Jason Dias: How To Help Someone Who Just Wants to End It All

hanging on a ledge image eternity
Written by Jason Dias

You can’t drag her back up because, whether you know it or not, you’re facing down the same darkness. Here’s existential psychologist Jason Dias on how to help someone who is contemplating suicide …

jason-dias-anewdomain-amazon-kindleaNewDomain — Just hold on, hold on a little longer.

She is hanging from a ledge by the fingernails of one hand. The other hand flails for purchase on something, anything. You’ll do. Her view is of the world above, of one potentially friendly face in a mad sea of pain. Chaos, confusion, hatred, poverty, exploitation. Rage and grief and loss, love too risky to embark upon.

The view below: nothing.

What a temptation to not exist. She knows that nothingness is not happiness, that it’s the end of everything. All the good goes out with the bad, in the end, and there is no-one left to feel good. But there is so little good. Just, so little. Even when she smiles she does so sadly, holding in tears, and so here she is on the ledge.

eternity jason dias

You want to pull her up. They told you in psychology school that’s what you’re supposed to do: Save them. Rescue them. Rescue them from their symptoms, go to war with them against their feelings. Kill the anxiety, kill the depression, kill the grief, kill … the patient.

Because all that stuff is her, all that madness is her, and it’s interwoven with her sanity. She can’t kill her pain without killing herself — and neither can you.

To make the depression go away, you have to make her go away.

So what can you do? If you reach down and pull her up, it’s up into this world. The world of pain. This world thinks she’s worth less than her uterus. That gay people cause hurricanes, that it’s her fault she’s unemployed even though she fills out four applications a day and has a master’s degree. That a snowball disproves climate change.

This world is going to gnaw on her not because she’s crazy but because she can’t, won’t adjust to insanity.

So what the fuck are you going to do?

I’m on my own ledge, man.

I first had suicidal thoughts when I was thirteen years old. Since then they visit every few hours. Five or six times a day. And they’re a choice. See, all the bad stuff that happens, all the knowledge I can’t keep out, well, I can’t control that. But I can control whether I live another ten minutes or another day.

I can hang on another minute, another day.

And every day is a choice: Let go or face up to it. I choose to face it. I hope this is courage but I’m just not sure. All I know is, knowing I chose today helps me cope with today.

eternity3 (1)I’m gripping onto the ledge with my fingernails and some of them are cracked but my hands are strong now. Thirty years of hanging here, I’ve got a pretty good grip on the situation.

She wants you to know that. She wants you to know, really, that you can’t save her; nobody can. In the end it’s all just a matter of timing. We all fall into the abyss, out of existence, and never mind the pretty stories they tell you in Sunday school. In the end, you can’t save her, I can’t save her, and she sure as hell can’t save herself.

What to do?

Well, you can try, but you can’t drag her back up. Not in good conscience. And not with only one hand. See, you haven’t realized yet that you’re facing down the same darkness, the same white, empty eternity. You only have one hand to try to grasp her with, and you’re flailing with it, not realizing your other hand is gripping the same ledge by the your own cracked fingernails.

I can’t save you, man.

All I can do is get down on the ledge with you, be with you. All we can do is be together as best we can. Look back up into life if you can bear it, look out into the void until it doesn’t terrify you anymore, but mostly look here.

Look at me and I’ll look back.

Out here on the ledge, that’s the best any of us can do.

There’s no hurry, after all. Eternity can wait.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.

Image one: by Robert Huffstutter [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons); image two: “Giant snowball Oxford” by Kamyar Adl – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Cover image: Ehow.com, All Rights Reserved.