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Outside/In: What is the "call of the void?"

A photo of dangling sneakers sitting over the edge of Angels Landing.
Joel Moysuh
More than a third of all people might feel the 'call of the void.' What is it?

A few weeks ago our host, Nate Hegyi, was on the edge of a very high cliff in Utah’s Zion National Park when he heard a little voice inside his head whisper… “jump.”

He didn’t heed the call, thankfully, and when he got down safely he discovered that more than a third of all people might feel this urge, ominously known as “the call of the void.”

Most of us can wave off these impulses. But what if you couldn’t? What if the Call of the Void was so intense that you almost acted? Is there a cure?

This episode contains a contextual reference to suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or just needs someone to talk to, reach out to the folks at the Crisis Text Line, a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.

Featuring: Jennifer Hames, Stephen Hunt


This 2020 study, in BMC Psychiatry, looks at the prevalence of high place phenomenon and whether it’s connected to suicidal ideation.

Read Jennifer Hames’ paper in The Journal of Affective Disorders on the “call of the void”: “An urge to jump affirms the urge to live: an empirical examination of the high place phenomenon.”

The Imp of the Perverse, by Edgar Allen Poe

Listen to Marconi Union, “Weightless”

Listen to our previous episode “Even Hikers Get The Blues

Outside/In is a show where curiosity and the natural world collide. Click here for podcast episodes and more.
Before joining New Hampshire Public Radio in February 2022, Nate covered public lands, federal agencies and tribal affairs as a reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a consortium of NPR member stations in the region. Nate's work has aired on NPR, BBC, CBC and other outlets.
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