A Navy SEAL Commander shares what he would say to someone going through suicidal depression.
Tim Ferriss labelled Jocko Willink “The Scariest SEAL,” and for good reason.
Jocko Willink was commander of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the Battle of Ramadi in Iraq. He is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Since retiring, Jocko has specialized in teaching leadership to the corporate world, and has co-authored the NYT bestselling book Extreme Ownership and most recently The Way of the Warrior Kid, a children’s book aimed to help its readers bypass the typical pains of growing up.
I was listening to Jocko’s podcast recently, and two hours into his talk he was asked by a listener to discuss suicide.
I was curious what Jocko had to say because suicide is a very big problem.
On average, in USA there are 121 suicides every day, and for every successful suicide there are 25 attempts.
Suicide is most often linked with depression, and suicidal depression as I’m sure you know is a truly crippling disease.
It doesn’t matter if you are rich, good looking, popular, famous, or kind. Suicidal depression can sneak its way into your life and uproot all that is wholesome.
With all this in mind, here are…
Jocko Willink’s Thoughts On Suicidal Depression:
I hear from people sometimes who feel there’s nowhere else to go—there’s no way out, and they don’t have any more options. And they are considering taking the only way out they can see, and that is they want to take their own life. And to anybody out there that’s in that place. I don’t really know what exactly to tell you, but I can kinda tell you what I think. I think No. I think No: don’t save that last bullet for yourself. Don’t save it for yourself…
You lock and load that last bullet and you shoot it at your enemy [suicidal depression]. And when you’re out of bullets, get out your knife and attack with that. And if you lose your knife, you grab your enemy by the throat and you keep fighting, and you keep fighting, and you keep fighting, and you keep fighting—no matter what. And you never quit. You never, never quit.
And if you feel like your life is in a place where you can’t get any lower, and you don’t think you can find any way out… good. Because that means the ultimate challenge is ahead of you. It means you can only go up. And it also means that things are gonna be tough. Things are gonna be tougher than anything you can imagine.
But that storm that you’re in—from your perspective—it seems like that storm is enveloping the whole world. But I am telling you, it is not. The storm that you’re in, it is hard to see out of that storm. It’s hard to see past it. It seems like the storm is everything. But the storm is not everything. And it won’t last forever. You can get out of the storm, and you will get out of the storm, and when you get out… you’re gonna see the sun, again.
But right now, you’re being tried. You’re being forged. You’re being tested by fire and by pain. That’s the test. Don’t fail the test. Don’t fail the test. Don’t give in. Don’t quit. Don’t ever quit.
Fight on. Fight through the storm. Fight through the pain, and come out the other side stronger and tougher and better. A fighter. A survivor. A winner. Victorious.
Closing Words and Practical Advice on Suicidal Depression
If you are struggling with suicidal depression or serious mental health struggles, as Jocko advises: never quit.
There is more hope than you realize, and that storm that you’re in certainly won’t last forever. Even though right now it feels like it might.
There are many, many tools and methods that can help you get your life back on track. For now I will recommend three you can start today:
2) Read “Feeling Good” by Dr. David Burns (extremely powerful book)
2) Get a Headspace subscription
Will these work for you? There is only one way to find out. Take a leap of faith.
Note: If you are considering suicide or know someone who is, get in touch with professional help as soon as you can. There is ZERO shame in this. If you had a broken arm you would see a medical expert, so why wouldn’t you do the same for mental health?
Fight through the storm.
Jon Brooks is a Stoicism teacher and, crucially, practitioner. His Stoic meditations have accumulated thousands of listens, and he has created his own Stoic training program for modern-day Stoics.