On August 24th, 1953, Sylvia Plath attempted to commit suicide. This occurred several days after a shock treatment that Plath would later describe as horrific in her poem The Hanging Man.
On the 24th, Sylvia wrote a note to her mother stating “Have gone out for a long walk. Will be home tomorrow.” Instead of going on a long walk, Sylvia broke into her mother’s medicine cabinet and took almost a whole bottle of sleeping pills. She then crawled into a crawl space under the first floor bedroom. She eventually lost consciousness.
For two days police searched for Sylvia, but to no avail. Newspapers read “Beautiful Smith Girl Missing at Wellesley.” However, on August 26th around noon, Sylvia’s brother Warren heard moaning coming from the crawl space and thus Sylvia was found. She was found with cuts under her wounded right eye and was taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital at Farmington.
Once she came to, it was clear that Sylvia wasn’t interested in getting the help she needed. However, her mother, Aurelia, did what she could to help her daughter, including contacting Sylvia’s benefactor, Olive Higgins Prouty, who ended up paying for Sylvia’s psychiatric treatment.
Sylvia was first sent to a psychiatric ward at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. There she received insulin shock treatments. Insulin shock treatments is where a patient is given high doses of insulin to produce a coma-like state.
Afterwards, Sylvia was sent to the famous McLean Hospital in Belmont. This is where numerous authors, musicians, and poets have gone to including Sylvia’s friend Anne Sexton. At McLean, Sylvia continued her insulin shock treatments along with extensive therapy.