Man's Search for Meaning Questions and Answers
by Viktor Emil Frankl

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How did Frankl suggest one should defend against thoughts of suicide?

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Viktor Frankl was an expert in suicide prevention long before he was sent to the concentration camp. Once there, he put his medical and counselling skills to good use, identifying depressed inmates and others at high risk of suicide and following a course of therapy with them in which they were encouraged to focus on positive thoughts and memories.

Frankl’s focus soon moved from the simply positive to a focus on meaning, the basis of his “logotherapy” technique. He regarded meaning, rather than sex, power or pleasure as the primary need of mankind, hence the title of his most influential work: Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl argues that people consider and commit suicide not primarily because of pain and suffering, but because they have no compelling reason to live. The alleviation of suffering is therefore less important than the provision of meaning in preventing thoughts of suicide. No one who believes his/her life is profoundly meaningful will choose to end that life.

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