Call of the void: why do we feel the urge to jump off high places?

Call of the void: why do we feel the urge to jump off high places?

Some people experience an urge to jump off high places when they are standing on a roof or bridge and looking down, and they wonder if it is healthy to feel this way. It turns out, this urge is a whole scientific phenomenon, and there is a lot of psychology behind it. What is a call of the void?

Call of the void
Man jumping between roofs. Photo:, @Mary Taylor
Source: UGC

Jumping off the high place phenomenon is not new or rare - it is actually an experience that unites a lot of people. It happens more often than anyone would like to admit, and there is more to it than it seems.

The call of the void: what is it?

First of all, the phenomenon of the call of the void should be explained. Call of the void French is l'appel du vide, which is also a common name for it.

L'appel du vide translation is the call of the void.

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Usually, such a feeling happens when the person is looking down from the edge of a high building, bridge, cliff, or balcony. They are admiring the view and then sense something strange - thoughts of jumping from this high place start appearing in their head.

Call of the void l'appel du vide should not be confused with suicidal ideation, as this is a serious issue which the person should immediately get help with. It is mostly a passing feeling, and the person does not even want to jump - it is merely a thought and a temporary urge.

Call of the void examples

Although this feeling is mostly known as a high place phenomenon, high places are not the only ones that can make you experience it. This impulse can also be sensed when you do other risky and dangerous things.

Some examples include:

  • turn the wheel and drive into traffic as you drive;
  • jump into the water from the bridge;
  • jump in front of a train or stand in subway tracks;
  • cut yourself as you hold a sharp object;
  • stick your hand into a burning fire.

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The call of the void
Man sitting on the edge of the building. Photo:, @Khoa Vo
Source: UGC

After this occurs, the person immediately counters these sensations and tells themselves they would never do anything like this. Even though they would likely not act on their feelings, the thoughts are still there for a while.

L'appel du vide psychology: what may cause it?

Studies have shown that it is rather normal in people, as even those who had never experienced suicidal thoughts have experienced those urges in one way or another.

Jennifer Hames, who led a study on the call of the void in 2012, said that, in a way, this phenomenon is a weird way of appreciating your life, which is quite a paradox.

During the study, out of 431 undergraduate students of Florida State University, a third reported that the phenomenon was something they have experienced. Over 50% of those who have gone through it never had suicidal tendencies. Additionally, people with higher anxiety were more likely to experience this urge.

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People do not know for sure what might cause it, but it is commonly believed that your brain is wired the way it triggers these thoughts in certain situations.

However, there are some theories about possible reasons for this feeling.

  • Survival instincts. It is thought that your brain might send a signal to warn you when you are in a dangerous situation, but you might mistake this quick signal for a desire to do the opposite.
  • Anxiety sensitivity. People who have anxiety and fear are more likely to experience this syndrome. If a person has anxiety sensitivity, it often means that the person can interpret a signal which they struggle to understand as a dangerous thing.

Should I get help?

Most of the time, you should not feel too concerned about experiencing this feeling. A lot of people are going through the same thing when they are in a dangerous situation, and it is usually a passing thought.

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There is no evidence that this can severely affect your mental health or cause suicidal ideation. Moreover, by rejecting these thoughts and reassuring yourself that you will not act on your impulses, you continue to choose life, and thia says a lot about your desire to keep going.

Call of the void French
Man riding a skateboard. Photo: @Jonathan Portillo
Source: UGC

However, if you notice that these thoughts can lead you to harm yourself, or if you have suicidal ideas along with these impulses, it is best to see a professional. The same goes for people who experience anxiety or depression.

If the call of the void intrusive thoughts that can potentially prompt you to hurt yourself start becoming a problem, getting help is strongly recommended.

Hopefully, this article helped you understand the call of the void phenomenon a little better. While this urge is absolutely normal and happens in individuals, it should be kept under control and experienced in healthy quantities.

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READ ALSO: How to know if you are socially inept and how to deal with it reported about being socially inept and what to do in such cases. Usually, socially inept individuals suffer from anxiety and intrusive worrying, which makes their life more difficult.

How do you deal with social awkwardness and confusion, and is there a cure for this condition? Learn more about being socially inept and read some advice on how to make it better.


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