The Nietzsche Syndrome

“Do what you like, it’s not going to make a difference. I will kill myself.”

“You sound determined.”

“Life’s not for me.”

“How do you mean?”

“I just don’t want it.”

“What’s a typical day like for you?”

“I wake up in the morning, then I walk 4 miles. That’s crazy, right, that I want to die but I want to stay healthy? Anyway, I watch some TV, get something to eat, maybe take a nap.”

“You watch a lot of TV?”

“The TV’s my friend. I come back home and the house is all empty, there’s nothing going on, then I turn it on and the whole room fills up.”

“How do you feel, most of the time?”

“You mean my mood? I feel alright.”


“Not really.”


“No. Just numb.”

“For how long?”

“Ever since I can remember. Look, I know you’re trying to figure out how to help me, but you’re wasting your time. Nothing you can do.”

“You just don’t want to live.”


“Why are you still alive?”

“You mean, why haven’t I succeeded in killing myself? Well, I thought about jumping out of a building but I’m scared of going that way. I want to take pills, but only barbiturates or sleeping pills and you can’t get that at the store and my doctor won’t give them to me. Thought about hanging myself, but I’ve read stuff about how it’s easy to screw that up.”

“How about a gun?”

“No, I knew someone who tried that and he’s a vegetable, living in a nursing home. Tried cutting my wrists, but I didn’t go deep enough, and that didn’t work either.”

“So what did you do last night?”

“You mean with my throat? I cut here and -”

“Did you use a knife?”

“No, a blade. I -”

“Were you in front of a mirror?”

“Yeah, I set it on my bed – my bed’s in the living room so I can watch TV lying down – and I sat down, got a towel on my lap…”

“What did you do then?”

“I made some cuts, slowly, just scratches, then I said I got to do it now, so I push the blade in. I get a lot of blood so I lay down and wait and the blood’s coming out and the towel’s soaked but I’m still awake and I start to think, ‘What if the blood to my brain stops and I wind up brain dead like that guy I know?’, so I called 911.”

“How long do you think before you try again?”

“Oh, I don’t know, it could be tomorrow, could be next year. You want to keep me in the hospital, you go ahead. But I’m telling you, it’s not going to help. I will kill myself someday.”

“It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night”

November 11, 2008 | 1:00 am | By Dr Shyam Bhat