Why Continue to Exist?

Important notice: This article deals with a very sensitive subject. If you consider any form of self harm or even suicide, please contact your local suicide prevention hotline!

Jane's backpack

Jane is running through the forest, crying. She has a little backpack with her. In her backpack she has a knife, a book and a flashlight. She is 15 years old and still afraid of the dark. In fact she is afraid of everything - most of all she is afraid of death, of dying like her Mom died. Dying at a point in life, when dying is the last thing she would want. Leaving a child behind. Dying in pain. Wanting to breathe. Not able to breathe. Jane will not die like that. Sitting down by her lake, she puts the knife to her wrist and starts cutting into her flesh. Damn, that really hurts! Tears keep rolling down her cheeks but she continues to cut. Blood trickles down her arm and it gives her strength to continue despite the pain.

Jane doesn't die right then. A friend comes looking for her, a friend who knows that lake. Her friend takes her home and Jane's father drives her to a doctor. She'll have a little scar to remind her of this feeling of fear and despair for the rest of her life. But she will live. And some day she will die. Maybe in an accident, maybe from an incurable illness, maybe in her sleep as a grandma. We don't really know yet.

Death will find you, it finds everybody.

Some people are alone and some have family. Some have family yet are still alone.

Of course, there are other reasons why people decide to end their own lives. Some people are clinically depressed, some have reached a point in their life, where they don't see a way out of their misery. Some people are alone and some have family. Some have family yet are still alone. All these people have in common that they find death and the thought of leaving their loved ones behind to mourn them more tolerable than to go on living another day which they expect to be as painful as the previous days.

One french philosopher's view on suicide and life's absurdity

The signs say: »Think of your parents and your children, your relatives and your friends.«

For Albert Camus the question of suicide was the one and single most important philosophical question. His answer was that by committing suicide one would lose to the absurdity. Only by facing the absurdity that life is, can we master it.

An illustration of this absurdity is the so called Suicide Forest at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan. In the following film there is a part where they show a sign put up in the forest to prevent suicides.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FDSdg09df8

The sign says: "Think of your parents and your children, your relatives and your friends." The people putting up the sign want to prevent suicides. They reinforce the relevance of structures that naturally should be the most relevant to the person in mental distress. The reasoning is, that if a structure feels relevant to me, I will not want to weaken it by abandoning it.

What do you think? Is pointing out relevant structures (family, friends, workplace, community) to a person contemplating self-harm the right thing to do?

Let us repeat this important notice: If you consider any form of self harm or even suicide, please contact your local suicide prevention hotline.