Suicide

I would say of suicide not that it is always a tragedy for the person who dies, but that it always comes too soon and too suddenly for those left behind. Those who condemn the right to die are committing a grave disservice. We all want more control over life than we have, and dictating the terms of other people’s lives makes us feel safe. That is no reason to forbid people their most primitive freedom. Nonetheless, I believe that those who, in supporting the right to die, distinguish some suicides absolutely from others are telling a lie to accomplish a political objective. It is up to each man to set limits to his own tortures. Fortunately, the limits most people set for themselves are high. Nietzsche once said that the thought of suicide keeps many men alive in the darkest part of the night, and I would say that the more fully one comes to terms with the idea of rational suicide, the safer one will be from irrational suicide. Knowing that if I get through this minute I could always kill myself in the next one makes it possible to get through this minute without being utterly overwhelmed. Suicidality may be a symptom of depression; it is also a mitigating factor. The thought of suicide makes it possible to get through depression. I expect that I’ll go on living so long as I can give or receive anything better than pain, but I do not promise that I will never kill myself. Nothing horrifies me more than the thought that I might at some stage lose the capacity for suicide.

— Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon

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