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

-David Foster Wallace

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5 Responses Feb 13, 2010

suicide is not answer it is the end you have a start in the story then an ending with suicide you only have an ending so no story and start so suicide must be wrong you get sick so you get treatment then you get better but some treatment may take more time with suicide there is no more time you may find the treatment may be wrong so you tell the doctor so he will look at it again my brother and my sister both done suicide so i think that i should know what i am talking about it does not work and for those that have a family it hurts them more that is why suicide is allway's wrong.

Jesus, you have just described how I feel. The flames of guilt and hurt and pain are lapping at my back. Should I jump, or wait for the flames to subside.<br />
I live within sight of the world trade center in NYC and watched in horror on 9/11 as people jumped from the 80th floor. I didn't stop crying in terror for weeks. I understood their decision and certainly don't think ill of them. My tears were more for myself as I felt the "heat" of my own terrors forcing me ever closer to the precipice. What will I do if the pain of living seems more than the pain of dying? I will jump of course. I am so close to that eventuality that I have a plan in mind just in case. I would offer specifics but the last time I did that on EP (under a different user name) someone offered to "help" me end it all. Thanks for understanding.

That was very interesting. Thank you for sharing that.

Wow, You just captured the mind set of a sane person and an insane person at the same time.<br />
That is a great description. The question is, what are you least scared of. Staying on the edge, or jumping off?<br />
Sometimes it is very hard to suck it up and stay on that edge. If you can just hold on for a little wile you might be alright.

From my own experience many years ago with depression..anxiety and panic attacks..the thoughts of suicide was more appealing than the constant everyday pain that I was in and feeling.<br />
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A pain that seemed to have no end and death seemed to be the only escape.<br />
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The only thing is..I may have been too afraid to live but I was even more afraid to die.I knew that dead was forever and the clock could never be turned back.