What It Feels Like to Be Suicidal

398px-Hofmann_Lehrbuch_suicide_stabbingInteresting piece on suicidal ideation in Scientific American.

Scientific American:

In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions, not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are evaluated critically. And, as I mentioned in last week’s column on the evolutionary biology of suicide, from a psychological science perspective, I don’t think any scholar ever captured the suicidal mind better than Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister in his 1990 Psychological Review article , “Suicide as Escape from the Self.” To reiterate, I see Baumeister’s cognitive rubric as the engine of emotions driving deCatanzaro’s biologically adaptive suicidal decision-making. There are certainly more recent theoretical models of suicide than Baumeister’s, but none in my opinion are an improvement. The author gives us a uniquely detailed glimpse into the intolerable and relentlessly egocentric tunnel vision that is experienced by a genuinely suicidal person.

Keep reading.

32 Comments on "What It Feels Like to Be Suicidal"

  1. Hey, Matt – Where did you find that illustration?

  2. Ted Heistman | Nov 17, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

    I know it was inappropriate, but this made me laugh out loud:

    ” a study on suicides in the U.S. military branches found that guns were
    most frequently associated with Army personnel suicides, hanging and
    knots for those in the Navy, and falling and heights were more common
    for those in the Air Force.”

  3. Ted Heistman | Nov 17, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

    It was a good article though. a lot of useful info.I guess what helps me get through tough times is trying new things. Traveling to a new area, Stuff like that. “When one realizes that his life is worthless he either commits suicide or travels” Edward Dahlberg

    • Or travel and then suicide.

      Or suicide and then travel.

    • herman Melville says something almost exctly like that in the first chapter, first paragraph of moby dick. its one of the most beautiful passages in literature, i’d say

  4. VaudeVillain | Nov 18, 2013 at 1:43 am |

    Fascinating and well-written article, at least what I was able to get through. It seems pretty accurate, as well.

  5. Nirvanasteve | Nov 18, 2013 at 3:12 am |

    If a friend wants to commit suicide, not just an emotional escape but because they’ve put some thought into it and decided this was what they wanted, should you try to stop them? This isn’t just a rhetorical question. I would really appreciate some advice.

    • I feel that the answer is yes. I feel that it is best to direct them to an expert who has the training to assist. There is the suicide hotline.




      1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
      Deaf Hotline

      The state numbers are listed at the suicide hotline website

    • Overpowering the will of another is always tricky business. Sometimes we do that out of love and damn the intricacies of philosophy. I suggest you focus on trying to understand them. Listening, asking questions, letting them know you will miss them.

      One of the hardest things for me to navigate has been the recognition that my life does not belong to me alone.

      • Nirvanasteve | Nov 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

        Thanks guys. Yeah, I’m really struggling with what you’re saying pneumerology, because part of me does have that philosophical view that it’s his right to choose what he does with his life (even if it’s to end it) and I don’t want my will to interfere with his. At the same time I don’t want him to die, ya know? I’ll just be honest about how I feel about it and keep taking him out for drinks and listening.

      • Overpowering anyone’s will is BS and your life does belong to you. You think otherwise because you have had your own will overpowered. Quit giving someone else control and snap out of it.

        • What I said was, “my life does not belong to me alone.”

          And you are telling me what to do right now… so who is full of BS?

          • You go on believing that. What a dirt bag.

          • Well, you know… you had a valid point. Codependency addresses what you were referring to. You just weren’t paying enough attention to grasp that I was talking about something else. You just dove in and started throwing shit around. Been guilty of that myself. You did contradict yourself pretty blatantly, though, and now you have resorted to name calling. Maybe you should lurk for a little while and get a better idea of what goes on here, before you make more of an ass of yourself.

          • Oh really? I resorted to name calling ? I do believe you called me a trash talker from the get-go and no I am not referring to codependency. You are just the chronic victim aren’t you; pathetic.

          • He didn’t call you a trash talker, he said you were “talking a little trash.” So yes, you resorted to name calling first.

          • So, accusing me of talking trash isn’t equivalent to being called a trash talker is that what you are saying? Then, go ahead and tell everybody the difference. Good Luck to all of you, well, except the obstinate pneumerology; You will need much more than luck!

          • Yes, having one’s trash talking called out isn’t identical to being called a trash talker. The difference is between name calling and criticism of behavior. Calling what you said trash is not equivalent to calling you a dirt bag, chronic victim, or pathetic.

          • You think your so smart don’t you? No, in essence, saying I’m talking trash is it the same, exact thing as calling me a trash talker and what I said was not trash. Pneumerology is a dirt bag for attacking me for stating my opinion, which he calls trash in case you didn’t notice, and he obviously is a chronic victim and is pathetic just like your attempts to turn me into some kind of bad person because you disagree with me. You and your friend simply cannot take any criticism and instead you have tried to pick me apart. I’ll stand by my original statement that attempting to overpower anyone’s will is BS and you can do it to yourselves all day long but you won’t do it to me. I’m done giving you my energy.

          • I think there has been some miscommunication through a misunderstanding. Well wishes for you.

  6. Conspiracy Carrot | Nov 18, 2013 at 7:57 am |

    Interesting read. I could really relate to step 5. The final paragraph really sums up, in part, why I haven’t made out with a shotgun; I’ll be dead soon enough and there’s a whole lot of cool shit out there I want to see before that happens. Besides, who knows what’s on the other side of this… maybe nothing at all.

  7. Escape from self when the experience of that self has become intolerable, particularly in the “feelings” experienced… so far so good.

    Research into PTSD adds that feeling “doomed” is often part of that experience… living in a situation, society, world, universe that seems to actively hate you and wishes only to torment and destroy you.

    It is not only a problem of the self. It is also a manifestation of the state of the world. Wave upon wave of greed, corruption, violence, environmental destruction, and the apparent indifference of others to suffering.

    PTSD research also indicates that a healthy and welcoming community can be very healing. Yet, the isolation and anonymity of modern society have made that sense of community hard to come by.

    Places like this (disinfo) and technology like this, make it possible to re-learn how to create community. A rocky road, for sure, but movement in the right direction.

  8. how is suicidal tendency egocentric? to say i have to live out of my concerns for other’s feelings, just means that they are being egocentric without a rationalization for that suicidal friend’s feelings…

    • because when you quit caring about the ego, there is no more desire or aversion, and therefore no need to think about killin oneself

    • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:02 am |

      It’s egocentric in that the ego’s ability to function is imploding. It’s like mirrors facing each other. As conceived in psychological thought, the ego (sense of self) is essentially the consciousnesses balancing/integrating between nature & nurture (which roughly corresponds to the outmoded concepts of id & superego). When the drives of the body and or society are overwhelming the minds ability to cope through the ego, the ego can become self-destructive / unable to reconcile it’s existence. Defense mechanisms collapse, cognitive functions are altered and the sense of self is essentially annihilated. It is an extremely agonizing process and though the ego can survive and be rebuilt many persons are attached enough (naturally) to their sense of self that this process is seen through to physical completion either to escape the pain or the emptiness.

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