Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression

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Suicide is one of the topics that are often discussed in clichés in an attempt to avoid an insensitivity or in a nonetheless pointless endeavor of grasping what makes people take their own lives. However, to confront the problem of suicide and understand what drives people to end their own lives, discussion is not merely necessary but ultimately inevitable. Art and literature have been so far the niches that have allowed dissecting the issue of suicide without major social reprimand toward the authors. As a result, literature and art pieces provide a unique opportunity to take a glance at the psychological and emotional conditions of suicide and depression.

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The “Incant against Suicide” by Mary Karr is, perhaps, the most nuanced portrayal of the psychological and emotional state of someone experiencing suicidal ideas and depression. The poem renders the psychological issues faced by an individual with suicidal thoughts flawlessly with a single line: “Your head’s a bad neighborhood” (Karr). Karr details with incredible precision the psychological state of someone experiencing suicidal ideas. Namely, the idea of one’s mind being the source of disturbing thoughts and the tendency toward self-destruction is depicted flawlessly with only a handful of words, which signifies a truly incredible ability and high level of mastery, particularly, in using metaphors and, in the quote above, metonymy. However, in addition to the grim description of the emotional and psychological state in which people with suicidal ideation remain throughout their entire lives, Karr also points to the source of relief for someone struggling with the idea of suicide: “even if spiders fall from your open mouth. This talk’s their only exit” (Karr). Thus, the author points to the role of communication as the first step toward exploring the opportunity to heal emotionally and psychologically.

Flynn’s “Philip Seymour Hoffman,” in turn, is charged with intense emotions and expressivity. Despite the fact that the tone of the narration seems calm and composed on the surface, it rings with despair and the sense of being lost: “Last summer I found a small box stashed away in my apartment, a box filled with enough Vicodin to kill me” (Flynn). Moreover, the poem reiterates the crucial message that the previous artwork establishes as the foundational problem in suicide prevention. Namely, the perception of suicidal ideation as the feeling of sadness that will eventually fade away as long as the correct medication is administered is rendered entirely erroneous in the narration. The specified myth is subverted both with the help of the calm yet desperate tone, as well as the sense of hopelessness that a suicidal person experiences. The sense of being locked in a perpetual cycle that cannot possibly be disrupted and the resulting depression are reflected flawlessly in the poem, painting a very grim yet incredibly detailed and nuanced picture of the state in which Hoffman and, by extension, any suicidal or self-destructive person, found themselves.

Another opportunity of looking into the mind of a suicidal person, is the article by Peggy Wehmeyer as she guides the reader through the tragic story of her husband’s suicide. The author provides a retrospective analysis of the emotional and psychological condition in which her husband was at the time of the suicide (Wehmeyer). However, similarly to other people that have witnessed the suicide of their family members, she reiterates the idea that embracing a suicidal mind is impossible for a side observer. The specified statement is made indirectly, through a vignette of ideas that culminate in “How is it I could persuade the man I loved to apply sunscreen, get regular checkups and wear a bike helmet, all in an effort to prolong our life together, but I couldn’t keep him from killing himself?” (Wehmeyer). The described piece is particularly interesting to read since, apart from recounting the events that led to the tragic death, it also describes the experience of someone who has to live with the consequences of a partner’s suicide. The unceasing feeling of guilt gnawing on a widow’s mind and the question of what has been done wrong, which will never be answered, provides the backdrop of the psychological and emotional state of someone witnessing a significant other’s suicide.

Although the article by Wehmeyer provides a slightly different perspective and offers the revelations of the widow who tries to come to grasp the idea of her beloved husband’s death, it also gives a rather clear idea of the necessity to treat the psychological and emotional conditions of suicide and depression as a part of a person’s mindset. Thus, the author confirms that suicidal thinking and depression cannot magically disappear with a sufficient amount of love and care; instead, they need to be treated as serious medical conditions and managed as such. What adds especial bitterness and poignancy to the essay is the writing style, which actively uses literary devices such as epithets, for instance, “foggy depression,” yet manages to stay simple and honest (Wehmeyer). As a result, the reader connects with the message that the author conveys almost immediately, following her tragic journey and empathizing with her loss, as well as her husband’s depression.

Finally, “Trouble” by Matthew Dickman deserves to be studied as a decent attempt at dissecting the issue of suicide. Mentioning the instances of suicide that shook the entire world, including the ones of Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Adams, and Kathy Change, to name just a few, the author drives the reader’s attention to the tragedy and its enigma. Although the poem might seem merely as an attempt at recounting all cases of a celebrity suicide, it delves into a much more philosophically charged territory by implying the question of what linked these deaths:

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Sarah Kane hanged herself, Harold Pinter brought her roses when she was still alive, and Louis Lingg, the German anarchist, lit a cap of dynamite in his own mouth though it took six hours for him to die, 1887. Ludwig II of Bavaria drowned and so did Hart Crane, John Berryman, and Virginia Woolf. (Dickman)

The presence of deep, long-lasting depression and haunting psychological trauma come to the reader’s mind when considering the poem closer. Thus, Dickman uses the literary device known as repetition, and, even though he does so implicitly, this approach works. The list of dry facts of people’s deaths ends with the life-affirming “I want to be good to myself,” suggesting that the change from self-harm to self-love is required to abandon suicidal ideation (Dickman).

By describing suicidal ideation as a condition that remains an inherent part of one’s psychological and emotional nature, the authors of the art pieces mentioned above assert that the intention to end one’s own life is the urge that an individual has to fight throughout the entirety of one’s life. Although each of the works mentioned above represents a unique viewpoint on the issue of suicidal thoughts, all of them share the same idea of having the inclination to commit suicide as a response to the combination of unbearable internal and external pressure. Thus, all of the art pieces above provide a unique way of both approaching a suicidal person and fighting the specified issue personally. Namely, the authors promote understanding and careful listening as the basis for establishing the attitude that will allow one to combat the specified intent, whether independently, or with an existing support system.

Works Cited

Dickman, Matthew. “Trouble.” The New Yorker, 2008, Web.

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Flynn, Nick. “Philip Seymour Hoffman.” PoetryFoundation.org, 2015, Web.

Karr, Mary. “Incant Against Suicide.” Tiumblr.com, 2014, Web.

Wehmeyer, Peggy. “What Lies in Suicide’s Wake.” The New York Times, 2019, Web.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 21). Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/psychological-and-emotional-conditions-of-suicide-and-depression/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 21). Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression. https://psychologywriting.com/psychological-and-emotional-conditions-of-suicide-and-depression/

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"Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression." PsychologyWriting, 21 June 2022, psychologywriting.com/psychological-and-emotional-conditions-of-suicide-and-depression/.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression'. 21 June.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression." June 21, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/psychological-and-emotional-conditions-of-suicide-and-depression/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression." June 21, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/psychological-and-emotional-conditions-of-suicide-and-depression/.


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PsychologyWriting. "Psychological and Emotional Conditions of Suicide and Depression." June 21, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/psychological-and-emotional-conditions-of-suicide-and-depression/.