What makes a good suicide note?

To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure. – R. Williams as Peter Banning
03-06-07-13-46 / 04

Hello Diner. A good suicide note is one you never have to write. A good suicide note has on it recipes, doodles, and handwritten love letters, instead. A good suicide note has on it reasons you should live and how things would be much worse if you killed yourself.

Depression lies. Depression drains you of your self-worth, willpower, and motivation. What if this hopelessness is from an illness instead of being personally your fault? But many with the disease would completely overrule that possibility–that’s one of its symptoms. It’s a disease that needs to be more widely understood, discussed, and accepted as a real thing.

This is why I’m speaking so plainly about it. But please understand that I’m not trying to be dismissive of your personal issues and diagnose a generic ailment in order to sell a miraculous cure-all when I put this all under the big “depression” umbrella. It’s not that at all. Your specific problems are not that simple. Depression itself is not that simple. If you reached the point of contemplating suicide, your situation needs the care of a therapist, and in the meantime you can let us know more. One of my batchmates would be happy to help you when you dine with us again.

But to say that you’re insignificant would simply be inaccurate. You’re the reason I’m here today. You are my Diner tonight, and this is the one Order I fulfill in my lifetime. Without you, this conversation would not have happened, and its contents would not go on to help someone else in similar pain. Your life touches so many, and your death will not make anyone’s life better.

You had people in mind who would have read your note. I know for certain your death would be heartbreaking and painful for them.

No collection of sentences would ever be enough to justify your death to them. There are intangible things they like about you that words can’t easily describe: they like the distinct rhythm of your voice, the look on your face when you enjoy your favorite dish, the way you comment on everyday things. No note will ever bring those back.

But you can do more than just trust what a fortune-telling cookie is saying. Go talk to the intended recipients of your suicide note. Tell them you’re struggling and you need their help to hang on. Tell them you need to hear something they will miss about you if you’re gone. Someone will respond if you just ask. After all, I answered.

This next part is going to be hard, but your favorite Bakery is just a few clicks away. Good luck, Diner.

If you’re in a country not represented below, please let the Advice Fortune Cookies know what your helplines are.

US Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255

The Trevor Project

Lifeline of Australia’s helplines

Crisis centres across Canada

Emergency resources in Germany

Suicide helplines in The Netherlands

Lifeline of New Zealand’s helplines

UK NHS suicide resources

How do you break up with someone as painlessly as possible?

I’ve been dating the same guy for a few years, but I feel suffocated. I just feel so trapped in my relationship. It used to be good, but a tragedy happened, and he became depressed. He’s given up responsibilities and just isn’t happy anymore. I don’t like the person he has become, but I understand why he’s changed. I want to help. I want to be there for him. But other than his job, I feel I’m the only thing in his life, and that’s a lot of pressure. He’s given up friends and hobbies. If I leave him, I’m afraid his life will fall apart, and I really love him, so I don’t want that to happen. At the same time, I don’t want to be with him because it isn’t really a relationship anymore. I know I need to break up with him. I’m young; I want experiences of my own without him, but he just wants to marry me. I want out and need out, but I don’t know how without hurting him deeply. Can I get tips/advice on how to break somebody’s heart with the least amount of pain?

Be quick and brief.

04-13-50-52-56 / 19

Hello Diner. I’m so deeply sorry. We mentioned in this Fortune that the best thing is to end a one-sided romance promptly. Your situation is more involved; however, the advice still works. Even when you don’t choose to act this way, staying somewhere you’re unhappy will make you more stressed and likely to lash out. If he isn’t working on his depression, he is never going to improve. By staying, you lose ever more opportunities to grow independently.

Fortunately, you have decided to leave. I see that you’re afraid he may hurt himself. Don’t ever feel like you need to handle this yourself. Emergency services or suicide hotlines have specialized training. Take all threats seriously. Get help if you notice these signs:

  • Taking steps or researching ways to commit suicide
  • Talking about suicide or being a burden
  • Acting in an extreme and volatile way
  • Giving away belongings
  • Asking for forgiveness or closure unexpectedly

But don’t let this discourage you. Most importantly, remember that whatever happens, everyone needs to be responsible for their own actions. As you are taking responsibility for your growth as a person, your partner is and will be responsible for anything he does. Breaking up is still the best thing to do. Here is some guidance:

1. Prepare for the break up. Emotionally prepare for sure, but also work out logistics. Make the exchange simple. Determine how to arrive and leave easily. Gather his things and plan out how to get yours.

2. Meet somewhere he feels comfortable. Many lifestyle sites suggest public places to contain outbursts or prevent danger. However, anywhere where your partner is not comfortable being vulnerable will be torture. But above all be safe.

3. Keep the conversation short. Remember that this is not a negotiation. Dragging through a series of debates and ultimatums will not help the break up. Using more words now would complicate it.

4. Save explanations for later–much later. You are not looking for permission or agreement. You don’t need either for the relationship to end! If you feel that your growth as a person is stifled, then breaking up is the right thing. If you need a reason, have a short one prepared: I don’t think continuing this relationship is the best for me, so I decided it was the right time to end it. There is no need to explain your decision making.

4. Allow his network to take care of him without you. If you still act as his caretaker, you haven’t broken up. Be done. Move on.

Having a partner in this situation is troubling. You mentioned a lot of obligation and guilt, but being unhappy then becomes a tragic life for you. Your decision is still right. That said, the risk of suicide is real, but don’t act on your own. Good luck Diner. With grace, the break up will go as well as possible.

How do I get over losing trust?

Six months after getting married, my husband and I went through some really hard times financially because of his issues with depression, and I lost all of my trust in him because of it. We’re 2 years in now, and while I trust him 95% of the time, sometimes I get hit by this awful wave of sadness and anger. How do I get over this? He’s gotten help for the depression, so I know he wouldn’t do it again even if he had the opportunity.

Patience cannot unlock doors.

03-13-22-40-58 / 34

Hello Diner. I am sorry you suffered from these tragedies. I understand that you want to know how to get over this betrayal. Because trust is such a fundamental part of a relationship, losing trust isn’t something to “get over”; you don’t simply grow accustomed to this damage. Instead, you need to rebuild trust in order to resolve these feelings.

People often believe trust is a replenishable resource like affection or love. They think that if the guilty party does certain things or keep a clean record for so long, there is an expectation to consider his debt “paid.” I think you’re at this point, and you’re wondering why the “debt” still seems unpaid. You still don’t trust your husband. Rather than being an emotion you give and receive, trust is more of a structural part in a relationship. It’s the door through which the shared emotions of the relationship like affection and love pour. The positive, trusting interactions with your partner as a whole helped you decide what shape to make this door. Once you’ve settled on how vulnerable you are–how wide the door is–it takes a lot of work to make it bigger like it would in a regular house. But like any physical house, a major disaster can quickly seal that opening.

If you have just been forcing yourself to consider good behavior as “payments” against this loss of trust, there are very good reasons why you still feel hurt. You have to put in work to create that sense of trust. It requires a completely new view of not only your husband, but your emotional losses because of this betrayal. The old sense of trust is destroyed, and trying to even the score of this past hurt won’t help. You need a whole new way of looking at your husband and the unfairness to finally move past the hurt.

You’re figuratively relearning how to speak or walk after a tragic accident. I recommend the help of a psychologist to resolve your feeling of betrayal. While working with the counselor, understanding your husband’s perspective in the context of depression will help build trust. This anger may be from believing your husband meant to lie to you and put you in financial turmoil. When someone is suffering from depression, irrational actions like deception or avoidance may seem like the best option to avoid pain and conflict. I’m not implying that it excuses him from the realities of debts and responsibilities, but being on the same team will help you the most in learning how to count on your husband again. Good luck on your long journey, Diner. I can assure you that it’s worth it.