Lincoln "told Me that he felt like Committing Suicide often," remembered Mentor Graham, a schoolteacher, and his neighbors mobilized to keep him safe. One friend recalled, "Mr Lincolns friends … were Compelled to keep watch and ward over Mr Lincoln, he being from the sudden shock somewhat temporarily deranged. We watched during storms—fogs—damp gloomy weather … for fear of an accident." Some villagers worried that he'd end up insane. After several weeks an older couple in the area took him into their home. Bowling Green, the large, merry justice of the peace, and his wife, Nancy, took care of Lincoln for a week or two. When he had improved somewhat, they let him go, but he was, Mrs. Green said, "quite melancholy for months."
Robert L. Wilson, who was elected to the Illinois state legislature with Lincoln in 1836, found him amiable and fun-loving. But one day Lincoln told him something surprising. Lincoln said "that although he appeared to enjoy life rapturously, Still he was the victim of terrible melancholly," Wilson recalled. "He Sought company, and indulged in fun and hilarity without restraint, or Stint as to time[.] Still when by himself, he told me that he was so overcome with mental depression, that he never dare carry a knife in his pocket."
...For Lincoln in this winter many things were awry. Even as he faced the possibility that his political career was sunk, it seemed likely that he was inextricably bound to a woman he didn't love (Mary Todd) and that Joshua Speed was going to either move away to Kentucky or stay in Illinois and marry Matilda Edwards, the young woman whom Lincoln said he really wanted but could not even approach, because of his bond with Todd. Then came a stretch of intensely cold weather, which, Lincoln later wrote, "my experience clearly proves to be verry severe on defective nerves." Once again he began to speak openly about his misery, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide—alarming his friends. "Lincoln went Crazy," Speed recalled. "—had to remove razors from his room—take away all Knives and other such dangerous things—&—it was terrible."
... On January 23 Lincoln wrote to his law partner in Washington: "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me."