Can Loneliness Actually Kill You? (A Nuanced Look at the Science)

Turns out, loneliness is a double-edged sword.

Stephan Joppich
12 min readMay 27, 2023
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I stared at the screen. Flabbergasted, I scrolled through the search results.

“Loneliness: the Silent Killer.”

“The Detrimental Effects of Loneliness on Your Health.”

“Loneliness as Dangerous as Smoking 15 Cigarettes a Day.”

These weren’t the headlines I’d hoped to find amidst a period of grave loneliness. I actually looked for ways out of my loneliness maze and wanted to unveil what was happening to me. But instead, I got confronted with the fact that I was slowly… dying?


From then on, every moment of my loneliness felt twice as painful. On the one hand, there was the actual distress of feeling lonely; on the other, there was the corrosive guilt that isolation might harm my health. I shouldn’t feel this way, I kept thinking. Loneliness isn’t good for me.

As I devoured the headlines like a greasy bag of chips, I noticed subtle differences. Some of the less sensationalist articles mentioned words like “transient” or “chronic.” They also talked about the intrinsic benefits of loneliness. And most importantly, they didn’t treat loneliness as an incurable disease but as part of…



Stephan Joppich

Engineer turned philosophy student • I write about loneliness, minimalism, and books that changed my life • More food for thought →