them if I want to.

    I’ve also had similar thoughts to many people above. If you are thinking of killing yourself, stop everything you are doing and change. Sell-up and travel the world…. Reset/ start over. It’s got to be better for you and those around you than killing yourself.

    The background on my boarding school days:

    I changed schools a lot as a child and was always very popular. Then at age 13 I went to an upper class all girls boarding school for three years in the city where I felt like I did not fit in. Ironically because I was down to earth, did hand weights and sit-ups daily, was modest about my families wealth (I hadn’t even heard of Gucci or Prada). Qualities that I look back on today and am proud to have had. The pain lead me to withdraw, partake in regular negative self talk and even minor self harm. I remember calling home upset and mum and dad not wanting to listen or being too busy to listen. Or maybe I could not find the words to communicate my feelings. This was pre-mobile phone days so there were also 15 teenage girls waiting in line behind me listening to my call. I did not realise at the time that I should have talked more, I could have done something about it like changed schools. I did what I knew at the time – exercise, buried myself in my school work and tried to find friends who accepted me for who I was and not how much money my family had or what clothes I was wearing. As soon as I graduated and left that place I went back to my happy and normal self.

    Interestingly enough in talking to another ex-boarder recently she said “Oh yes you will not survive at boarding school by being nice. You’ve got to be a bitch.” What a horrible thought….

    Anyway life is short, I’m still learning, and looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen next. I wish lots of love and happiness to you all. 😀

  33. Hey Tim,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a truly brave and inspiring thing to do.

    It is eerily timed for me as two years ago this Saturday, my oldest son completed suicide. (“completed” suicide is a term a therapist said we should use when discussing it) I hope your audience (and Derek’s) can get this article in front of the eyes of everyone on the planet.

    Your friend who said suicide is like taking your pain, multiplying it 10x and, giving it to the ones who love you is absolutely 110% correct. My family and I have been struggling to pick up the pieces for two years. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of some event or incident where I question how if I handled it differently maybe the final outcome would have changed. (a lot of therapy keeps me from blaming myself but the thoughts still creep into your subconscious)

    You should look up Living Mentally Well with Kevin Hines on Facebook. He is one of only a handful of people who jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge and survived. I attended a talk Kevin had my hometown a few months after Aaron’s death. His talk helped up understand the helplessness and thought process leading up to the moment he jumped off of the bridge. It is a great story to help survivors of suicide “understand” and come to terms a little better.

    His story might also help people who are planning their suicide to understand there is hope and better days ahead, but I can only speak as a “survivor of suicide” who has had to pick up the pieces and figure out how to keep moving forward.

    You should also check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness #IWillListen campaign. Those thee simple words, I Will Listen, could save a life.

    Sorry for the rambling but your story really touched me and I plan to share it on Saturday (the anniversary of Aaron’s death) with all of my friends in my social media network. I hope you have a chance to check out these two resources and continue to spread the word.

    Thanks again Tim!

  34. 4 interesting guys to hear out; Alvin Plantinga, Guy Consolmagno,Richard Swinburne, Michael Heiser. You go there and your world will open up again, it is heavy but not heavier than suicide.

  35. God bless you and thank you so much for putting yourself out there. When I was in high school my much-loved brother tried to commit suicide – and failed and dragged himself home – and despite feeling that his life was over and all was lost,…healed, restored himself, and created a rich and wonderful life. That was 50 years ago and he’s one of the kindest and happiest people I know. Don’t give up, peoples.

    I have often fought the dragon of depression in my own life, and have found it helpful to write notes to myself when I’m feeling well, to read when I’m going under. Hints of what helps. The things to remember. The music to listen to, the poetry to read. The people and animals who love me. Have it written down. And to remember that your thoughts and emotions, although so strong, are not necessarily accurate.

    God bless all of you peoples out there too.

  36. Major respect to you Tim for putting in the time and effort to create this gut wrenching post. There are far too many souls who are tripping on the edge of darkness that are in desperate need of a hand to reach out and pull them back. I can imagine how difficult exposing these truths of your history to the world was for you…and I commend you for your courage in sharing.

    I also wanted to make an introduction for you to someone who could help provide your audience with more value and perspectives on this tough topic. One of my best friends Edward Aguilar has dealt with numerous friends and family members over the years who took their own lives. He has helped numerous people step back from their planning stages and back into the light of life. Multiple times his Youtube videos have touched a viewer at 2 a.m. who was on the verge…and then made the decision to live. I know he can help you spread this vital message to those in need. I made sure to tell him about your post today..so I’m sure he will also reach out to you to help.

    As always, you continue to inspire and encourage us all to keep striving for answers to all the questions that life provides. Keep on keeping on Tim!

  37. First of all Tim, thanks for being real and sharing a part of your true self here. That’s not easy.

    I remember as a teen hearing about suicide and having adults talk with us about suicide and I thought “Who would ever want to do that?” Then, I had children. Messed up hormones, adrenal fatigue, out of whack neurotransmitters, and blood sugar that was not in check all contributed to suicidal thoughts that scared the heck out of me. Luckily I found a Naturopath that helped me get all of those straightened out without the use of any drugs (SSRI’s).

    So I wanted to add to your exemplary list:

    -The lack of a vitamin as simple as magnesium can contribute to depression in a major way. Magnesium glycinate is a favorite of mine. Start with 100mg and increase until you’re at about 400mg per day. If it causes loose stool, back off and increase more slowly.

    -Hormones (both in men and women) can impact mental health in a major way. Get your hormone levels checked, preferably by a Functional Medicine Specialist or Naturopath.

    -Neurotransmitters- If you’re depressed, having your neurotransmitters checked is a good idea (a couple of neurotransmitter names you might know are serotonin and GABA).

    -Food sensitivities can often exacerbate (or even cause) depression and mood disorders. Following Tim’s slow carb diet in his book The 4 Hour Body (sans the cheat day), is a good way to figure out if foods like gluten and dairy are impacting your life. If you notice that foods are causing mood swings you might try a full on Elimination Diet (there’s a new book out on how to implement an Elimination Diet by Tom Malterre that I highly recommend) to pinpoint exactly what is causing your issues.

    Tim’s point about it affecting your entire family is SO true. Suicide doesn’t only impact your mom and dad, it impacts your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, even your neighbors kids.

    Lastly, don’t be afraid to show up at just about any church. A pastor, the secretary, even the janitor will talk to you, or simply just pray with you. If no one is there, just sitting in a house of worship and asking for help from our Heavenly Father may surprise you. Life may suck but God is always there to help us through it. All we have to do is ask.

  38. Thank You so very much. I have been in a 15 year battle with PTSD and medication resistant depression.

    the past 9 months I have been struggling with viral labyrinthitis and vertigo.

    Literally Housebound. I am a single, never married 59 year old woman who was a nurse for 25 years now on disability.

    I had made a decision that this nausea and dizziness was not getting better and I was going to check out. I was just done with everything, close friends and family dying and all of this.

    I read your whole post and It helped me realize I am in the middle of an emotional storm.

    I am thinking of the rest of my Family now and will begin to carve a new path.

    hugs mar

  39. This post is sublime, and so utterly important. I narrowly survived my own suicide attempt in July of 2013. At the time, I couldn’t fathom that my life would get better, but now I’m so glad I’m here. Your courage and vulnerability are going to help save lives, and your tips for helping get through the darkness are spot on. Thanks so much.

  40. Gold Tim, love your work:

    I find contrast showers, Hot and cold help me…I have learnt about the 2 buckets therapy, basically 2 buckets of cold water poured over oneself after a hot shower is an instant mood lifter…

    Nedley’s Depression Recovery Program is pretty awesome too…

    Love and light

  41. What heart it takes to write such an article. So appreciate that you did this. I’ve been pretty low but the second I became a mom I lost the luxury of fantasizing of a way out. There have been some tough times and yes mostly caused by being disconnected and having my inner dialogue blow everything out of perspective and proportion. Such an important topic. You posted this yesterday and today someone had jumped off a building in my city. We should increase suicide awareness.

    Once again it took balls! Way to go.

  42. Thanks for writing this and sharing your story. I think what you experienced is a lot more common than most people think. It is my experience (and observation) that when someone is feeling overwhelmed that is when the abyss comes calling. It doesn’t help that most people (even well educated people who should know better) view any mental health issue as a failure of character, not as a psycho biological issue to be treated. It seems that the majority of the population has a decided 18th century view of mental health issues. Hence, people don’t receive the treatment they should.

    The dumbest comment I have ever heard was a comment that a psychiatrist made to me during my abyss time. He said to me, “How can you be depressed, you are too smart to have problems.” If a psychiatrist thinks that way is it little wonder people won’t talk about what is causing them pain?

    My “vow” wasn’t one made to another person, but it works for me; I promised myself that I would never do anything that I would be ashamed of the children in my life finding out. That has saved me from a few bad judgement calls. 🙂

    Thanks for being brave, Tim.

  43. Thank you for this, I had my “dark periods” and most of the things you describe really help me, like go to the gym and go out with friends at least once a week, funny is we always think we are alone in this battle with depression and feel nobody understand this pain, when reallity is most of the people have the same feeling… Thanks you are THE MEN!

  44. In December of 2005 I was in a similar place thinking very dark thoughts. I remembered my promise my mom and I made to each other after one of her suicide attempts in the 90s that we would not commit such an act without first reaching out to one another. It was kind of like a safeguard.

    I remember crying out to God to hear my prayer for a job and within minutes a phone call came in that I was hired and needed to report to my new employer at 8am Monday morning.

    Higher power, Universe, what the heck ever, all I know is that I am here now and I have never forgotten that moment.

    Thanks for sharing man. I feel you have touched a very tender spot in all of our hearts and memories and the most important thing is we are not alone.

  45. Wow! Great article, Tim. This is amazing. I can totally relate to a lot of this. I, too, have dark secrets I’ve never shared but have felt the need to share recently. Having lived with major ups and downs all my life – divorce, financial challenges, recession, and just general bad luck. A few people even told me that if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Even recently I had a plan to die. Not the conventional way. I won’t share about it here but it was to be more of a disappearing act…. Anyway, I just want to quickly share what things have made the difference for me. Here they are.

    1) Accepting that I can’t control everything and learning to accept circumstances as challenges, and focusing more on what I can do to change things.

    2) Spending lots of time in the wilderness, particularly alone. I’m like a cross between Indiana Jones and Bear Grylls. Exploring cool lesser-known places and practicing wilderness survival is the best therapy I’ve ever experienced. After every trip, even just a couple of days, I feel like I can conquer the world.

    3) Regular intense exercise and long runs. I get that runners’ high after about 5 miles. It is wonderful!

    4) I’ve eaten an incredibly healthy diet for years and maintaining the high protein (at least a dozen eggs a day), high fat (quality butter, coconut oil, and raw whole milk cream), and lots of fresh veggies keeps me in top shape even at age 42. I haven’t done an abs work out in months and they are still just as ripped as ever.

    5) Spiritual connection with God and considering the fact that a lot of people love me very much despite my own self-inflicted insults of failure. Spending time in nature always brings me back to the basic meaning of life, but knowing that my family and friends would be devastated with my death is just too much to allow such a thing to happen.

    I get frustrated with challenges of creating a successful business, but despite this, I realize that I’ve managed to live a dream life in the past year as a result of my persistence. Much of this motivation has come from your books, Tim, specifically “The 4-Hour Work Week” and “4-Hour Body”. I don’t make a lot as a stock photographer but the royalties allow me to spend months at a time living and exploring in southern Mexico and spending lots of time with my son playing soccer almost every day, and more time with my wife. I’ve learned a lot and really believe that I have valuable information and experiences to share with the world. This has given me a purpose to fight for. I believe, speaking from a man’s point of view, that we men are made to fight. Not necessarily physically but rather to be leaders that fight for good, to fight to improve first the lives of our immediate family and then that for others. We aren’t here just to work and collect material objects, and to make a family and have children that just do the same. Look at the great men of history, men who explored, mapped new territories, conquered. That’s what makes a man feel alive, and the world needs men who are really alive!

    When I was stuck under the heavy weight of bills, rent, car expenses, and had only low paying jobs that I hated, I dreamed of escaping. I was even dumpster diving to help make some cash, but it did no good. I had to let it all go and escape the ridiculously high cost of living in southern California and live in Mexico for a while. Fortunately I had been selling stock photography online for a while and it, along with random short-term jobs in the U.S. that I would occasionally pick up, it was more than enough to support us in southern Mexico and gave me more time to dedicate to the work I love – exploring, photography, wilderness survival, identifying wild edible plants, and making YouTube videos of my travels. As a result of this, I even recently had an interview with Discovery Channel for a host position for a new show they will be shooting.

    So, now I can see a bigger picture, a more purposeful life ahead. My faith has increased. I know there will be more challenges and failures ahead but I’m not afraid because I’ve been at the bottom for so long, and I survived, and there is only one direction to go – UP!

  46. Thanks a lot for the brave post! I am a professional trained to take care of other fellow beings in need, at crossroads in my carrier for which I have spent more than half my life studying and training. I get great satisfaction seeing others benefit from my the knowledge and skills developed over two decades of training and learning and feel it is worth all the effort and sacrifices made along the way. However recent events that I am experiencing can very well put an end to all of it and thoughts of suicide has crossed my mind on many occasions and even have devised plans which I am sure will be successful if carried out with the expertise I have.

    When I am down the dark alleyways… the thing that has prevented me form carrying out my well thought of plans is the vision of the innocent happy face of my four year old daughter… Having a loved one whom you care very much is a deterrent or at least I hope is a strong enough deterrent…. Thanks again sharing your experiences with us..

  47. Man I just think it’s freakish how much I relate to you in more than a few ways… I have so much shit on my table (part-time job, start-up, professional golf career, recent long-term relationship gone to shit, masters application, you name it) that I find it so overwhelming and like you say, the present seems like an impossible situation. What helps me everyday is the fact that I know I’ll be able to one day look back in retrospect (just like you have) and see this moment in my life as the necessary evil that I had to go through in order to grow as a person and the heartbreak that I would learn from that would in turn allow me to be that person I saw myself becoming… Psychotherapy seems to works meanwhile, and I’m still waiting for the effects of TM to kick in but I’m also giving that a shot.

    Thanks for the post Tim, and I’m grateful for still having you amongst us.

  48. Tim,

    Your latest post on suicides was exceptional. I was moved by your narration of the experience that motivated you to write this post. Your experiences with depression and how you coped with them is good insight for those trying to do the same. I’ve been following you for years now, but this is the first time I’m posting a comment because I felt indebted to write a comment here. You do excellent writing and are a good example to follow. I hope this story helps others and shows light to people looking for a little flicker of hope.

    Thanks!

  49. This might be the most valuable post you’ve ever written. Given your what you’ve already written, that’s saying a lot.

    I wish some close friends of mine had had a chance to read this.

    Thank You for baring it all to the world wide fucking web.

  50. I have been there due to a relationship ending, not being able to move abroad as planned, having to move back in with my parents and lots of things like that. I was devastated and spend month crying and hating life. But now I know it was nothing major. It was a bunch of curved balls that life throws at you, which make you stronger in the end.

    What helped me was getting help, nobody needed to know so I was shamed but I felt stronger already for attacking my problem. And I realized when I opened up to friends that a lot of people have been there. You are not alone, nobody is alone.

    Also realizing like the article said that I would probably kill my parents and my sister with this and just me but them as well. Yes they would still be alive but I would kill their souls. Of the people I love the most.

    I started going outside a lot for long walks with my dog. And I looked for a goal, a came up with something I really dreamed of, for me it was living in California for a while. This helped me I was looking forward to something. Don’t make this another scary thing but something that motivates you. Maybe your light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a trip you would love to take, or seeing an old friend or writing a book, whatever it is do it just for you. Not for money, fame, love or anything else but for your pleasure.

    These were the things that helped me both through it. What helps me stay focus now is really chosing to look on the positive side. We can always be negative and it is sometimes so much easier but try to look on the bright side. Actively do so. It takes training but it becomes easier and easier and makes life more fun. Smile when you can even at strangers. And like Tim said workout and live healthy it makes you feel better and more balanced. Always be one to the people you love, tell them when you’re having a bad day and surround yourself with friends when you feel like hiding from the world. Don’t isolate yourself. Your friends love you and will make you feel better.

  51. Very very good post. I had a scarily similar experience during college here in Sweden, feeling like I was painted into a corner academically and failing my long standing “plan”. Just like I’ve seen when high performing friends have gotten in the same situation, closing the curtains, hiding in bed and hoping for a miracle seems typical.

    I took a year off, moved city and worked as a writer, and regained confidence (and hope). Came back one year later energized in a way I hadn’t been for several years. That led me to start an ecommerce business (while still in Business school) which now six years later is quite successful. Lot’s work and responsibility though – just like your initial chapter in 4 hour work week. I’m obviously making all your mistakes in sequential order and thus ironically core demographic for Mr Ferriss.

    The gain of getting to the edge and coming back is that you suddenly get the entire spectrum of emotional life. Almost key to deeper understanding in existential philosophy.

  52. Tim. This got me deep. I shall return to this post for some time to come. So silly the thesis when you now affect hundreds of thousands of lives with a post like this. Bravissimo.

  53. For depression one of the greatest healers is time. Time spent with close friends, with your partner, with your family, with your therapist. In severe cases medication does work despite the side effects. Sometimes depression is a sign that a change in outlook is needed. If you can tell your story – the story about the inside of you – not what you did at work today – things may get better. Exposing your innermost thoughts to a trusted person(s) firstly makes it real & exposes your world to the outside – there is then it may be possible that you can see more clearly what is happening in your head – it is then may lose its dominance & that the light of other good aspects of your life shine. A friend may need to tell you this first before you can accept there is good inside.

  54. Tim,

    You are neither a coward, nor have you failed anyone. Don’t forget the tremendous impact you have on people’s lives with what you do. This post, which you wrote at just the right time, is an amplifier of everything you’ve given to this world .

    Man am I glad that your parents received that (in retrospect) hilarious note from the library! Even without knowing you personally, it’s great to know you are still roaming this planet.

    My own experience with suicidal thoughts is probably not as severe, but the thoughts were there, about a decade ago in my early twenties.

    The cure was something you wouldn’t really expect: The purchase of my first car, a used Honda Civic. The sugar high was enough to get me out and do things, embark on adventures, and meet new people until the darkness passed and I realized how many fun things there are to do in this world. I also found myself seeking ways to unleash my physical and mental potential.

    All,

    So while I’m generally skeptical towards the idea of consumerism as a solution to problems, it might just save your life 🙂

    But seriously, the point is to engage in something exciting. In my case, I really enjoyed the freedom of being able to drive around in my first own car.

    Now, not everyone may have a few thousand bucks laying around to purchase big toys, but you owe it to yourself to experience something fun, whether or not that requires that you make a purchase.

    If anything, buy a 1-way plane ticket and go somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel to. Nothing to lose, right?

    Cheers,

    Chris

  55. Thanks for going deep, what a relief. I’m a psychotherapist and I know how helpful this will be for your high achieving readers. I work with people from horrendous backgrounds dealing with life threatening stuff and I’ve heard no truer description of the thinking process. Proud of you.

  56. Thank you so much. I didn’t have suicidal thoughts but I suffered from depression for a long time. I tried to reject that thought. Now I came to acceptance and can do something about it instead of fooling myself.

    Often depressed people are hiding behind smiling masks.

  57. Thank you for this. It’s such an important perspective to share, and your forthright words will save lives. For my part, thank you for including the productivity hacks excerpt, which completely changed my thinking when I read it back when you first posted it. It works, it helps, and it made it possible for me to climb out of a dark well of depression and anxiety I’d been fighting for a long time. (It really works, folks.)

  58. 1) TFC Food = Love!

    2) To this day, some of the worst human beings I’ve *ever* met in my life have been some of the professors, administrators, and students at Princeton. What a bunch of joyless, shallow, and cruel cowards.

    While worldly success isn’t everything, I LOVE the fact that you’ve had so much of it — and yes, this is petty, but I hope that professor sees your name repeatedly on the best-seller list / every time he walks past a bookstore. How many people have read HIS books? Hmm…let’s see…..what’s Japanese for “probably six at most”? And let me guess — the same administrators who treated you (like so many of us) like shit are probably now begging you for donations?

  59. Thanks for this Tim. It really takes some courage to share your own personal story. Not courage in a “talk on live TV in Tagalog after 3 days” but courage in the vulnerable sense of the word.

    The courage to let people see what really happened, and to share the story of how you sank to the depths to help people who are currently down there.

    You’re a great man, and I’m very glad you chose to stay alive.

  60. The most heart felt blog I’ve ever read, Thank you. I have struggled with depression and fatigue and some pretty dark thoughts at times. I don’t think I have ever been that close to killing myself but the struggle can be hard. I found professional help with a hypotherapist really helped, also meditation. I am using an app called head space and am noticing a real difference. For me the app is key to practicing meditation as it is not easy to do effectively with out guidance.

    A great quote from my therapist “everything you need to succeed, you already have within you”

    I like to think that can be relevant to anyone having internal battles of any kind.

    Never give up on yourself, you can get from a very dark place to being happy faster than you think.

  61. Not sure how to feel? Your blog opened a myriad of wounds that still bleed. My cousin killed himself, my brother killed himself and recently a brother in law. A lot of people I know, have someone they love that has committed suicide. I have written about the topic and it comes in flows, after a person close to me chooses to leave earth by suicide. So maybe I can shed some insight to the other side. They are not really dead, only transformed. No, I am not advocating suicide. And yes, your right, suicide is releasing the pain; to those who do love you, and are left behind. Incredible life long guilt burdens family left behind. But that is a book, and I am only commenting. I know that love is not enough to save someone from suicide. And the song ‘All you need is love’ sadly, is not true! You suggested the ‘vow’ and this is excellent. The ‘vow’ may be a spiritual life saving chord, in a very dark, dark place of chaos and pain and despair. Now, I am going to go write my vow, and give to someone I do not ever want to hurt, and I am going to ask them to make the same vow to me.

  62. Thank you for sharing this Tim!

    Especially for your advice on routines that can help and the audio by Tony. I’d love to hear more about that if you have the time. Keep up the good work!

    Johannes

  63. Best and most important thing you have ever written, hands down. I’m sure this will make a difference for many.

  64. Thank you Tim and I have forwarded this post to 8 of the Family Medicine practitioners that I am mentoring/training in Adelaide Australia. Your words deserve spreading.

  65. Incredible and timely post Tim.

    In our quest for success it’s important to recognise that we all face the down times as well. The times where it feels like the world is falling in and you will never escape.

    Big respect. You are the man.

  66. Tim,

    Sharing your experience was a courageous one, but having read so much of you over the years, I really think that this is your most important piece of work so far.

    With your role model influence on young men (and older ones too) it is so important to do what you have done throughout your writing and be completely honest about the reality of life. Everyone experiences an irregular life path and giving up is never the only option, even if it seems that way.

    We make decisions based on the best choice that is available to us at the time. If we only have a single option and if we keep it all in, (a male trait) we are not likely to find any alternative ones, so it’s not much of a surprise that suicide is a leading cause of death amongst men.

    Suicide is a stigma that we all need to talk about and get out in the open if we want to reduce its grip, so huge respect to you for getting it out there.

  67. Thanks for this very open and personal letter – and thanks for having a positive influence on my life for years.

    Without 4HWW I would never have changed my actions, to achieve a recurring passive income.

  68. I was clinically depressed for 4 years, I was completely suicidal for 2 years. I could not bring myself to do graphically. I attempted a couple of times to overdose on legal drugs, in one instance by suffocation but it was impossible to set-up properly because I was admitted and in a psychiatric ward at the time.

    I not been depressed again since that time (6 six years), or suicidal again. But two years being suicidal is a very long time. I can tell you that I could not ‘think’ myself out of feeling so terrible. Unless you’ve been so seriously clinically depressed, you cannot possibly understand how terrible one can feel. You literally want to kill yourself because you feel so mentally low and terrible every waking minute that no life at all feels like it would be better. Take that seriously, imagine how terrible one must feel.

    I was very intelligent, and I could not think myself out of it. What helped? I think my case was unique. What helped me was anger. I literally had not felt anger for maybe 8 years or so prior to starting to heal. I let myself feel angry about my situation. That emotional reaction alone was more positive. Feeling angry is better than feeling empty. I channeled it into motivation. It took a year or riding an anger I found, and using it as motivation, I kept going, and exposed myself every day to everything I was scared of. It took a year. I remember one day asking myself “If I could die painlessly right now, would I?” For a couple years prior the answer was “Absolutely do it do it!”. My answer was now “No, I want to live”.

    Thats a broad outlook on how I got out of it. But I will say what also helped prevent me from doing it successfully was knowing and meditating on how it would absolutely DESTROY my family (my parent’s life would just be utterly ruined) and deeply hurt any friends I had that cared about me.

    I was told I was only young and things could only get better. But trust me, 4 years of being clinically depressed, you don’t give a fuck, you feel so terrible that phrase means nothing. But.. You’ve got to know, you can get past it someday.

    I’m so happy I’m alive!

  69. Tim,

    Thanks for a great article. I would like to contribute something that I recently discovered. I 100% agree with every suggestion and tip you mentioned. However, like Tony Robbins spoke about if ones biochemistry is off balance it doesn’t matter what kind of psychological or self help technique you try it will not work longterm.

    My personal experience of suffering with severe anxiety for over 10 years. And severe depression with suicidal ideations and 2 half assed attempts for 3 years. I was also hospitalized 6 times and spent a total of over 6 months in psych wards. I tried everything from a phychological , spiritual and self help perspective and I just couldn’t keep the symptoms at bay. Very recently (past 3 month) I have been working with a Functional Medicine doctor who did very advanced testing on me. Blood, urine, fecal and saliva. What I found out was my body was out of balance in many ways. Hormone imbalances, toxicities, parasites, heavy metal poisoning as well as being depleted in very important elements that the body needs to function properly can definitely cause anxiety and depression. And definitely cause your brain to malfunction and your mind to become fixated on negative thought of despair and cause delusional ruminations.

    Without addressing these imbalances a person can become chronically “stuck” in a depressive and suicidal state such as I was.

    Within weeks of doing natural things such as radically changing my diet. Eliminating all processed foods and taking certain natural supplements such as specific amino acids which are precursors that the body needs to make neurotransmitters such as serotonin. (Check out the book “Mood Cure”) my anxiety and depression vanished. I am now able to handle stressors in my life that used too kick the shit out of me with much more effectiveness and all the other cognitive, psychological and self help techniques that I learned have powerfully fallen into place and are very effective for me when before they failed.

    So, in summary a healthy person will not commit suicide, because healthy people are happy and have the natural ability too bounce back and adapt to stress and life.

    That’s my two cents. Hope this helps someone.

    Peace and Love

    Dr. Eric

  70. “I could just remember how my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” – William Faulkuner, As I Lay Dying

    Out of the Hundreds quotes i keep at bay, this is one of the few i remember the most.

    After losing so much, time after time(you can almost compare it to eloise and abelard) you start to realize that you’re here for this, to live life to the fullest, and enjoy the relief that death will bring you, when you have nothing else to live for, but pain and joy walk hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other, so to all of you that have lost someone i have something to say out of experience.

    No matter how much it hurts and how much you might miss a person, you will see her once again, or what i like to believe about death you won’t even remember that person anymore, start thinking about death as something freeing instead of being imprisoned by such fate. For me life is dictated by the time you put in with the people that you love the most, if you loose someone, fill that void by loving another, but never take your own life, in the end you won’t have to.

  71. Hey Tim,

    I remember when I was in this state I was so numb I couldn’t quite imagine my effect on other people and I certainly couldn’t make a list that I could even whittle down to one thing. But I think the promise gig is what helped me.

    When I look back I think there were two tiny things that helped. And they really did look like pinpricks of light in a black pit, but hey, sometimes that is all you need.

    One was a bargain I made with myself. I would wake up in the morning and promise that today I would not kill myself. Not today. I couldn’t really function properly but I could just tell myself “not today”. Kind of like a very black AA approach to suicide!!

    The other was – and I only can see this in hindsight, I didn’t realise at the time, that I didn’t quite trust my judgement. I felt like I was in a trap of some sort. I dimly sensed something was really wrong and somewhere way way back in the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t right, that I wasn’t thinking clearly. But god, I was SO exhausted. Maybe you Tim, maybe some of the commenters remember it, but it is a particularly grinding constant exhaustion when you are fighting internally for your own life.

    I’d survived a bleak, Jerry-Springer-worthy childhood and I suppose it seemed such a shame to waste myself in my 20s when things could potentially get better. It was just a chink, so small I didn’t know it was there at the time, but it whirled away in the background, (like Javis in deep cover, scrambling missile launch codes , after Ultron destroys him in Age of Ultron!).

    So my advice for anyone in the pit at the moment, hang fast, just get through one day at a time. Make someone, even yourself a promise just like Tim recommends. It’s not true that you need to die, it is not true that your judgement is good here, you are not flawed and wasted, you aren’t – you are in the middle of a trap. Buy yourself some time and get some help.

    And don’t trust the pit. It lies.

  72. All of your other writing improves lives, Tim. This one will save some. What a brave, beautiful and darkness-busting thing you did by writing this. Bravo. And thank you. I’ll be sharing this, again and again…

  73. Ok…this post made me cry…it is written with astonishing compassion and intelligence.

    And such beautifully written post on theme of hopelessness and suicide is very much needed in this world. Thank you Tim.

  74. I’ll add my voice to the mix: Do one thing each day that’s just for you for no other reason than that you love it. It’s easy to stop doing things for yourself in the midst of stress and depression, but small things (even something as small as baking cookies just because you want one fresh out of the oven or taking an hour out of your stressful day to read a novel) add up. There’s a certain powerful and unspoken message we send our bodies and hearts when we do this: I care about you. Even if you’re feeling isolated and like no one else cares – I do.

  75. “Other” people often don’t understand. They will trivialize it, call the suicide person “crazy,” try to isolate (distance) it from themselves. Only we, ourselves understand our own emotions. It’s our job to help ourselves and that could mean getting medication or professional counseling. Meditation helped me.

  76. I volunteered as a UK Samaritan (the suicide hotline) for 5 years and they are an amazing organisation with amazing people manning their phones and email. Do reach out and speak to someone. Equally why not volunteer? Helping others gets you out of your own head.

  77. You rock! almost 7% of Americans struggle with depression every year. If you aren’t suffering depression, you know someone who is. It’s crazy how such a common illness is such a taboo topic.

  78. This article is timely. Life is beautiful and need not be defined by others or hard external circumstances. All of us have a gift and we are born to share that gift. Thank you for this particluar article. I read your works: 4HWW, 4HB

  79. This post is extremely helpful. So many people need to see this. Too many suffer in silence.

    One thing I’ve seen help folks immensely over time is EFT or Tapping. I recommend going to eftuniverse.com to find information and in particular a list of professionals who can help.

    Thank you.

  80. I think you have done a great service by posting this. Suicide is a topic brushed under the rug, so to speak. It takes courage to talk about it and lets others know they are not alone.