Suicidal Despair: A Total Eclipse of the Sun

I turned back to the sun. It was going. The sun was going, and the world was wrong. Annie Dillard, “Total Eclipse” (from Teaching a Stone to Talk)

The words above are three simple sentences from Annie Dillard‘s widely praised essay, published in 1982, that describes in detail her experience of witnessing a total eclipse of the sun. You can read a recent reprint in The Atlantic.

As GoodReads reviewer “Jenny” writes:

On the surface, it seems like an innocent enough story, a recollection of a journey to see an eclipse, but the act of witnessing the eclipse awakens the writer into the realities of life. Through the stages of the eclipse, she travels through time and space, witnessing and experiencing lives that are not hers but are shared by all who partake in the human experience. At one point, she hears someone refer to the eclipse as looking like a life saver (the candy) and translates it to literally be a life saver because it pulls her back to reality.

The sun was going, and the world was wrong. This could also serve as a metaphor for the symptoms of despair and hopelessness that lead some people toward suicidal desperation.

A new suicide prevention video movingly and powerfully captures the essence of a gay teen’s inability to find acceptance and the utter devastation that brings. But it turns out that it’s not too late for him. In the end, things will be okay. Better than okay.

The song is rapper Logic‘s “1-800-273-8255,” the actual number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Included in the video’s story are singers Alessia Cara and Khalid and actors Coy Stewart (the boy in question), Nolan Gould (the object of his affection), and Don Cheadle and Matthew Modine as their dads.

Add yourself to the seven-million-plus viewers who’ve watched this in the few days since its release.

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