Your last words are perhaps your most important words in a way because it is the final time you are able to communicate with those around you. At one time or another, we’ve all given thought to what we would like our last words to be. Maybe you’ll use yours to make a joke or tell a juicy secret? Or maybe you want your last words to be wise and thoughtful? Maybe you want to leave an air of mystery and utter something really creepy for your relatives to ponder over?
Dying is something we don’t like talking about because let’s be honest, it’s scary. It’s the great unknown for us because no one can be sure of what’s coming next, or even if there is anything coming next. So we take what dying people say seriously, hoping that they will provide us with clues about what happens when we pass over.
The stories we are looking at today involve a number of different types of people, some were just ordinary people, others were killers, and some were famous. But they all suffered from a degree of mental illness during their life and they all said truly chilling things on their deathbeds.
15 “Where Does The Soul Find Its Home?”
Many people who have witnessed others during their last moments describe how they often have vivid moments of mental clarity right before they pass away. Even those that have been delirious or none responsive for a long period prior to death are reported to have these lucid moments. This itself is rather chilling.
Take the case of Kathe. Kathe was a mentally disabled patient who ended up in an asylum at a young age. The doctors who cared for her stated that from birth she was severely retarded and never learned to speak at all. She had no control over her bowels and constantly messed herself, but seemed completely unaware of her environment. During her life, she had meningitis many times which further damaged her brain.
Yet as she lay dying the nursing staff witnessed something incredible. This woman, who had never uttered a single word in her life, began to sing. For half an hour she sang the words “Where does the soul find its home, its peace? Peace, peace, heavenly peace!”, over and over again, until she died.
14 "We’re All Prisoners And All Under The Sentence Of Death”
Larry Keith Robison started showing signs of mental illness as a teenager when he claimed to have paranormal mental powers that gave him the ability to read minds. He described voices that spoke to him from clocks telling him that he needed to “liberate” as many people as possible. His concerned parents sought help for him and he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but because he was not violent the authorities decided not to intervene.
When he was 24 years old he shot and stabbed five people to death. They were dismembered after death and there were even reports that he cannibalized one victim. Despite his mental health condition he received the death sentence and spent 18 years on death row before being executed. He declined to make a last statement, but left a final letter to read after his death. In a strange moment of clarity he had written, "We're all prisoners and we're all under the sentence of death - a strangely comforting thought since it makes us all equal."
13 “It's Better To Burn Out Than To Fade Away”
The circumstances surrounding Kurt Cobain's death at the age of just 27 still leave much room for debate but this much is for sure, he was the personification of a tortured artist. Although he achieved fame and success through his music Kurt struggled with drug addiction, severe depression, alcoholism and the stresses of celebrity. In the end, it became too much for the young grunge star to bear and according to the official report, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the 5th of April 1994.
He left behind a suicide note addressed to his childhood imaginary friend Boddah. In it were his last thoughts before the words, “It's better to burn out than to fade away”, a quote that is now famous.
12 “I Won’t Be Part Of The Problem Anymore”
James Blake Colburn was 42 years old when he received the ultimate punishment – he was put to death by lethal injection. Nine years before he had approached a woman, tried to rape her, and then strangled and stabbed her to death.
James was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic at the age of 17 and slept throughout most of his trial due to the anti-psychotic medication he was on at the time. Despite this obvious impairment, he was sent to Death Row. He was hospitalized many times during his stay there, often for eating his own excrement.
In his last statement he said, “None of this should have happened and now that I'm dying, there is nothing left to worry about. I know it was a mistake. I have no one to blame but myself ... I won't be part of the problem anymore."
11 “Everyone Dances With The Grim Reaper”
Robert Alton Harris never had it easy. Both his parents were alcoholics and his mother drank during pregnancy causing him to be born prematurely and with fetal alcohol syndrome. By the age of 13 he was already in trouble with the law and when he was 14 his mother abandoned him. By this time his father was serving time for sexually abusing his sisters so Robert had to fend for himself. When he was 25 years old he killed two teenage boys – a crime that earned him the death sentence.
After spending many years on Death Row at San Quentin Prison he was executed at the age of 39. His final words were "You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the grim reaper."
10 Next Up: My Death
Christine Chubbuck was already a successful television news reporter by the age of 29 but she was missing the one thing in her life that she really craved – a steady relationship. She had close ties with her family but had been very unlucky in love. Her focus on this one failing area of her life was driven by her constant self-deprecation and self-loathing, which only made her more difficult to be around. She suffered from depression and openly shared her suicidal thoughts with her family who tried their best to help her.
On the 15th of July 1974 she opened her show with a few news stories before she looked into the camera and said, "In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in 'blood and guts', and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide.” She then took out a revolver and shot herself in the head on live TV.
9 “Give Me My Life Back”
At the time that Kelsey Patterson was sentenced for the random shooting murder of two people, Texas had just two sentencing option's: life with the possibility of parole and the death sentence. So although he was a paranoid schizophrenic who said that he was being controlled by an electronic implant and had been found wandering the streets naked after the murders, he was sentenced to death because the state feared would might happen if he ever got released.
In a rare move, the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole actually recommended that the Governor commute the death sentence for Patterson based on his mental health but the Governor refused and denied clemency. Patterson was executed in 2004 and his last words are a sad reminder about his confused state of mind. In his final statement, he said, “Statement to what. State what. I am not guilty of the charge of capital murder. Steal me and my family's money. My truth will always be my truth. There is no kin and no friend; no fear what you do to me. No kin to you undertaker. Murderer…Get my money. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my life back.”
8 “I Am Perplexed. Satan, Get Out!”
Never heard of a man called Aleister Crowley? Here are a few facts about him to give you a little bit of background: he practiced occultism and performed black magic rituals, he invented his own religion in which he was God, he used drugs heavily, and he died in poverty at the age of 72. Although he was never diagnosed with any kind of mental health problem, in retrospect, it seems fairly obvious that something was deeply wrong with him. Nevertheless, he continues to be a cult figure in occult circles more than 70 years after his death.
His hard-living lifestyle took a toll on his body and when he finally lay dying his mind was riddled with baffling thoughts. His final words were, “I am perplexed. Satan, get out!” Coming from a man who regularly tried to contact demons this is especially chilling.
7 “There’s Fire Everywhere!”
This creepy story comes from an unusual Reddit thread where users who worked in hospitals were asked to share their most disturbing stories about patients last words.
It goes a little something like this; an old lady, suffering from dementia and riddled with ailments flagged down a young nurse in the hallway. The woman’s face was emaciated and her eyes bulged out of her head. She said to the nurse “You know where I’m going. You know where I’m going when I die. And it ain’t up.” The nurse was taken aback, but managed to ask the old woman if she wanted to speak to a priest to which the woman replied, “It’s too late for that."
A few days later the woman started screaming, “Fire! Fire! There’s fire everywhere!” and soon after that, she died.
6 "Beg For Absolution"
Anneliese Michel was a teenager when she first developed health problems. She was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of sixteen and soon afterward she was treated at a mental hospital for depression. Despite treatment and medication, her condition continued to worsen and she developed religious hysteria, heard voices, and verged on suicidal.
She became convinced that she was possessed by demons and implored her Catholic family to arrange an exorcism which they eventually did. Michel starved herself in hopes that it would drive them out, but she eventually died during the exorcism. Just before she died she told her mother that she was afraid and told the priest, “Beg for Absolution”.
The movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose is loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel.
5 “Oh No!”
When hospital staff are asked to share their creepiest work experiences they often refer to chilling encounters with the dying. This story comes from a nurse working in a hospice ward.
The patient was a 20-year-old man who had come to the hospice because he was dying of primary liver cancer. He had been a gang member as a teen and had a lot of unresolved mental health problems. He was extremely aggressive and would literally spit in his families faces when they tried to comfort him.
During his last moments a terrible horrified look came over his face and with his last breath he cursed and screamed, “Oh No!” fell back, and died. His family and the nursing staff were too frightened to speak for several minutes afterward.
4 “Dearest, I Feel Certain That I Am Going Mad Again”
Virginia Woolf was an English writer who suffered from severe bouts of mental illness during her life. She lived between 1882 and 1941, a time when mental disorders like depression and bipolar disorder were not yet understood so there was very little help available to her. Despite this Woolf still made a name for herself as a novelist and is considered to be one the most important literary figures of the twentieth century.
At the age of 59 Virginia fell into another deep depression. She didn’t believe that she had the strength to overcome her illness again so she decided to take her own life. She wrote a suicide note which she left for her husband, filled her overcoat pockets with stones and walked into a river close to her house. Her body was only found almost three weeks later.
The letter, which contained her final words began, “Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time.”
3 “This Is Absurd! This Is Absurd!”
You wouldn’t immediately think of Sigmund Freud as a mental patient, seeing as how he’s often thought of as the father of psychoanalysis, but there were periods in his life where he also suffered from mental health problems. He reported having disturbing dreams and experiencing long periods of depression, particularly after the death of his father. Instead of speaking to another doctor about it Freud performed “self-analysis” to get the root of his emotional issues and used the findings to further his work.
Freud died by physician-assisted suicide; he was suffering from cancer at the time and was in terrible pain. His last words are both ironic and creepy. As he slowly slipped away, he yelled out, “This is absurd! This is absurd!” It makes you wonder what he saw in those final moments, doesn’t it?
2 “Call Dr. Horder”
Although she died more than half a century ago the work of Sylvia Plath is still widely read today. Plath was a talented poet and novelist, but she suffered from crippling depression that eventually led to her suicide.
Plath had been separated from her husband for about a year and was living in an apartment with her two young children. A nurse who helped her with the children was the one who found the young writer's body. Plath had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning by turning on her gas oven and putting her head inside. Before she did so, she had sealed off the rooms between her and the children with cloths and wet towels. Her final note read, “Call Dr. Horder”. Some believe that the note was a final cry for help.
1 “The Sadness Will Last Forever”
It’s well known that impressionist genius Vincent Van Gogh was not successful during his own lifetime. His work only gained popularity after he killed himself at the age of 37. Most people also know him as the artist who famously severed a portion of his ear with a razor after an argument with a friend.
What most people don’t know is that Van Gogh spent time in a number of psychiatric hospitals during his lifetime because he suffered from delusions as well as depression and psychotic episodes. When his depression finally became too intense, he shot himself in the chest. He died about 30 hours later and his brother reported that the tortured artists last words were, "La tristesse durera toujours” which translates to “The sadness will last forever.”