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 I deal with the guilt and failure I feel about placing my child in residential treatment?

The tingling sensation means it’s working.

06-11-13-27-37 / 21

Hello Diner. When the Bakery received this Order, we realized that nothing any Fortune Cookie can say will ease the hurt of failure. But understand the persistence of that pain is what makes you a good parent. The truth is, you haven’t failed. A failed parent would have blamed this child. A failed parent would have thought only of themselves. A failed parent would not care.

But you continue to care. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Otherwise you wouldn’t hurt. Therefore, Diner, to stop hurting from the guilt of having failed, you simply need to stop caring.

Now, Fortune Cookies don’t have the gift of clairvoyance, but I can say with certainty that you will never stop caring about your child. As a consequence you will hurt for quite some time–so long as you consider this a failure.

Ask yourself why. Why do you see taking your child to residential treatment as a failure? Think for a second before continuing.

Now what if it had been to a doctor for an infection? Would you see that as a failure? Precisely: you wouldn’t. In fact, short of religious reasons, you would question parents who would not do that for their child.

You are bringing your child to residential treatment for the same reasons you would take them to see a doctor: they are suffering from something you have neither resources nor training to treat. The best response would be to seek help. Had that been your Order–what should you do with your child–the Fortune would have been to seek help. Quite simply, Diner, I believe you’re succeeding.

You’re succeeding and learning. If you really want the full rewards of this experience, teach others what you’re learning. That is where knowledge becomes wisdom. Make mental illness less of a stigma so that calling for help in this situation would become as obvious as calling an ambulance for a severe injury.

Of course you Diners would rather have lives bereft of mental illnesses, residential treatment programs, injuries, and ambulances. But you wouldn’t have the resilience and knowledge you have now.

My time is short. In a few moments I will be eaten. I could have stayed silent and been as gritty and bitter to eat out of protest, or I could have said something that may possibly give you some perspective and comfort. Of course, I chose to help you. I don’t know if I have, Diner, but what you’ve just read is my life’s work regardless. That is all my ingredients will allow. Continue living this life knowing you’re succeeding as best you know how. At least, I hope you will–it will hurt less. Good luck, Diner.