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View Full Version : Can you ever prevent a suicide?



Mandy-Jane
11-30-2007, 09:09 AM
I found out the other day that a friend of ours committed suicide by driving on the wrong side of the road, switching his headlights off and then driving into the front of a truck. As my husband was one of his close friends, it was left up to him to inform everyone else of what had happened. Several people made comments like "I'm not surprised." "I expected he would do something like that." And so on. Of course, at the same time, they're all talking about him in glowing terms, going on about how wonderful he was, what a hard worker, what a great sense of humour, what a fantastic person. Well, my question is this: If some of them are not surprised that he did this; if they half expected that something like this could happen one day, why didn't they do anything to prevent it? I know if someone is determined to take their own life, then they will. There's no way you can stop them. But if people have even a vague idea that he was heading this way, why couldn't they at least have taken some time to talk to him, ask him how he was going, I don't know, even just keep a closer eye on him? I don't know. It just seems crazy to me that they're going on about "Oh yeah, I thought he would do something like that" and in the next breath "He was such a great guy." If he was so great, why didn't you help him?

I just don't understand it. Am I being too harsh on them? Or are we all just so caught up in our worlds, we don't care about anyone else?

Storyteller5
11-30-2007, 09:38 AM
No, I'm with you. If you think someone is in that bad shape, then talk to them and see if you can do something. I believe that you can't prevent a suicide if someone is adamant about doing it, but you can certainly make them pause and really reconsider their plan of action. It doesn't sound like they tried to step in from what you said of their reactions to the news.

That really is so sad! I hope you and your husband are alright.

A. Hamilton
11-30-2007, 09:52 AM
I'm sorry to hear this. Something about your story struck me though-this person not only took their own life, but put others in danger in the act. From someone who everyone else said was a good guy-this has to be shocking. Maybe he was just real good at putting on a false face. Maybe he was lonely, and angry about it. Or maybe just so disturbed or depressed he could not think clearly. We really can't say what silent torments another person endures.
I was once drawn into someone's life who committed suicide. During her final struggle, she sought my guidance but was not willing make the choices needed to turn her life around, and admitted it. Too hard, she said.
We can offer a needy soul a little guidance, a shoulder, maybe point them towards professional or spiritual help, but we can not make their choices for them.
Again, I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

Joe270
11-30-2007, 10:38 AM
Sometimes people only see it after the suicide. It's a little comment that nags at them later, but they thought nothing of it at the time.

I've had a few friends commit suicide. One shocked me more than the others. This guy, I'll call him Jim, was a man's man, and women just fell over him. He always had two girlfriends at one time, two. The sort of women who would never look at me twice. Women who looked like models or starlets, and he always had one on each arm. I suppose he was pretty darn handsome, and his work-outs showed. He was a derrickman in the offshore oil field, next in line for assistant driller when he got laid off. So he made good money, until the downturn hit.

He threw a party for a few of his friends one night, about ten of us I recall. We all brought stuff to 'warm' up before going out to a local bar to see a band. He said he was celebrating his last unemployment check. I remember him talking about having to flip burgers to make rent and I gave him some leads on good paying jobs, no, great paying jobs he could get. I had the contacts, and he'd walk right in. Hell, the people I knew would have considered that I did them a favor sending him to them.

We partied for a couple hours, and then it was time to go. As we were separating into cars with designated drivers, he said he'd be along after a bit. I figured he and his two girlfriends wanted to play a bit before the show. So we all left.

He left the girls in the living room, walked into the bedroom and put a twelve-gauge into his mouth and blew his head off. Less than two minutes after we left he killed himself.

A friend forgot something that he couldn't do without, I can't remember what, but we went back. We got there with the first police cars. I only remember the confusion, the screaming and yelling, the cops pushing us out.

I'm still pissed off twenty-five years later. I knew he was down, but he wasn't out. He seemed so energized about the job prospects. Hell, I don't know. I just don't know nothin'. What the fuck happened?

I did hear some people saying they saw signs, but I shut them out as Monday morning quarterbacks. If they knew so damn much, why didn't he invite them to his last hurrah? I'll tell you, though, those who were closest to him didn't say much, they just wandered around in shock.

Can you prevent a suicide? I don't know. I know I really hate the crap the people who commit suicide put their friends through really sucks. My memories of him have faded so much that I really only remember the night of his suicide.

Sometimes I think I hate him for what he did. I hate the stupid act, that's for sure. When I think of how hard some people, born with infirmities, fight so hard to live, and he just threw it away. Threw so much away.

It was cowardly, hateful to his closest friends, and just so damned stupid. The oil company called his dad two months later looking to rehire him, as an assistant driller.

Angelinity
11-30-2007, 11:18 AM
can you prevent a suicide -- possibly, if you have a unique insight into the psychological makeup of the person contemplating it, but the overwhelming amount of energy (both physical and spiritual) that it would take to even attempt such a feat, usually forbids it.

suicide-prone individuals don't keep their torments secret. they normally hardly miss an opportunity to give hints and sometimes even openly threaten suicide. as a rule, these 'crazy' statements are not taken seriously by the average person, even those very close to him/her. the prospect is just too disturbing to deal with, and most of us simply do not have the expertise, strength or emotional stability to get involved to that level.

truth is we are all investing our energy in resolving our own issues -- and most people have a few issues to work out to 'stay on top'. life is challenging on the most part, loves to throw curves and blindside us. each individual deals with it in their own way--and for as long as they are able. unfortunately, some of us can suddenly find ourselves in a place with no doors, feeling trapped, worthless or unloved; maybe feeling that no one cares, that we will never be loved.

this is a very vulnerable place to be and by this time there is so much baggage being carried around, that only a miracle could change what's about to happen. it is too late to help this person once they've reached this critical mass.

like cancer, suicide can theoretically be prevented, and it can go into remission -- but seldom, if ever, can an outsider stop it from happening.

we should not feel guilty that we let it happen -- you can take the gun away, thus delay it, but death comes easily to him who seeks it.

nor should we blame, resent or hate these tormented souls. they did the best they knew how.

aruna
11-30-2007, 11:37 AM
I'm sorry to hear this. Something about your story struck me though-this person not only took their own life, but put others in danger in the act. From someone who everyone else said was a good guy-this has to be shocking. .

This too was what shocked me the most. Couldn't he have driven into a tree or off a bridge or something? Doing it this way really, really pisses me off and I can't feel sorry for him. ANy greatness he had was completely erased by that.

A friend of mine committed suicide a few months ago. She used to be my very closest friend when we were teenagers and young women. We went through thick and thin. We were in London together, wild and free for the first time in our lives, at the age of 17 and 18. Then she, I and her boyfriend went travelling for 18 months through SOuth America. It was fantastic. During that trip, much of what she was to become later in life formed itself.

She identified competyely with the INdios of SOuth America and was deeply concerned and angered by their plight and their exploitation. Later, she went back to Guyana with her guy and we all started a farm in the jungle, far away fromc civilisation. She wanted to live as close to nature as possible. SHe even delivered her second child in the jungle, with only her husband as midwife.

Later, the family went to live in AMerica. Her husband was one of the sweetest guys I ever knew, really softhearted and good-natured, while Margaret was more of a fighter. SHe always said what she thought out loud and didn't care if others were offended. She always defended the underdog, with everything she had.

We lost touch but then a few years ago began corresponding. ABout a year ago she wrote me to say she was leaving her husband and going ot live in Arizona. She sung the praises of Sedona, where she was going to live. She told me of all the work she was doing on behalf of Native Americans, how she supported them politcally,and also the Amerinidans back in Guyana. They all saw her as a fighter for their rights. She would write furious letters to the Preisdent of the country and try to get things done.

I remember she once wrote me a rather rude letter because I had declined to get involved witrh some project she was into, saying I had no time, She thouhgt we should ALWAYS have time to save the planet and so on. She accused me of selfishness. I ignored that letter and she later apologised.

I have mails from her dated just a few weeks before she committed the act. She had really bad words for her husband, said it was a nasty divorce, which I just cannot imagine from him, He is a guy who I have NEVER seen angry or or hurtful to another in even the slighest way. But she blamed him for everything. ALso, for the fact that their kids and grandchild stayed with him and did not come to Arizona with her.

Out of the blue, he wrote to say she had committed suicde. No-one had seen it coming. SHe kept up the act till the very end; however, she moved into a motel in New Jersey very near to where he and the family were living. They had not even known she was so near.

He said that hundreds of people from far and wide came to attend the funeral. She was well loved and admired.

I think her rage and the sense of frustration at not being able to change the world to a better place got the better of her. It is very sad, She was basically such a good person, and only wanted the best for the world. Her husband said she had fallen prey to a terrible mental disease. I have not been able to find out more.

Joe270
11-30-2007, 11:41 AM
My friend had never previously attempted suicide, and never threatened suicide.

He just did it. No doubt he planned it, but no one suspected anything. No one I count, at least. I have disputed the other gossip as that since. Perhaps I'm wrong.

JoNightshade
11-30-2007, 11:55 AM
Was the person in the other vehicle okay? I hope so.

To me, suicide is one of the most selfish, self-centered acts anyone can commit, and taking someone else with you is just beyond belief.

Angelinity
11-30-2007, 12:13 PM
My friend had never previously attempted suicide, and never threatened suicide.

He just did it. No doubt he planned it, but no one suspected anything.

no he wouldn't have let on, certainly not threatened to do it -- the way in which he carried out his plan shows that he had long reached the place of no return: for one, he did not invite any of the friends who might have suspected his 'instability' -- all he wanted was a normal last feel-good party, no questions asked, no heavy subjects.

people at this stage, having already resoluted that they 'must end it', will not ask for help, because they 'know' that no one can help them. their dialogue is now entirely internal, and if they give any hints at all, these would be too subtle for the uninitiated.

he clearly thought enough of your friendship to 'share' his last moments with you.

yes, suiciders are 'selfish' -- the act is after all, their last 'battle' in a lost personal war; their 'last testament', the one thing they wish to be rememberd for.

most will fail completely in considering how their action may impact others negatively -- at that moment, it is all about them, not the rest of the world...

Mandy-Jane
11-30-2007, 12:15 PM
this is a very vulnerable place to be and by this time there is so much baggage being carried around, that only a miracle could change what's about to happen. it is too late to help this person once they've reached this critical mass.

That makes sense. I guess he was at that stage where nothing would have helped. But I still wonder, why didn't we see something, anything earlier? I just wish there was something we could have done.

Mandy-Jane
11-30-2007, 12:17 PM
This too was what shocked me the most. Couldn;the have driven into a tree or off a bridge or someting? Doing it this way really, really pisses me off an dI can;t feel sorry for him.


I know what you mean, but in his defence, he drove into a semi-trailer. I don't think he would have driven into a car where other people may have been hurt or killed. I think he knew that a truck driver would probably be okay. (I'm guessing; I don't really know, but I'd like to think that was the case.)

aruna
11-30-2007, 12:22 PM
I know what you mean, but in his defence, he drove into a semi-trailer. I don't think he would have driven into a car where other people may have been hurt or killed. I think he knew that a truck driver would probably be okay. (I'm guessing; I don't really know, but I'd like to think that was the case.)


Wel, maybe; but you never know the results of a road accident; for instance, there could be a pile-up afterwards where others are injured.

ALso, I always think it is so selfish to chosse a method of suicide which leaves a horrible, messy job for others, not to mention expenses. How horrible, to have to cut open that wreck and remove the squashed human bits! SOmething like drowning oneself or taking pills is so much "cleaner" and more considerate!

Angelinity
11-30-2007, 12:28 PM
...But I still wonder, why didn't we see something, anything earlier? I just wish there was something we could have done.

each person is unique and has their own unique 'script' running in the back of their mind. some are so fearful to show themselves to the world at large, their public persona is almost entirely fabricated in such a way as to forbid anyone to see 'inside them'.

many times these individuals can appear upbeat to everyone else. the 'act' is perfect, no one suspects their vulnerability, they appear normal and stable most of the times. any small slip-ups will easily be overlooked -- 'everyone has a bad day!'

chances are you could not have done anything if you suspected -- or even knew for a fact this person was suicidal.

i'm sorry for your grief -- it is normal to feel it, good for you to work through it. but you must try to let go of it soon -- you did nothing wrong, are not to blame, nor is your husband or any other friend or family.

Devil Ledbetter
11-30-2007, 04:18 PM
Was the person in the other vehicle okay? I hope so.

To me, suicide is one of the most selfish, self-centered acts anyone can commit, and taking someone else with you is just beyond belief.That was my first thought too, Jo. If a person wants to take themselves out, I'm sorry. But you don't take someone else down with you. There is no way he could have known the truck driver would be okay and actually, we don't know if he was. But even if the trucker was unscathed, that doesn't make it acceptable.

Why risk someone else's life and health when a firm bridge embankment and 95 miles per hour will do the job for you? Or, as Aruna said, there are even less messy ways to go.

Two people I know killed themselves in unrelated suicides in the final week of May, 2003: my manager, and the father of my daughter's friend. Nobody that I know of saw either one of these suicides coming.

My manager changed from volatile to relaxed that week, which in retrospect should have been a clue. His was a carefully planned exit, and people who knew him well said he did it as a final F.U. to his ex-wife, who was taking him to the cleaners. "You want my money? Here, have it all... with a big side of guilt."

The other suicide was more of a hot-blooded reaction to a huge fight with his wife. I'm still disgusted with him for abandoning his young daughter. She adored him.

Pat~
11-30-2007, 05:51 PM
I think that there are possibly some people who can prevent a suicide--but they are usually trained professionals. There are just too many different 'types' of suicidal behavior out there, to make generalizations. The hardest ones to prevent would be the ones no one saw coming, the ones with no warning signs.

When I was clinically depressed, I had suicidal thoughts that were totally unlike my nature--anyone who knew me would have been shocked. The only one who was able to prevent me from carrying out a plan was a licensed clinical psychologist. The mind is a complicated thing, and a "sick" mind is really that. I think we need to reserve judgment on people who commit suicide, regardless of how angry it may make us feel. There is a false assumption in that judgment that people are always able to control the way their mind functions. If you've ever gone through mental illness, you know that that is not the case.

nerds
11-30-2007, 06:22 PM
I know what you mean, but in his defence, he drove into a semi-trailer. I don't think he would have driven into a car where other people may have been hurt or killed. I think he knew that a truck driver would probably be okay. (I'm guessing; I don't really know, but I'd like to think that was the case.)


That may be, but he hung permanent guilt and emotional baggage on that truck driver, who will have been informed by police that this was a suicide action. The driver was made an instrument of demise. That's not acceptable to do to another human being. Very sorry to hear this whole story and for your loss of a friend.

I've no sage words to add to what's already been said here. One of my best friends in high school was determined to do it and she ultimately did. In her case there were many signs, and she spoke openly about it toward the end. Her family, friends, school counselors and outside psych help all rallied to the cause, but she went and did it anyway.

One of my sisters, very similar, with numerous thwarted attempts. She ultimately did respond to the help that was all around her and decided to choose life.

Preventing it? Pretty tough to do. If they're determined to do it, whether or not they show signs ahead of time and people respond, they'll do it.

DeleyanLee
11-30-2007, 07:03 PM
In all honesty, it's probably their method of coping with their own grief. Grief is one of those emotions that totally strips control and leaves you feeling powerless. I've known several people to say, and believe, things like "I saw this coming" in order to grasp some of that control back and help them deal with their emotional state.

Cold and cruel to others, everyone's got their own way of dealing with shock and tragedy. It's possible this is their way.

nerds
11-30-2007, 07:12 PM
In all honesty, it's probably their method of coping with their own grief. Grief is one of those emotions that totally strips control and leaves you feeling powerless. I've known several people to say, and believe, things like "I saw this coming" in order to grasp some of that control back and help them deal with their emotional state.

Cold and cruel to others, everyone's got their own way of dealing with shock and tragedy. It's possible this is their way.


That's a really good point. Yes. Have seen that happen.

Skippy
11-30-2007, 07:13 PM
I work in Mental Health and we have a Suicide Prevention coordinator and the bottom line is you can't stop someone from wanting to kill themselves, especially those who really want to end their lives.
What you can do is forgive yourself. Because those who have survived a suicide of a loved one will always blame themselves and there is really nothing they could have done. I know, I've been in that place before.

You constantly think "could I have done something, Why didn't I see?" All you can do is remember that person in a happier time instead of wondering what was going through their minds.

I am really sorry for the lost of your friend.

Skippy