Understanding Suicide: You Can't.

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Sept. 23 2010 9:33 PM

Understanding Suicide: You Can't.

A guest post from Chris Morgan, editor of Biopsy , in response to Zoe FitzGerald Carter's post on the recent suicide of Wesleyan student Nora Miller:

The problem I have with Carter’s post is a problem that has been glossed over for far too long in regards to self-killing. It’s that we can somehow understand why it is that some people chose to kill themselves and then act on it. Carter speculates that Miller's success as a student was somehow a factor in her death, that she endured pressure to achieve the bright future that she was expected to have and at some point resolved to kill herself seeing little other option. True enough many of us feel a certain amount of anxiety when faced with the prospect of success, as well as the prospect of failure, and for some reason we're all expected to have bright futures ahead of us, just because. These feelings sometimes eat away at us, causing self-doubt and depression, or enabling a depression that has always been present. Few of us, however, have even considered self-immolation.

I don't know why Nora Miller killed herself, let alone in so extreme and painful a fashion. As someone who suffers from depression all I can really say is that it is like being in a vast, cold wilderness, without nourishment, company, or direction; and to some, suicide is the clearing in that wilderness when they finally see the sun, yet it is so blinding that they can't see anything or anyone else around them and nothing ahead of them. They are so desperate to be in the clearing that they just go.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones