Hopelessness, desperation or despair is often seen as the main mental state that leads to suicide (Institute of Medicine 2002). Some scholars even find this feeling more important than depression as a predictor of suicide (Beck et al. 1996: 338). Some suicidological studies in China also cite “hopelessness” as a cause (Yan et al. 2003; Xu Xiuru 2003; Jiang and Xu 2003). Both gambling for qi and loss of face, though understood as positive ways to protect dignity, involve hopelessness. The idea of “hopelessness” is best seen in another local term: “being unable to think through.” An episode in my fieldwork led me to consider this concept.