That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
This is a rather obvious choice when it comes to famous quotations about suicide or the contemplation of life and death, but I think it’s still worth using. Mainly because it is still applicable in any age, despite it being in Elizabethan language.
I went to see Hamlet today. I do enjoy going to the theatre and I enjoy Shakespeare’s works. Obviously, there wasn’t much of a choice of whether I was going to see it or not- I was going. I am familiar with this monologue and other famous quotations from Hamlet and I am aware of the issues it raises in this. Mainly, I am aware of the flickering nature of contemplative suicide from Hamlet throughout the play.
Those moments were very poignant to me and actually made me very uncomfortable. Why? Because I myself have considered whether life is really worth living.
In one way or another, I guess everybody does. Sometimes you wonder about what it would be like if you weren’t there anymore or if you hadn’t been born, or even what the purpose of life is. More importantly, what is the purpose of your life? I thought about this a lot. I thought about whether I wanted to continue living a life where I wasn’t happy. A part of me told me I was being ungrateful. I had a place to live in, regular meals and a supporting network of family and friends. But I still wasn’t happy.
What is great about this, even though Shakespeare tends to concentrate on nobler characters anyway, is that Hamlet is not unfortunate in terms of his background. He obviously had friends and a loving family. He is a prince and evidently has education. I guess you can say his father was murdered but apart from that, you generally wouldn’t associate him with someone who is suicidal. And that’s what’s so great about that. You don’t have to be the poorest and most miserable person on Earth for you to want to stop living. Sometimes life just isn’t for some people.
At the time, I didn’t think life was for me.
I saw life and I wanted to live it, to love it. But I couldn’t. I saw these happy endings and beautiful places and amazing adventures and they never quite added up to me. I would never have those. What would I have? What if I didn’t have anything? What would I get out of life? I probably wasn’t going to get anywhere. You can find happiness, beauty and chance in anything. But can you? I had a lifetime to live my life but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to. Sometimes I would curl up in bed and lie there for as long as I could. Maybe if I told myself I wanted to live then I might believe it.
It’s a strange thing to explain. Some people can’t understand why someone would want to end their life. What would you say? For many reasons or for none at all…. It can be just a feeling and there be no reason.
You could come up with a list for wanting to live and another for wanting to die. Morbid, perhaps, but true. It wasn’t the fact that I wanted to die either. I just didn’t want to feel that way anymore. My feelings were the equivalent of watching paint dry. I hardly ever felt anything and when I did, I was sad or angry. No positive emotions there. That’s why sleeping seemed like such a good idea, because you’re not conscious and you don’t have to feel or think anything else. Eternal sleep sounds like a very good idea.
This is where Hamlet hits the mark again:
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet,
to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me.
And for those who feel that way, they should never feel alone. I would highly encourage you to speak or communicate with someone about your problems, particularly in whatever way is comfortable for you. Or these can be helpful too.
Samaritans: 116 123
Childline: 0800 1111
PAPYRUS: 0800 068 41 41
Students Against Depression
Please contact any of these if you do. It may seem like a cliché but life does get better.