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  • Drew Conrad

Suicide and the Will to Survive (Part 1)

What does it mean to be suicidal? To go against our incredible instinct to survive? What pain could be so great that to stop one’s own heart from beating seems the best choice? I lived with such feelings for many, many years. It was unbearable. Daily hell. One I just couldn’t quite put into words – well, scratch that – I wrote about it in many songs. But anyway… As a teen, I had once read that Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) as a way of helping him to not actually end his own life. Of course, I went out and bought the book (confession – I might have stolen it), desperate to connect with anyone who might share my disgust for life, my hatred for the ugliness and cruelty I saw in people each and every day. “I’m not cruel to others”, I would say to myself. “I feel absolutely worthless, but I don’t take it out on others. Why are people so vicious?” I also read Hesse’s Steppenwolf (1927). At least he got it. He knew the obsession – the feeling of being born a “suicide”. At the end of the day though, even though I had my books, I was still in complete misery. I was still suicidal – I just had bigger words now to describe it. Fantastic! Now I can whisper “perspicacity” with my dying breath. I hurt myself often, but never to the point of what Pink Floyd calls “the final cut”. But unlike in the song, which says, “I never had the nerve to make the final cut”, I genuinely did have the nerve, or rather, the intense desire to PLEASE just make it stop. It’s an extraordinary feeling (and I use the word “extraordinary” in its most horrific sense) to without hesitation be at that place wherein you are fine with dying, fine with overcoming that incredible sense to survive that we all have, that has allowed us to survive for hundreds of thousands of years. So why did I stay? For me, my story, I could not hurt my family like that. I just couldn’t. I came as close as possible just to appease my longing for the time being. This went on for years – which is a quick and convenient thing to say. There was nothing quick about it. As the Smiths so expressively said in the title track to 1986’s The Queen is Dead, “Life is very long when you’re lonely”. And it was.


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Sep 04, 2021

Whatever the reason, I'm so grateful when something—anything—keeps people here long enough to get to the other side of the pain (especially those who've staked out so much space in my heart). As Rilke said, "Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final."

Sep 06, 2021
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"There ain't no dark 'til something shines." – Townes van Zandt

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