Reflecting on our Suicide Scale

The Emmengard Suicide Scale has been going routinely viral, and as a result we have had the chance to talk with various people about it in the comments section, which has been really wonderful. We appreciate the opportunity to talk to people about the scale and how they have been able to use it to help themselves and the people they care about. It has also given us time to reflect on the scale. So we thought we would answer some of those questions people have asked us, and clarify some of our own criticisms of the scale. [ Yes, I know we made it, but we also know it is not perfect, nothing is. It is okay to be critical of the scale. In fact, we encourage it.]

The origin of the scale

As to how we came up with it, it started years ago as a sort of shorthand with our best friend. I honestly am not sure which Emmengardian thought of the idea, but it was a very good and necessary one. Our best friend is autistic and when she is distressed she sometimes struggles to find her words. We too will sometimes lose our words, depending on who is triggered to the front in a crisis. 

We used the scale to help communicate our safety needs back and forth for years and it helped both her and us get through some really thought times together. 

When we lost a friend to suicide she and us regretted that we had not talked more openly with our broader friend group about the things we struggled with. We knew if we had, there was a chance we would not have lost a friend. 

So we, Emmengard (our best friend has no artistic talent), started illustrating the shorthand we had been using for years. Ariadne researched scales of suicide ideation that psychiatric professionals use with clients, and added some of the symptoms to the scales to try to make it a little clearer and hopefully more universal, as people experience suicidality differently and we didn’t have all the things the psychiatric scales mention in our original shorthand. It was more we knew what a number meant for our best friend and she knew what a number meant for us. After getting the wording settled Finna started illustrating the scale. Because she started the illustrations she sort of set the style that other Emmengardians used to help finish the scale. 

Criticisms of the scale

Once it was finished we started sharing it with our friends and it was posted on Reddit somewhere. And from there it was reposted a lot, and some of those reposts went viral in a way we really did not expect. 

People often take issue with the first couple panels and the false dichotomy or happiness and suicidality, and they are absolutely correct in their criticism. We did those first couple panels a bit tongue in cheek. We were drawing them days after loosing a friend, and honestly we were just trying to get our best friend to smile, because she was a lot closer to him than we were, and our best friend has a really weird campy yet morbid sense of humor. 

She has always struggled with suicidal thoughts. And she still does. We do too, but not as consistently as she does.  Even in the shorthand we always made 1 ridiculous and unattainable. It was a small morbid joke between us about how no one can really be that happy. Even though we knew they could. We knew there were people who had never once had a thought of killing themselves. But it was a little too sad to face that reality as people who struggled as we did. 

When the scale went viral, it became quite hard to explain to the myriad of people who found the scale that the tone was a little tongue and cheek, an almost sort of gallows humor shared between people who struggled with suicidal thoughts daily. 

The truth is, we were very much influenced in our tone for the scale by Allie Brosh’s comic “Hyperbole and a Half” and especially her “A better pain scale.” It is a favorite between us and our best friend. She actually owns a copy of Allie Brosh’s book. The suicide scale has a bear theme because in Brosh’s “A Better Pain Scale” 10 is “I am actively being mauled by a bear.” 

If we were to do it again, we might change things a little bit. Everything is always clearer in hindsight. We did our best, and at the time it was doing what we wanted. Our best friend did smile. Too sad to laugh, but we got her to smile. 

Taking the scale with a grain of salt

We hope that if people find it useful for opening a conversation and communicating their safety needs that they will use it. But it is just a tool and a very subjective one. We are just artists. We hope they take the scale with a grain of salt.

We are actually sort of glad we made the tone so silly, not just because it makes a very heavy topic less intimidating, but it undermines the scale’s own authority, so people are more likely to take it with a grain of salt. Or at least that’s our hope. 

We don’t mind the scale going viral. We appreciate that the re-posters are here for the people who reply. We wouldn’t be able to handle so many comments, especially when so many are  from people who desperately need help.  We are grateful for the re-posts.

Take care, take care of yourself/selves, your loves ones and each other,

Ariadne and Elric Emmengard

Dread. a poem

by Sylvia



It settles softly and thickly 

A powdery ashen blanket, 

like snow It is so terribly quiet 

A quiet that hollows out the meaning of 

All the small moments, 

The silence and repose, 

And leaves something empty: 

Moments like dried husks 

With dead sunken eyes. 

Tomorrow becomes a weight 

The past a regret 

The present a dull unending ache. 

What is it? This thing? What is coming? 

The quiet stands unspeaking.

Lol! We were so ambitious!

We had a really grand idea about writing a blog post every week!  We were fools. Fools! I tell you.

Idk… maybe we will surprise ourselves and actually do it this time.. lol I doubt, but hey here I am writing a blog. 


In any case. Hi, my name is Weasel, the best artist of Emmengard. I do all the really cool art, like the weird monsters. I’m kidding. I mean.. I do do the creepy art, but it is often the most controversial of everything we do, and often as hated as it is loved. I am perhaps one of the more distinctive artists? Eh.

The Celestial stuff we were doing for a while was pretty fun (and also emotional, it was like this whole thing,  like processing grief and stuff I don’t talk about). It started as Finna’s idea and sort of snowballed. It picked up a lot of speed because it was a different technique than we have used before and a lot of people wanted to try it out. 

Bran, who is obsessed with colors, was particularly into it.  Ultimately, the celestial stuff ended up being a huge collaboration, and is a style we will likely go back to. However, as Finna came up with it, it will always be generally thought of as hers.


Which brings me to an interesting thing, style. Style is a very subtle and fluid thing. It is hard to even properly define.Individual artists obviously end up developing a unique style, and by just looking at a piece you can guess who did it. 


For us, as a system that can and does co-front  (two or more consciousnesses exist in the front of the mind at the same time and both participate in the goings on of the life simultaneously) style becomes really tricky. 

We often work so collaboratively it is hard to step back from a piece and clearly see which parts of the piece came from which person. So mostly we try not to worry about it too much and just focus on what each individual piece needs regardless of which artist is the one who began it. 


If Elowen began a piece, but then Bran came along and saw that it could be improved by his excellent color sense, he would just change the piece, and Elowen would welcome it, likely standing over his shoulder to see what he was doing. 


So then nailing down Elowen’s style or Bran’s style regarding that piece is difficult. Does the end piece feel more like a Bran or an Elowen? (This is why we just all sign as Emmengard, unless someone feels really strongly about it)


An easier way to think of style for us is more like different schools of art. Each Emmengardian school of art has one or two  Emmengard artists that started the school, such as Finna’s Celestial School, or my (Weasel’s) Creepy School, but each individual Emmengardian can work within those schools to get the desired end result for a given piece.


Weirdly, though, even though we share schools and techniques and often jump in to help each other out, how each individual Emmengardian does something will still, unintentionally have a very subtle signature to it.  Bjorn working in the School of Creepy will still end up making very adorable monsters, where Makani working in that same school will come up with something much more gritty, such as J the Shadow. 


J the shadow is actually a great example. Makani and Elowen typically paint in oil and have a very minimalist style. However, Makani is also my best friend, and so while she paints very much in a minimalist school of her and Elowen’s own making, she also has an affinity for the creepy stuff, and that blend of things leads to J the Shadow. 

So yeah, to sum up, this is why our work is a bit odd and hard to pin down, because we are not single. Also, we are not so isolated from one another that each of us would operate individually like a singlet.

 Kim Noble is a plural system and they have no co-consciousness, and no memory or skill overlap between any of them. So it is very easy to see the clear style differences between them. I seems that in their art at least, they sort of operate like a bunch of singlets sharing a body.

There is nothing wrong with existing however you do. There is no right or wrong way to be a being on this earth. I just think it is interesting to notice how uniquely we experience this world, this life, and how those fundamental differences end up having such a wide spread and unforeseen impact oh .. our life, who we are, how we art. 

It’s just interesting. Also, Ariadne is totally co-conscious now and she can get very interested in very small details that most people would find wildly boring,   Sooo… just to be safe. I am going to cut this thought train off here. We have arrived at the station. This is the final stop, please disembark.Mind that you don’t leave any of your belongings behind. I hope you have a wonderful day.


Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. 


Celestial Bodies part 1

A mixed media painting of the pillars of creation and a person melting into them.

The last month has been a bit strange, and tumultuous. Grief is really weird, and not linear, at all. For us, the constant impulses to bake mini cupcakes and make a Sim version of every single one of our friends so that we could put them up in nice apartments where they would all be safe FOREVER.. those impulses eventually wore off, and they left us in this really barren ruin of a place that we have always called the infinite place. Most people just call it despair.

The infinite place is cold, and lonely. Even though we Emmengardians are all there together, we are still so incredibly alone. We all stand apart looking into the gaping maw of eternity and wondering what is the point of everything. Why is there pain? Why is there heartbreak? Why are there those whose existences have been made so miserable, that death is a yearned for escape?

We spent many years in the infinite place, many years wishing we could somehow just stop existing. Going back to that place after finally having left it, is in some ways harder than all those years we lived there.  

When we finally were able to get away from the infinite place, it was like finding our old selves, it was like remembering who we really were. We very quickly forgot about how dark and how desolate the infinite place is.

After Kevin died, and after our impulses to bake and play Sims wore off, we were left with that long stretching feeling, where we just don’t want to do anything.  All the color has been drained from the world, all the flavor and richness is just gone. We drift in the eddies of time that have run off course in the vast flatness of the infinite place. We are just waiting for the winds to change. It is like waiting for a curse to lift, waiting to receive that spark that will guild us out of our despair.

That spark came in the form of a painting, as it so often does. Finna conceived of a painting of the universe and a person with their arms out stretched, melting into everything. We got our therapist to pose for it, so FInna could sketch the position of the arms from the angle she wanted.

Finna said “we have to do this painting.” The therapist said “Why?”  Finna replied “Because it is what is next.”

The therapist asked “What happens if you don’t?”  The answer is nothing. We don’t mean that in the sense that nothing bad will happen, we mean it in the sense that simply NOTHING will happen. If we do not follow that spark, there will not be another, not for a long time.  Nothing is basically the worst thing that could happen, just more nothingness stretched out before us.

We don’t fully understand the spark ourselves. It is somewhere in the realm of things spiritual and mystic. When we make art from that place, it is always something we only feel the vaguest sense of ownership over. In a lot of ways it doesn’t feel like it is coming from us at all, but being whispered through us.  I can’t tell you what this piece means. It will mean something a little different to everyone who sees it, even us.

All I know is two things: 1 for us, that painting was the first spark leading us out; and 2 when, in the course of painting it, we covered up the figure, we sobbed.  

We didn’t cry at Kevin’s funeral. Funerals are crowded and awkward places, and we are always on high alert around crowds. We couldn’t cry there, but alone in our studio, as the deep blue dripped and flowed, covering up the silhouette of a person, we burst into tears, suddenly and unexpectedly. We sat and cried for a long, long time.

The name we gave that piece is “Surrender,” but the true name of it is closer to the root for Shalom and Islam: SLM. It is an old root word that means something in between surrender and peace.

As we got closer to the end of the painting, we started to feel more ourselves, we started to feel as though the clouds where slowly clearing, and we could even imagine it being sunny again. We were not out of the woods, but we were at least moving. 

It was a few days after finishing “Surrender” that Kai found the next spark to follow.

We’ll tell you all about that, next time.


Take care of yourself(selves),

<3 Conrad




Suicide Scale

We recently lost a friend to suicide.

Our best friend, Megan, and us, actually made this scale together years ago. We have used it to help each other through the toughest times. 

When it was really bad, we could just look at each other and say “What number?” and we always knew what the other one meant. We also knew exactly what the number meant when we gave each other one.  If the number was too high, we made plans for that evening, so we wouldn’t be alone.

This scale got us all through a lot.  It got Megan through a massive depressive spell, and it got us through discovering we have Dissociative Identity Disorder.

But it was just something between us, between Emmengard and Megan.  We were too embarrassed and maybe even ashamed to really talk about it, because talking about it meant admitting that suicide is a thing we struggle with. The stigma of it all just felt too great. We weren’t out about our DID either. 

Now that we lost Kevin, that just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. I wish we had made this earlier. I wish we had shared it with all of our friends, because then maybe Kevin would have known he was not alone. Maybe it could have all ended differently.

We are sharing this now, because we hoping that this could help other people. Maybe it could start a conversation. Maybe it could give friends, like Megan and us, a tool for really talking about this honestly.

Maybe it can help things turn out differently for someone else. 

We miss you Kevin.

-All of Emmengard



For screen readers or other read to me apps:

1. ⁠I am so happy that I will literally go insane if the happiness is sustained for any length of time. 

2. ⁠I am feeling pretty rad. I vaguely recall times I’ve been unhappy but it feels like distant memories now. Things are looking up. 

3. ⁠It is not the best day of my life… I have stuff on my mind, but I don’t think of suicide, except when that one weird friend brings up stupid hypotheticals. 

4. ⁠Suicide doesn’t occur to me except in moments of frustration or stress. It’s like a weird escape hatch my brain has decided to just go to in an attempt to escape stress. It doesn’t feel serious, it’s almost a joke.

 5. ⁠The joke is getting really stale. Suicidal ideation and other intrusive thoughts keep happening, but I am mostly interested in other things. It’s like a low key death affinity.

 6. ⁠I am thinking about suicide a lot. It has become troubling. I can distract myself if I really try, however if an out of control semi was headed towards me, I might not move. I am passively suicidal.

 7. ⁠I cannot stop thinking about suicide, and unfortunately I cannot distract myself. I might be doing more risky things like driving recklessly or drinking to excess. I have graduated from passively suicidal to having a death wish. I need help. 

8. ⁠I am no longer fighting the thoughts, just sort of indulging in them. I sort of want to make the suicide plan, but I am stopping myself. I am holding on, but barely. It isn’t safe for me to be alone. I am suicidal. 

9. ⁠I am actively making a plan to end my life. I am telling people goodbye, settling accounts, and starting to write THE note. I am actively suicidal. I need to tell someone.

 10. ⁠I am actively trying to kill myself. If I do not get medical attention it is very likely I will die.

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Brazilian Portuguese:

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Early Spring Storm


Colorado is a strange place. This week it was warm enough for us to wear shorts, and then suddenly snow. We had planned on going out that day, but decided we would rather not drive after all. So we spent the day in the studio.

 Sky ended up being the person out. She worked a bit on a large piece Bran started, following his plan to add  white branches and vibrant yellow circles. When she was done, she didn’t know what else to do. 

We don’t have much space in the studio, so she got out one of the smallest canvases we have, and tried to think of something to paint.

She felt kind of bad too. She wasn’t creative like Bjorn. She couldn’t think of any monsters, or fantastic creatures, like he could. She couldn’t think of a vibrant abstract landscape like Bran. She sat in the silence of our studio looking out at the blowing snow and not thinking of anything much at all, just how nice the snow was, and how even though the telephone wires were not very pretty, she liked how the snow had piled up on them. 

So that is what she painted, not in a flash of clear inspiration, not in a deluge of chaotic creative energy, but in a moment of quiet openness to the world as it is.   How we see things is just as important as the worlds we can imagine.  

I am glad Sky reminded us of that this week. I think her piece is very elegant. She did a wonderful job. 

I hope you/you all have a lovely week.  Keep arting, however it is that you art.

All our best, 

Ariadne (& Finna who desperately wants to play video games now we have finished our work ^-^)

Wellspring of Becoming


Hello all,

A lot has been changing lately. We joined an artist guild.. they told us we need a website ( we made a website.. And we signed up to speak at the plural conference. We will be talking about plurality and art.

It feels big.

Anyway, making the website was hard for us, and not simply because we have zero experience with webdesign. It was hard because I, Elowen, realized that I don’t want to actually sell any of my paintings. Our paintings are so much of who we are. We pour ourselves into them. I have really intense relationships with all the paintings I paint. I feel that if I don’t feel anything when I am making it, no one will feel anything when they look at it.

We throw ourselves into our work. I throw mysefl into my work.

Losing a single piece is gut wrenching, and I have been avoiding it our entire life. I hoard my lovelies.

However, as I was going through the process of making the website, I realized something else. Those paintings were how I knew I was me. When I was painting I was solidly myself. I was holding onto those paintings because when you are a member of a system it is so easy to feel lost in your own life, so easy to lose yourself in everyone else you are sharing a life with. I was ephemeral. But when I was painting I was real. I was solid. I was me.

Losing those paintings isn’t about just losing something I deeply love, it feels like I am losing myself.

However, that is all different now. We know each other. We love each other. I look at the creepy weird work that Weasel does, work that I could never do, that it never even occurs to me to do, and I love her so much. I look at Conrad and his confidence, his charm and humor and wit. I could never do that. I am not like him in that way at all. I love them. I am not just the one who paints anymore. I am not fiercely holding onto myself anymore. I am not ephemeral.

The love I have for my family, for my system mates, and the love they have for me, that is more solid and more real than all the paintings I have ever made, because it is from this deep love that all of our work comes from. Our love is a wellspring of becoming. So I can let them go now. Cause I and the others, we will always be making more.

So much love,


We? Yes we.

Who are we? What is consciousness? What is personhood? What is the deep twining secret of human nature? What is human? What does it mean to be human?

I lost my name a long time ago, and when I found it, it was like looking down and realizing I had been holding it in my hand the entire time, like a thread. I looked down and saw that I was holding the thread that could unravel it all.

So careful, I had been so careful before, for years, holding that thread. This time I had had enough.

I looked down at that thread, that thread I had been holding all my life, and I grasped it with both hands and pulled with everything I have in me. Sometimes to find the new becoming you have to destroy old illusions. You have to find a way to stand in a world without ground, to breathe in a world without air, to exist as you are in the face of a world where you are an outsider, an alien, a freak.

But I would rather that than live a lie. I would rather dare for a life of reality, even if it is hard, than to live inside a pretty illusion.

We are not just one person. That is what is real.

I am Ariadne of Emmengard. I am one of the 22 people who live here and share this life, this exerience. I love us. I love who we are.