It's normal to have an urge to jump off a cliff

It’s normal to have an urge to jump off a cliff

There you are, driving across a bridge spanning a deep ravine, when suddenly you sense an urge to drive off it. Yet you’ve no desire to kill yourself.Believe or not, this feeling now has a name. In aresearch study published last month in the Journal of Affective Disorders, a team from Florida State University’s psychology department explored this freaky feeling and dubbed it high-place phenomenon.“We were talking one day in a lab meeting and some of us had experienced it,” recalled psychology doctoral student Jennifer Hames. But when the lab searched the psychology literature, they could find no mention of it. “So we thought, What a great study!” It could, they thought, shine light on one of Freud’s ideas, that some people have a “death wish,” and that some suicides are purely impulsive, absent any sign of depression or even sadness.  Hames and her colleagues surveyed 431 college students, asking them about urges to jump from high places and thoughts of suicide. They also assessed the students’ levels of depression, and their sensitivity to anxiety. That doesn’t mean how anxious they are; it means how sensitive they are to the physical effects — faster heart beat and shortness of breath — that accompanies anxiety. Those physical sensations can themselves be interpreted as dangerous.About a third of the sample said they’d felt the urge to jump at least once. People who had thought of suicide were more likely to say yes, but over 50 percent of those who said they’d never considered suicide experienced the phenomenon, too.

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