Some Painfully-Edifying Reading: Suicide Notes

So this is, by far, the worst bed-time reading I’ve ever done. I stumbled across this collection of (ostensibly) real suicide notes last night at about 1am, and, though I’m glad to have read them, I wish I’d waited ’til daytime. I suggest you read them too though. They offer a rare glimpse into a moment in life that many of us will never reach, though all of us have contemplated: the moment where we decide we’ve had enough of being. Understanding what it’s like to view the world from within that moment is to understand something, I think, of what it means to be human, something about our human-ness that is often hidden, even from us.

May we meet happier ends.

These suicide notes were gathered at the coroners’ offices by a suicidologist/psychiatrist who asked to be anonymous. He edited identifying details out of the compiled manuscript, and we changed the names. But the text of each letter plus the age and sex given are real. All these people did kill themselves. Were they ambivalent about it? About half the hundred or so letters we saw seemed to have some element of doubt.

Married Female, 59

Dear David,
After six weeks of streptomycin shots and a total of eleven weeks of rest in bed we have conclusive proof that the ulcers in my bronchial tubes have not healed. The short period of the streptomycin inhalations could not have brought on the results if the ulceration had even partially healed. To try further would mean many more months of bed rest — more shots and inhalations — I can’t remain at the hospital for the winter months and a prolonged stay at a rest home is out of the question. I did some figuring — the weekly rate there — the amount of streptomycin for shots and inhalations plus the doctor’s weekly visits would total to over $200 a week — I can’t bleed my family for any such amount of money, and that means that as soon as the money I have in my checking account runs out I would have to return home — back to the same conditions which caused me to go downhill so steadily. It’s a vicious circle from which there seems no escape. I could of course use up the money from the sale of our furnishings and silver as well as some I put aside for the furnishing of our home — but all it put together would be like a drop ion the bucket — besides I am now convinced that my condition is too chronic and therefore a cure doubtful.

All of a sudden all will and determination to fight on has left me. I have long ago prepared myself for the time when I reached the end of the trail. I feel calm and at peace and grateful that I can go to sleep painlessly. I feel justified in terminating a life which no longer holds any hope of having the essentials which make it worth living — I did desperately want to get well — I still had much to live for — hope for recovery — hope of a reunion with the children — work which I loved and which could have given me financial security and great satisfaction. But it was not to be — I am defeated and exhausted physically and emotionally.

Please tell the children that I loved them always and that my love has never faltered. I grieve that I could not have had the joy of being close to our babies, but that is no one’s fault. Thank God they are well — with my passing all menace to their wellbeing will have disappeared.

I want you to know that I have a deep affection for you. I am deeply grateful for all your kindness. I wish I could have made a happier life for you. It was mostly my fault, please forgive me.

Please write to Fran and Tony and to Marilyn and Jim and tell them that my love and gratitude could not possibly be put into words. Their generosity, devotion, love and tact made it possible for me to accept their financial help over a long period of time. I wish with all my heart that they might have been better rewarded — All of you, my dear ones, I ask to keep my memory alive in your hearts — To live on in the hearts of our dear ones is all that I can conceive of immortality. Please think of me kindly. Remember that which was good and lovely in our relationship and forgive me for the many mistakes I have made. Now that it is all said I feel at peace.

I want Dr. B. to officiate at my funeral. I think Joe would like to have him with him at that time.

Dear David,

I am said that I must go just a few days before your birthday — but it so happened to pan out. I see no good in incurring the expense and misery of the bronchoscopy. I wish I could spare you the ordeal you have ahead. Try not to grieve. I ask all of you, my dear ones, not to mourn my passing. Be glad I am at least free from the misery of the bronchoscopy. I wish I could spare you the ordeal you have ahead. Try not to grieve. I ask all of you, my dear ones, not to mourn my passing. Be glad I am at least free from the miseries and loneliness I have endured for so long and that at last I’ll have peace and rest…

Single Female, 21

My dearest Andrew,
It seems as if I have been spending all my life apologizing to you for things that happened whether they were my fault or not.
I am enclosing your pin because I want you to think of what you took from me every time you see it.
I don’t want you to think I would kill myself over you because you’re not worth any emotion at all. It is what you cost me that hurts and nothing can replace it.

Single Male, 51

Sunday 4:45 PM. Here goes

To who it may concern,
Though I am about to kick the bucket I am as happy as ever. I am tired of this life so am going over to see the other side. Good luck to all.

Benjamin P.

Married Male, 48

Elaine, Darling,
My mind — always warped and twisted — has reached the point where I can wait no longer — I don’t dare wait longer — until there is the final twist and it snaps and I spend the rest of my life in some state run snake pit.
I am going out — and I hope it is out — Nirvanha, I think the Bhudaists (how do you spell Bhudaists?) call it which is the word for “nothing.” That’s as I have told you for years, is what I want. Imagine God playing a dirty trick on me like another life!!!
I’ve lived 47 years — there aren’t 47 days I would live over again if I could avoid it.
Let us, for a moment be sensible. I do ont remember if the partnership agreement provides for a case like this — but if it doesn’t and I think it doesn’t, I would much prefer — I haven’t time to make this a legal requirement — but, I would much prefer that you, as executrix under my will, do not elect to participate in profits for 2 or 3 years or whatever it may be that is specified there. My partners have been generous with me while I worked with them. There is no reason why, under the circumstances of my withdrawal from the firm, they should pay anything more.
I could wish that I had, for my goodby kiss, a .38 police special with which I have made some good scores — not records but at least made my mark. Instead, I have this black bitch — bitch, if the word is not familiar to you — but at least an honest one who will mean what she says.
The neighbors may think it’s a motor backfire ,but to me she will whisper — “Rest – Sleep.”


P.S. I think there is enough insurance to see Valerie through school, but if there isn’t — I am sure you would out of the insurance payments, at least — I hope further and I don’t insist that you have the ordinary decency — decency that is — to do so — Will you see Valerie through college — she is the only one about whom I am concerned as this .38 whispers in my ear.

Married Male, 45

My darling,

May her guts rot in hell — I loved her so much.


Divorced Female, 61

You cops will want to know why I did it, well, just let us say that I lived 61 years too many. People have always put obstacles in my way. One of the great ones is leaving this world when you want to and have nothing to live for.
I am not insane. My mind was never more clear. It has been a long day. The motor got so hot it would not run so I just had to sit here and wait. The breaks were against me to the last.
The sun is leaving the hill now so hope nothing else happens.

Married Male, 74

What is a few short years to live in hell. That is all I get around here.
No more I will pay the bills.
No more I will drive the car.
No more I will wash, iron & mend any clothes.
No more I will have to eat the leftover articles that was cooked the day before.
This is no way to live.
Either is it any way to die.
Her grub I can not eat.
At night I can not sleep.
I married the wrong nag-nag-nag and I lost my life.


To the undertaker:

We have got plenty money to give me a decent burial. Don’t let my wife kid you by saying she has not got any money.

Give this note to the cops.

Give me liberty or give me death.


Married Male, 45

Dear Claudia,

You win, I can’t take it any longer, I know you have been waiting for this to happen. I hope it makes you very happy, this is not an easy thing to do, but I’ve got to the point where there is nothing to live for, a little bit of kindness from you would of made everything so different, but all that ever interested you was the dollar.
It is pretty hard for me to do anything when you are so greedy even with this house you couldn’t even be fair with that, well it’s all yours now and you won’t have to see the Lawyer anymore.
I wish you would you give my personal things to Danny, you couldn’t get much from selling them anyway, you still have my insurance, it isn’t much but it will be enough to take care of my debts and still have a few bucks left.
You always told me that I was the one that made Sharon take her life, in fact you said I killed her, but you know down deep in your heart it was you that made her do what she did, and now you have two deaths to your credit, it should make you feel very proud.

Good Bye Kid

P.S. Disregard all the mean things I’ve said in this letter, I have said a lot of things to you I didn’t really mean and I hope you get well and wish you the best of everything.

Cathy — don’t come in.

Call your mother, she will know what to do.



Cathy, don’t go in the bedroom.

Married Female, 50

When a “man” doesn’t know where to take his wife — then she isn’t a wife any more — I hope you will be “free” to take anyone any place and I’m sure you will not have any trouble as to places — Please don’t tell my mother the truth — your whole tribe is partly responsible for this — from your mother on down — hope they are satisfied.

Married Female, 56

About the Evil god (yes)
About the Evil Seers killing people for their money (yes)
I am a profit at my death
I am a root of the stem of Jesse (yes)

We have made many discoveries. We have found out who the people with the mark of the beast are. And the devil was a human being now killed and cast into hell and the angel with the keys of the bottomless pit is in hell casting out all the good souls which these evil people have cast into hell for no reason. The good Seers who serve our God are 1/3 to 2/3 of the evil ones in this world. We are better than holding our owne but in Heaven God is almost over come and I kill myself so I may go and help him, because I have a funny little quirk in my brain which helps.

6 palmy each at a few years sport. Our god will send them into the world.

Single Male, 13

I know what I am doing. Annette found out. Ask Cara. I love you all.


Widowed Female, 52

Please tell Ron’s folks I love them very much but my heart breaks when I see or hear from them. Also all our friends especially Irene and Charles and Ella I love them also. Forgive me for not seeing them.
Everyone seems so happy and I am so alone. Amy. I wanted to visit you but I am going around in a dream. Alice I wanted to help you paint but how could I with a broken heart. And my head aches so much any more my nerves are ready to break and what would happen if they did.
You will say I am crazy and I can’t go on this way just half living.
I loved this house once but now it is so full of memories I can’t stay here. I have tried to think of some way to go on but can’t. Am so nervous all the time — I loved Ron too much but is that a sin, with him gone I have nothing. Oh I have the girls and family but they don’t fill the vacant spot left in my heart …
Xmas is coming I can’t go on I’m afraid I would break down. I’ve thought of this so many times. I love every one but I can’t be one of you any more. Please think kindly of me and forgive me. I only hope this is fatal then I can rest and no more trouble to any one. Do with Lisa whats best I know she has been a lot of worry to mama and I’m sorry. I tried to keep the yard up that seemed to be the only comfort I had. I loved it but that wasn’t anything. I’ve lost every thing so why go on. I worshipped Ron and when he went I lost my whole world and everything.
I’m so tired and lonely.
There goes a siren. Oh how can I stand being left. I need to go to a Dr. but I am afraid. I’m so cold.

Mother Love,

Married Male, 40


Remember what I told you and always respect, protect and obey your mother and always remember that I love you so much. I am going to leave you forever because I am too sick to go on. God bless you my Son and when your time comes to go to Heaven you will find your ole Pappy waiting for you.


Single Female, 16

Dear Mother & Dad,

Please forgive me. I have tried to be good to you both. I love you both very much and wanted to get along with you both. I have tried. I have wanted to go out with you and Dad but I was always afraid to ask for I always felt that the answer would be no.
And about Bud, I want to dismiss every idea about him. I don’t like him any more than a companion, for a while I thought I did but no more, in fact, I am quite tired of him, as you know, I get tired of everyone after a while.
And mother, I wish that you hadn’t called me a liar, and said I was just like Hap. as I’m not. It is just that I am afraid of you both at times, but I love you both very much.

So Long,

Your loving daughter
that will always
love you,


P.S. Please forgive me. I want you to, and don’t think for one minute that I haven’t appreciate everything you’ve done.

Single Male, 35 (after killing his girlfriend)

Mommie, my Darling,

To love you as I do and live without you is more than I can bear. I love you so completely, wholeheartedly without restraint. I worship you, that is my fault. With your indifference to me; is the difference. I’ve tried so hard to make our lives pleasant and lovable, but you didn’t seem to care. You had great plans which didn’t include me. You didn’t respect me. That was the trouble. You treated me like a child. I couldn’t reach you as a man and woman or man and wife as we’ve lived. I let you know my feelings toward you when I shouldn’t have. How I loved you, what you meant to me. Without you life is unbearable.
This is the best way. This will solve all our problems. You can’t hurt me further and anyone else. I was a “toll” while you needed me or thought you did. But now that I could use some help, you won’t supply the need that was prominent when you need it. So, good bye my love. If it is possible to love in the hereafter, I will love you even after death. May God have mercy on both our souls. He alone knows my heartache and sorrow and love for you.


Single Female, 31

My boss, Kenneth J., seduced me and made me pregnant. He refuses to help me. I had not had intercourse in two years. He says that I will have to suffer through it by myself. Several people know about this — my doctor, Dr. James R., and Pete M., who works at Willams. Pete and I never had a love affair, although Kenneth would like to drag Pete into it. Also, Dr. Arnold W. knows about it.

I have always been such a good girl.

Daddy dear, as much as it hurts me, I cannot make it this Friday. I may be in very serious trouble. I have always been a very good person, but it looks like I really got in a mess, through no real fault of my own.

I must have been born to suffer.

Love – Elizabeth

P.S. Call me if you can. When will Sally be back? I may need her desperately.

Married Male, 52

Dear Joan,
For 23 years we lived happy together. Our married life was ideal, until two years ago when I witnessed Kristy die in the hospital something snapped in me. You remember when I returned from the hospital I broke down. That was the beginning of my illness. Since then my condition was getting progressively worse, I could neither work or think logically. You have been thru “Hell” with me since then. Only you and I know how much you have lived thru. I feel that I will not improve and can’t keep on causing you and the children so much misery. I loved you and was proud of you. I loved the children dearly and could not see them suffer so much on account of me.

Dear Children:

Please forgive me.


Divorced Female, 37

To No-one and Everyone:
Because of a growing conviction that a hereditary insanity is manifesting itself beyond my control, I am taking this way out — before mere nuisance attacks and rages against others assume a more dangerous form.
Because I am an agnostic and believe funeral fanfare to be nonsense — I ask that it be forgotten. Instead, knowing there to be a marked shortage of cadavers for the medical profession, for which I have endless respect, I hereby bequeath 1) my body to medics for dissection; also 2) To Mark B. all personal effects — to be divided as whim decrees — with Dr. Lois J., L.A. and to each — a deep fondness and love. 3) To Joe A. the greatest devotion — the kind that “passeth all understanding.” 3a) And my life.

Anita R.

4) To my father, Vincent M., the sum of one dollar ($1)

Single Female, 21

Fall quarter I called Suicide Prevention. I’d called them before and the people were nice, but this time the woman acted a little indignant. “Why the hell do you want to do something like that?” she asked. We talked until she said she had other phone calls. But she made me promise I wouldn’t try it without calling back first. I had a bottle of Coricidin from a wisdom tooth operation. I’d been thinking about it for a month off and on. Much later that night I took ten Coricidin and went to bed. I woke up in the morning feeling really rotten — weepy, groggy. I could hardly move I thought I was going to die any minute. My roommate came home and got a friend to drive me to the school infirmary, where they gave me something that made me sick to my stomach. The doctor who gave it to me calmed me down. She said it happens to a lot of people, the pills wouldn’t hurt me. I felt tingly, like I might pass out any minute.
I was immediately taken in a wheelchair to the psychiatrist’s office. I talked to him about five minutes. He kept yelling ta me about why did I take the pills, why didn’t I do this or that. I remember thinking, boy this man is a real jerk. I told him I didn’t want to see him any more. He said, “That’s fine,” and put me in a locked room with bars on the windows. I couldn’t make phone calls. I felt humiliated, which made me angry. I’m not crazy. I’m not weird. I don’t want people to look at me like I’m nuts. I’m not some nutty kid who tried to knock herself off. I was most angry at being stuck in that room. I expected to be put in a straitjacket any minute. I complained until they moved me a pretty room and let me make phone calls.
I was there about two weeks. My psychiatrist kept harping at me about school — was I going to stay in or drop out? I saw him ten minutes a day. The other patients and one orderly helped me a lot more than he did. I just wanted to find a place where I could be alone and think about things. I left feeling like not much had been accomplished, except letting me know that I didn’t want to attempt it again. No — I feel like I’ve become a lot more sensitive to people. I don’t look at their problems as trivial any more. I almost like it when my friends come to me with problems. I feel like I can help now. I still haven’t told the two people I was most angry at — my father and my boyfriend — why I was in the hospital.

Single Female, 27

One year ago March, while I was living in Michigan, I took an overdose of Elavil. I was seeing a psychiatrist and I was just getting off the medication. But the bottle was still in my apartment. I’d one out and had drinks, came home and that’s when I did it — about ten in the evening or so. I called my boyfriend Jonathan in California and my social worker. I told them I had taken the pills. The social worker told me to drive to the emergency room. I’d have been lucky to make it to the front door. Jonathan called a friend of mine, who came to the apartment and broke down the door. I was in a coma for five days. I guess I was lucky because the doctors told everybody I wasn’t going to make it. Then they said I’ve have permanent brain damage. When it didn’t happen they said it was the miracle of the floor. I was out of the hospital in about three weeks; a week of that was in the psychiatric ward, which was a real drag.
I had a lot of problems with my memory for a while. Even now I can’t remember some things. Starting a week before the overdose I don’t remember anything at all. All I know about it is what Jonathan says I told him over the phone. Everybody asks “Why did you do it?” and I don’t know. It sounds real stupid.
Everybody in the hospital was real nice. I was afraid that they would get down on me but they didn’t. It was a Catholic hospital, and I had my own room. Friends were there 24 hours a day. It made me realize how many friends I had. On the psychiatric ward they give you tests for brain damage. They ask you a lot of silly questions. They test your reflexes, your memory. They give you EKG tests. It took a while to get back my coordination. I couldn’t write or do other things with my hands. Most of the time I stayed by myself. There were programs for the other patients but they didn’t put me in any because they didn’t know how long I would be staying.
I’d tried twice, but those times weren’t serious. I was just trying to get some attention. The first time I was 14, and I slashed my wrists. It was basic adolescent scare tactics. As a result I ended up in an inpatient clinic for teenagers for about five months. Almost everybody there was there because they ran away or they were doing a lot of drugs. The second time was a couple of years ago. I did a Valium overdose. It wasn’t very serious — I just had to have my stomach pumped.
This time it shocked me to realize what could have happened to me. I realized how much I had hurt my friends and family, which I didn’t think about before. I started wondering if people could trust me. It upset my life a lot — it threw everything backwards. Jonathan flew in from California. HE said the scariest part was worrying about having to decide what to do if my body kept living but I had no brain response. When I first woke up I didn’t think there would be anything wrong with me. And then it hit me that I couldn’t move. I was embarrassed that people had to see me like that.
Once you’re out of the hospital a lot of institutions won’t hire you. You can’t get health insurance. You have to lie on your job applications. People look at you like you’re dangerous. It’s real scary for some of my friends — they think they’re responsible. Trying to convince people that I was OK was the hardest thing. That they didn’t have to watch over me, that I wasn’t going to try it again.

Single Male, 21

I tried it five years ago. I was at a neighbor’s house and fired a gun at my head. Nothing happened; it seemed empty. I fired it at a wall and put a bullet in it. So a minute later I found some Seconals in a medicine cabinet. I remember watching cartoons and taking the pills one by one. A neighbor lady found me and couldn’t wake me up. I couldn’t open my eyes or move, but I heard everything. I remember the lady shaking me and saying, “Oh, my God.” I remember the ambulance people taking off my clothes and making me throw up. There wasn’t any pain. I don’t remember having my stomach pumped.
When I woke up it was five days later. A big black lady kept tickling me. “‘Bout time you woke up,” she said. “I’ve been tickling you for three days.” I thought I was in heaven — it looked like some place in heaven for the misfits. Turned out I was in the basement of a free clinic, a long room with rows of beds with all kinds of teenagers, pregnant girls, suicides, drug addicts. We walked around in gowns, smoking cigarettes and watching TV. The reason I tried was I was angry at my mother, but when she came in she just said, “Why’d you do this — to try to get attention?”
Am I glad I was rescued? Oh yeah. I was so glad I didn’t die. It made me realize how much I appreciate myself, because I had a glimpse of what I might have lost. I had some friends and I would’ve missed them. I didn’t have to go home after that. They put me in a foster home. The State made me go to a psychiatrist. I never liked the man. I thought he had more problems than I did. I felt drugged and slow for a couple of years. Every now and then I’d take speed to feel normal. Downers still make me feel speedy. If I had a suicidal friend now I’d ask them, “Why don’t you have any alternatives? Could it really be so awful?” That’s what I say to myself now.


If you find yourself contemplating ending your life, please don’t. You are needed. Please, instead, call the suicide -prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

4 Responses to “Some Painfully-Edifying Reading: Suicide Notes”
  1. Linn Dallas says:

    Outside of incurable deteriorating and painful health problems, the system itself causes people to consider such drastic moves. The ever increasing repression of individual choice and the forced financial drudgery placed upon nearly every back greatly inhibits personal freedom….and many people had rather give up life itself than their freedom. The freedom to thrive, prosper and enjoy life is the only real reason to keep on living anyway. Take that away and what does a person have left?

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  1. […] Some Painfully-Edifying Reading: Suicide Notes ( […]

  2. […] brief van Bernd K., maar ook voor de meeste afscheidsbrieven van zelfmoordenaars. Engelstalig blog the Holy Dark publiceerde er een aantal. Alle galgenhumor daargelaten: het is naar en heftig om te lezen waarom […]

  3. […] Some Painfully-Edifying Reading: Suicide Notes […]

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