“I addressed the reader with a bold imperative: ‘So I want to say this, and forgive me for the strangeness of it. Don’t kill yourself. Life has always been almost too hard to bear, for a lot of the people, a lot of the time. It’s awful. But it isn’t too hard to bear, it’s only almost too hard to bear.’ In the West, I wrote, the dominant religions had told people suicide was against the rules, they must not do it; if they did they would be punished in the afterlife. ‘People killed themselves anyway, of course, but the strict injunction must have helped keep a billion moments of anguish from turning into calamity.  These days we encourage people to stay alive and not kill themselves, but we say it for the person’s own sake… ‘ I announced: ‘I’m issuing a rule. You are not allowed to kill yourself. When a person kills himself, he does wrenching damage to the community. One of the best predictors of suicide is knowing a suicide. That means that suicide is also delayed homicide. You have to stay.’

I told my readers that I was grateful to everyone who remained alive… I imagined these men and women on the edge of doing what she had done, and I knew many other people unknown to me were struggling. I hoped that they might read my plea, heed my plea… I claimed that some part of them doesn’t want to end it all, and said to that part, “I’m throwing you a rope, you don’t have to explain it to the monster in you, just tell the monster it can do whatever it wants, but not that. Later we’ll get rid of the monster, for now just hang on to the rope. I know that this means a struggle from one second to the next, let alone one day at a time.’ I said, ‘Sobbing and useless is great! Sobbing and useless is a million times better than dead. A billion times.  Thank you for choosing sobbing and useless over dead.’ The essay ended: ‘Don’t kill yourself. Suffer here with us instead. We need you with us, we have not forgotten you, you are our hero.  Stay.'”

Jennifer Michael Hecht