David Brooks, an opinion writer for the New York Times, wrote a piece about Suicide a few days ago. In it he provided some interesting statistics — one such was most interesting. It is about people who were rescued from committing suicide from the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
A 1978 study tracked down 515 people who were stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Decades later, Hecht writes, ‘Suicide is not an ongoing state. If one is prevented from engaging in it, more often than not by a sort of destiny, you will go on to live out your life.”
At end of the piece he says “as our friend Nietzsche observed, “he who has a why to live for can withstand any how.”
To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.
The sages like Nietzsche express a wisdom. The wisdom is not that of telling one how he gets out of the clutch of despair. The wisdom is to see the opposite of a life’s energy being turned back upon oneself. When energy is turned to attachment of a purpose, a meaning, a creation, or a knowledge perhaps that suffering is not to be regarded as wrong but instead as meaningful in that the suffering is the phenomenon of a life in conflict with conditions. The way out of despair is not a prescription for some actions, which would make one happy in life. The way out of despair is to observe the conditions of one’s life and become stoic or accepting.
In a way, the person who accepts the condition of suffering is on his way to understanding the human condition. There really is no antidote.
I know some who are always in a state of some kind in which suffering is denied. William James called such people healthy-minded. I have found those who are this condition have unconsciously subscribed to one or a combination of protective traits, which create the illusion that one’s self is secure, happy. People go through their entire lives blessed by this or that defensive trait. To gain an idea of what one might be doing would be to read Anna Freud’s, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense.
Another approach might be to change the chemistry of one’s brain with various medicines which make the brain function better. Today, most psychiatrists do their work by prescribing one or more drugs which make the brain work differently or “better.” Many of these fall under the category of “reuptake inhibitors”
“also known as a transporter blocker, is a drug that inhibits the plasmalemmal transporter-mediated reuptake of a neurotransmitter from the synapse into the pre-synaptic neuron, leading to an increase in the extracellular concentrations . . . “
The drugs do something, but one wonders whether what is done is in the end a little like seeking relief by the use of alcohol, marijuana, opium, hashish, and so on . . . .
The way out of depression, any sort of depression, is to become an observer of the life of the self. Forget about trying to change. Be utterly conscious of one’s self. Listen, watch, wait. Trust, the answer is within you.
In a fine book recently published written by a young Washington State writer the story of a young girl and an older woman is telling. The older woman sees the girl in a state of emotional pain, the girl, Angeline, wants to know why, wants to know how to live, what the answer is. The woman feels the girl’s pain. But she does not provide an answer, she knows the girl will have to find her own way and that will mean for her that she will become inured to her being living out a life which is her own life, a project of sorts, of her being in the world. The book is the Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin.
The living out of a life is to know that one’s energy must attach to something outside of one’s self. If it does not, it will turn back upon oneself and if it does, the energy will be used to destroy rather than to create. The process cannot be something of a prescription. It can only be, that which is. Best to let it run its course. Best to trust oneself, and in that way, find the why of one’s life.