I found myself wondering about suicide again this past weekend.
I was walking across the RFK bridge from Randall’s Island to Queens and for about half a mile, the barrier between my body and the edge of the bridge was just above my hips.
That’s when I realized- there is pretty much nothing stopping someone from jumping off if that’s what they wanted.
My entire body tingled with fear and I felt a moment of shock with just a glance down to the river about 150 feet below. I experienced a visceral fear of dying.
That’s when I fully empathized on a whole body level just how miserable someone must feel when they decide to end their lives, especially in extremely painful ways- jumping from heights, walking into traffic, by hanging, etc.
I felt sad and desperate for anyone who has ever had this state of mind. As depressed as I’d ever been in my life, I had never contemplated such a horrible death.
I recently created a podcast episode about suicide, where I question how anybody could want to die when it is our human biological need to live and survive.
How could anyone plan their own death?
How could anyone’s mind and body become so neurobiologically dysfunctional that suicide is the only answer?
Why does anyone become so depressed, isolated, and unable to experience pleasure if we evolved as social, pleasure-seeking creatures?
I try to answer these questions in my podcast but I’m curious about what others think. Does anyone else wonder about these things?
When I browsed the news the very next day, I read about the incident about the man who ran into the fire at Burning Man. The questions above pressed me more than ever before. Dying by fire is one of my biggest fears and I imagine that I would do anything I could to avoid it.
I was heart-broken reading the cold-hearted comments on social media in response to this tragedy. There seems to be so much misunderstanding and resentment towards suicide. I understand that it brings up all sorts of triggering feelings for us, but there’s value in looking at this phenomenon objectively and then empathizing with even our own ability to feel this miserable at any point in our lives.
If you’re willing to take a scientific, objective view with me, please listen to my episode here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic- feel free to message me or leave a comment below.