Why Do All My Friends Want to Kill Themselves?

When depression is just one push notification away

Michael R. McBride
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readSep 30, 2018

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Credit: jesadaphorn/iStock/Getty Images Plus

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

— “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot

II often get texts at 9 a.m. that scare me. I live in London now and, depending on the time zone, that’s around 3 a.m. in the U.S.

While I soberly eat some Greek yogurt (and maybe a banana), my phone vibrates on the table.

“Michael, I want to fucking kill myself.”

It could be anyone.

My heart starts pounding in my chest. I hesitate before opening it; they’ll see I’ve read it and expect a response.

“Are you okay?” I type.

Then I delete that text, letter by letter.

“Hahaha me too dude.”

I press send.

I take a bite of yogurt.

One day, I’ll send that message to a corpse.

I’I’m not naive enough to think that my generation is the first to experience depression. T.S. Eliot wrote his poem “The Hollow Men” a hundred years ago. A hundred years before that, a surge in mental illness was blamed on newly-invented trains. “Scientists” theorized that the vibrations literally shattered one’s nerves.

No, I do not think depression is new; I’m sure that even cavemen, sometime after discovering fire, felt a certain ennui looking into its flames.

Nor do I think myself or my circumstances particularly unique. I grew up in Plano, Texas. I went to a mid-tier university in California. My parents are still together. I had to work a few jobs to put myself through college, but I’ve done alright since. My friends and I wouldn’t look out of place in a Stella Artois commercial.

So why do we all want to load a revolver, put the barrel to our head, and blow our fucking brains out?

If you’re over the age of 35, you may have found that last visual a bit disturbing. You’re concerned and maybe want to call my parents.

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Michael R. McBride
Human Parts

I write about history, technology, and mental health. Check out my TikTok for interesting facts (391k followers at idea.soup) or YouTube channel for deep-dives!