“How Not to Kill Yourself” by Set Sytes


Set Sytes
Microcosm Publishing (2018)
ISBN 9781621061977
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (3/19)

“How Not to Kill Yourself” is a small book with a lot of powerful words. The goal of the author is to reach out to people who are thinking of committing suicide. It is directed at “imaginative pessimists,” a/k/a, “tortured artists,” types of people. These individuals tend to be sensitive, creative, drawn to dark humor and look for ways to escape their reality with methods that might include television, games and reading. It was written by Set Sytes, a self-identified “cynic” and “pessimist.”

Sytes uses humor and blunt speech to help shake the reader out of their funk. He doesn’t try to gloss over people’s pain with fluffy words about seeing the brighter side. He is gritty, real, and tells it like it is. He wants the reader to know that he thinks it sucks that they are suffering and feeling like ending it all, and that he would rather they didn’t. Suicide is horrific. If they do give up, they are giving in to the darkness and letting it win. He offers advice on steps that can be taken to escape from the darkness. These steps might involve activities of daily living, such as showering, dressing up, eating, and engaging in activities despite the depression. The advice offered will also help people live a better life, even if they aren’t truly suicidal.  Sytes also recommends making sure that that we have a good doctor that understands depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and will provide appropriate medication if necessary. He wants us to know that we aren’t weak if we resort to taking meds to help get us through a rough spot. We can also use our anger and stubbornness to climb out of the dark abyss!

“How Not to Kill Yourself,” by Set Sytes is a great tool for suicide prevention. It is directed at an audience that typically doesn’t have books written to help them. While most of the information is geared towards someone with suicidal thoughts, it is also a great resource for people who are trying to help someone like this. I found the suggestions presented to be extremely helpful.  As a counselor, I gained some new tools to help me deal with students who are creative pessimists. It amazes me to think about how many people this one little book might end up helping or even saving. This is highly recommended reading for everyone, because you never know when you might need this knowledge.

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