Veronika Decides to Die
|Original title||Veronika Decide Morrer|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)|
|Pages||210 pages (Paperback)|
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Veronika Decides to Die (Portuguese: Veronika Decide Morrer) is a novel by Paulo Coelho. It tells the story of 24-year-old Slovenian Veronika, who appears to have everything in life going for her, but who decides to kill herself. This book is partly based on Coelho's experience in various mental institutions (see the biography Confessions of a Pilgrim by Juan Arias), and deals with the subject of madness. The gist of the message is that "collective madness is called sanity".
Veronika is a beautiful young woman from Ljubljana, Slovenia who appears to have a perfect life, but nevertheless decides to commit suicide by overdosing with sleeping pills. While she waits to die, she cancels the suicide letter she starts to her parents while suddenly provoked by a magazine article.
The magazine article wittily asks "Where is Slovenia?", so she writes a letter to the press justifying her suicide, the idea is to make the press believe that she has killed herself because people don't even know where Slovenia is. Her plan fails and she wakes up from the coma in Villette, a mental hospital in Slovenia, where she is told she has only a few days to live due to heart condition caused by the overdose.
Her presence there affects all of the mental hospital's patients, especially Zedka, who has clinical depression; Mari, who has panic attacks; and Eduard, who has schizophrenia, and with whom Veronika falls in love. During her internment in Villette she realizes that she has nothing to lose and can, therefore, do what she wants, say what she wants and be who she wants without having to worry about what others think of her; as a mental patient, she is unlikely to be criticized. Because of this new-found freedom, Veronika experiences all the things she never allowed herself to experience, including hatred and love.
In the meantime, Villette's head psychiatrist, Dr Igor, attempts a fascinating but provocative experiment: can you "shock" someone into wanting to live by convincing her that death is imminent? Like a doctor applying defibrillator paddles to a heart attack victim, Dr Igor's "prognosis" jump-starts Veronika's new appreciation of the world around her.
Film adaptations and cultural references
The song 'Veronika decides to die' by Plymothian ska-rock band NoComply is also a direct reference to the book