Anne Sexton: Why commit suicide?

Sometimes people’s lives become so complex they’d rather be dead.

They seek death through suicide to make the complexity go away. Because complexity causes suffering.

If you’re hit by three or four catastrophes at the same time - maybe you’re husband leaves you, you lose your publishing contract, someone you love dies, and maybe you get cancer - you might just think there’s no getting out of this. It’s just too damn much.

People don’t go to a psychologist or psychiatrist because they have mental illnesses. That’s rarely true.

People seek help because their lives are so damn complicated they cannot stay on top of them. It’s the complexity of life that causes the symptoms.

Take a balloon and blow it up until it’s beyond its tolerance and it’s going to blow out at the weakest point. Take a genetic susceptibility, keep adding complexity on top of it and at some point you’ll blow out at your weakest point.

Maybe you’ll get physiologically ill, maybe you’ll start drinking, maybe you’ll develop an anxiety disorder, maybe you’ll get OCD, maybe you’ll get depressed. There’ll be something that’s the weakest point, where you’ll blow out.

Mental illness is not the cause. Mental illness is the symptom of too much pressure, of being hammered two or three different ways.

And then collapsing in the direction of a biological weakness.

Older note Newer note