Why Suicide Plagues the Human Species
What does it feel like to want to kill yourself?
Despite the prevalence of suicide in the developed world, this question is one that most of us fail to ask. On hearing news of a suicide we are devastated, sad – but overwhelmingly we feel disbelief. We distance ourselves by assuring ourselves it’s the final act of a mentally ill ‘other'.
Yet six months after emerging from a serious bout of depression, research psychologist Jesse Bering found himself wanting to peer more deeply into his mind at its lowest moment of despair. The result was a post on his online column at Scientific American, titled 'What It Feels Like to Want to Kill Yourself’. Through the lens of his own experience Bering examined the suicidal mindset from the inside out, drawing on Roy Baumeister’s six-step 'escape from self' theory of suicide and raising awareness of this model of a systematic path down which the suicidal mind wanders before reaching its final, irreversible goal.
The response was extraordinary. The article generated more emails and personal testimonials than anything Bering had written before – or has written since – and six years later, these letters continue to come in.
Without Me is the result. This provocative, important book expands substantially on Bering’s original column to address the natural history of suicide, its evolutionary inheritance, our contradictory superstitions about the act, and its social aspect, among other topics. And as the response to the article shows, there is clearly a large readership hungering for such a book: a personal, accessible, yet scientifically sound examination of the suicidal mind.