Surviving Suicide


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You have this program every

You have this program every year - I always listen and I always call in. I've also written letters to the Concord Monitor regarding the poor mental health resources available for people who are suicidal. Yet nothing seems to change. Instead of always having "experts" on to give their opinions, how about some real people talking about how they deal with the grief, guilt and anger over the suicide of a loved one, and what WE feel should be done?

This program is actually

This program is actually very timely and eerie at the same time. This past weekend we laid to rest a coworker and a friend that I had known for 3 years. Not only was this my first experience with the death of someone close to me, it was also determined that he committed suicide. From the time we got the news, traveled 1,000 miles to the midwest, said good-bye and to this point in time writing this e-mail (6 days in all) there are so many unanswered questions.

Our friend committed suicide on his 36th birthday. There was no note, nothing. He had talked to friends in the days before and the day of. He had plans for the weekend to do what he loved. Though he was going through some changes in his life, there were no signs of distress.

I am looking forward to listen to your program as part of my grieving process...though these days everything seems to come too soon to talk about...

I lost a very dear friend to

I lost a very dear friend to suicide a year ago. I learned something very important. No matter how close you are to someone and no matter how well you think you know them, when they have depression, you will never know the depth of their illness or pain. I made the assumption that when my friend confided in me very personal information, that was the whole or most of the story. But it only scratched the surface of her history and her pain. As I, and other close friends, tried to help her, we had no idea how deeply she was suffering. She spent almost all of her bounding energy on keeping that part of her a secret. I think she finally couldn't take it anymore.
I don't think you ever get over this kind of loss.


30 years ago this fall my

30 years ago this fall my brother committed suicide when we were both in our 20's. I cannot remember a single day that has gone by in those 30 years that I don't think about him. He was one of 7 children from a family that loved him. I guess I'm a "survivor" but, I'm not sure that's how I feel.

My brother's suicide forever changed the make-up of my family. Not only the family that existed at the time of his death, but the family that came to be after that. "MY" family -- my husband and 3 children -- never knew me or my birth family when my brother was one of us. At Thanksgiving, weddings, funerals, "life" events; my birth family and I are often remembering times with my brother in our lives. The family I created as an adult doesn't know that family-- my brother was never in their world.

And-- my brother's suicide forever changed my parents, they never recovered. They were strong people with a strong marriage, but it just took the ground from under them and they never recovered.

Every single day I wish my brohter was here to grow old with me, my siblings and our families -- I have never truly understood how he thought his death would make life better. He was a struggling young adult -- if he had found a way through his struggles I think he would have loved the life that awaited him.

Thank you for providing me a way to say all that.


Hello Betsy- Do you have any

Hello Betsy-

Do you have any advice?

My boyfriend's brother took his own life recently. We live apart from
each other so I am having trouble helping him deal with his grief. I do
not know what questions to ask him to draw out his emotions and have
resulted to just letting him talk about it when he makes the effort. He
views this as me be unsupportive of his grief.

I have never lost anyone close to me and do not know what to offer up as
solutions other than "moving forward." I have suggested that he get on a
regular fitness regimen to help him deal with stress and do something
productive for his own body and mind.

He is on an emotional rollercoaster and this is affecting our
relationship. He keeps breaking up then making up with me because he
doesnt feel like he can be a boyfriend during his initial grief period. I
believe this is part of him trying to identify with a the rationalization
of suicide as trying to "end pain." He knows that his disconnection from
me causes me pain.

I have told him that I feel like he is using his grief as an excuse to be
wreckless in our relationship, and this has offended him. I really think
this is what he is doing and don't know if it is the right approach to
call him on it.

Thanks for your time,


Does anyone have any advice for a person whose spouse seems to be trying
to push them away?

Hi Laura - I am the oldest

Hi Laura -
I am the oldest sibling of 3 children and the only girl. I am 45 years old with 6 year old twin daughters. I have 2 younger brothers who are 6 and 9 years, respectively, younger than I. Our "middle" brother died at his own hand by gunshot in my father's backyard 5 years ago. My youngest brother (and my only remaining sibling) considers suicide, seriously, on a weekly basis because he feels such loss and guilt over our brother's death. They were close in age growing up, and worked together as adults every day in my family's real estate business. As the eldest sibling and mentor of my precious brothers, my family has unknowingly placed great expectation of an "explanation" upon me. Immediately upon my brother's death, everyone pointed fingers at each other which has created everlasting, painful impressions on the heart of our family. The confidence we once felt as a "family unit" is shaken every single morning as we each look in the mirror to ready ourselves for the day - a daily reminder of "woulda, coulda, shoulda's." What is left behind is less strength to cope with daily issues, coupled with irritability, overwhelming sadness, fatigue, and no ambition to care, really, about anything. We have all been in counseling, together and separately, but we can't help but to beat yourselves up over seeing - or not seeing - the signs of my brother's thoughts on wanting to die. Does that mean every time you see depression in someone you care about you should drag them kicking and screaming to a psychiatrist? You risk, of course, your own "craziness" with that reaction because I do it with my own living brother constantly now when he gets down. That reaction, then, only brings attention to myself and my own faltering in my life, with my children, on the job and with my own family and friends who in turn want to take "me" to the mental ward. I can only hope it really isn't THAT extreme on the outside looking in, but on the inside of me as a suicide survivor looking out, it really IS that extreme. I view everything in my life differently now. I have a very difficult time understanding the "extent of the extreme" of my emotions. What is normal? What is excessive? How does one really know when you're over the edge? After much research and counseling on my own (and I must praise Dr. Mark A. Stevens, my psychiatrist in Peterborough, NH for truly saving me through all of this), everyone considers suicide at different low points in their lives, but it is once you start to "make a plan" about it is when you need to seek help. My brother began making his plan 6 months in advance and told our younger brother about it, but none of us were educated enough about suicide to recognize the signs - so it was not taken seriously. Each of us admittedly saw signs of depression, and gave our support as best we could. But, education in suicide also shows that, once someone begins making a plan and doesn't receive the appropriate medical help, they tend to follow-through with the suicide. You may stop them once or twice or more, but eventually they will succeed unless they receive medical attention. Also, there is statistically a chance that another family member becomes so distraught over the first family member's suicide that a second will occur, which is my greatest fear now in the case of my baby brother. It seems to be a domino effect of pain, blame, and guilt and I have no idea how and when and if this will ever end. Thank you for your interest in this tragedy.

Diana Banish

The primary care physician

The primary care physician is the first line for suicide prevention. They must be trained better, allowed more TIME to assess and follow up on their patients. The PCP that cared for my friend who commited suicide grossly failed her. He knew her mental health history, which was significant - I didn't.

My 26 yr. old son died in a

My 26 yr. old son died in a single car accident Sept.2006. He had been in recovery from substance abuse since age 17, but last March he had a devasting relapse. My son was very depressed, he was trying to get his life back together but reluctant to get professional help, and was drinking heavily at night. At the time of the accident he was not wearing his seatbelt and had it deliberately secured behind his seat. Although his death was an "accident", he had a very fatalistic attitude the last few months--was in much emotional pain and clearly was self medicating. He was living in Florida at the time and received terrible psychiatric care. The person who was the most help to us at the time was the NAMI representive. Had I been able to call in to the show, my comments and question would be? Our society does not respect individuals with mental illness, including individuals with severe addiction problems. The people who had the power to help on a most basic level--ie the psychiatrists--seemed totally uninterested in my son's life. What is the medical profession doing to help improve empathy in the psychiatric profession??