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Coping with a suicide

An Idiot AbroadAn Idiot Abroad Registered User regular
Hello all,

I'm not quite sure what I'm asking here. Not to pop the handbrake right from the get-go, but I just can't imagine any words really helping. People tell me not to feel guilty -- I still feel guilty. People tell me it's not my fault -- I still feel that it's my fault. I'm sorry if it seems like I'm being brash and shutting you down. I really don't mean to, I just want to communicate my mental state. I really would like to hear similar experiences and how you coped with it, and how it is months/years down the line. I'll try and keep this relatively brief:

About seven months ago, in early November, my best friend committed suicide. I met him on the first day of school in sixth grade, so we had been best friends through middle school, high school, and college. (I'm in my early twenties now). I did not see any warning signs, and neither did his wife, though she did say he was very distant the day he committed suicide.

He killed himself by ditching work, checking into a hotel room, and deliberately overdosing with heroin. For the first week or so afterward, I had convinced myself that it was likely just an accidental overdose. He had a slight, slight history with drugs (a little bit of pot, and mushrooms two or three times; he had never done heroin before). I figured he was just trying the next step, and miscalculated. But then his wife found a suicide note tucked away in their bedroom.

For the past year and change, he had been suffering from intermittent (but increasingly severe) seizures. His doctor kept on hopping him from medication to medication, which often left him groggy and out-of-it, especially in the months leading up to his death. He wasn't able to get a driver's license, since the chance of him having a seizure while driving was too risky, and had to stop taking courses at college. He wanted to be a doctor, but the financial burden crushed that.

In his note, he said that the seizures (and subsequent barrage of medications) made him feel like he'd never be the man that his wife deserved. He said that for months now, the thought of suicide was sometimes the only thing that got him through the day. So it had been something he had been planning for a while.

We had the kind of friendship where, for six months we'd hang out two or three times a week, playing tennis or just Halo or exploring the city at night, and then for the next three months would just stay in intermittent contact via text. When he killed himself, we were on the tail end of one of our "off" periods.

Last November was a semester where I had chosen to take a lot of classes. I also chose to work two jobs, one twenty hours a week, another thirty. To top it off, I was in the middle of pursuing a girl that I loved. I had never been that busy before in my life, but it was by my own choice. I shifted my focus away from my family and my friends.

For a month or two leading up until his death in early November, we kept on trying to meet up. He would suggest something, but I would be busy. I would suggest something, but he would be feeling groggy the day of and have to cancel. And sometimes, we just didn't feel like it. He asked me to see Gravity with him and a friend, and I said no because I didn't like the friend. I suggested the renaissance fair, but he had already been. We couldn't get it to line up.

I feel like I failed him more than anyone else. He came from a bad home, with an alcoholic mother and abusive father. I didn't have the best home life, either. We would meet a lot when things got bad and just spend time with each other. I knew him the longest of anyone -- he had only known his wife for three years -- and I wasn't there for him. That's a fact. People say that you can't do the "maybe" game in this scenario, but I don't see why I can't. If I had been there more in his life, especially near the end, maybe he wouldn't have felt so hopeless and alone. Maybe if I had just told him how I cared about him, it would have made a difference.

But instead, I was always distant and sarcastic. We used to joke about him having seizures, in the beginning, when they first started. I gave him the nickname of "Seizure Boy" (just typing that makes me want to throw up) and we both would laugh, but obviously it had an effect on him. That was a side of him that was really traumatic and impacting his life negatively, and instead, I mocked it. I never set myself up as someone who even close to sympathized with him about it, so it's no wonder that he never came to me about these serious thoughts. If I had been even slightly less of a sarcastic ass, maybe we could have talked.

I'm not angry at him for committing suicide. We had a mutual close friend who got very resentful about it, calling him an idiot and whatnot. But I don't feel angry, because I feel like it was my hand guiding the needle into his arm, too. It wasn't just him. Suicidal people don't exist in a vacuum, and I was part of the environment that allowed that to happen.

I'm sorry if this is too heavy for a help and advice forum. I haven't talked about this with anyone in any format, not to this extent. I know I should get counseling, but I don't know if I could manage to say any of this while in the presence of someone else. Even just typing it made me take my hands off the keyboard a few times. And I'm sorry this is so much longer than I meant it to be. I wanted to try and keep it short.

Posts

  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    Feeling guilt when someone close to you is incredibly common. It's so common it's almost cliche'. In all likelihood there was nothing you did or could have done to change what happened. He made a decision and it was his decision alone. I definitely think you should talk to someone about this, and I won't tell you not to feel guilty because what would be the point... but I will wish you luck and tell you how sorry I am for your loss. It sounds like you were a pretty amazing friend to him, even up to the end.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • UncleChetUncleChet N00b Lancaster, PARegistered User regular
    @OP I've been in a similar situation, different circumstances, twice. It's been nearly 20 years for one and nearly 14 for the other. Even today, I think about it, and I wonder what I could have done/not done differently. They say that it gets better, but they really don't know. What I Do know is this, in My opinion, suicide is the single most selfish act a person can take. The person who leaves us isn't doing us any favors, or making anything better for anyone around them, they're pretty much taking the world as we know it and taking a big ol' shit on it. The Best thing that you, and I can do, is to simply try to go on, each day, as best we can. Nothing can take the pain away, we can only try to keep their memory alive with us, and try, someday to dwell only on the positive memories. It's Very hard, but it's all that we can do. I am More than happy to be here to listen with you, if you want to chat. I am more than willing to talk about my own experiences and outlooks on those. Or, just know that someone out there on the internet has been where you are, and is still going.

    I'm sometimes grumpy and random, feel free to overlook the strange man in the corner.
  • Kick_04Kick_04 Registered User regular
    I personally have never been in this situation. My ex-wife on the other hand has been in a similar situation. For her it was her brother who shot himself in the mouth in his nephews home. I am not sure how the 2 nephews are doing to this day, but she still has a lot of issues with it.

    For about 2-3 months she was completely useless in any type of day to day life, now it happens around his birthday & suicide date (his birthday was end of Nov. hers is middle of Dec. suicide was almost exactly in the middle of the 2 dates. The one thing that helps her & the one counselor at school (son killed himself), on the day of their death they write notes and attach to helium balloons. It is not for everyone, but it does help them.

    Her brother killed himself about 6.5 years ago and she still hasn't gotten over it and blames herself for his death. He was in and out of jail most of his adult life, had been on her door step with gun at temple more then once. Apparently 2-3 days before he was at her door and she refused to let him in to steal meds and what not, so this is main reason why she blames herself.... The one thing I can say is his death has completely ruined her life. She has almost killed herself dozen times in those 6 years, has lost everything including her kids.


    Everyone copes with death differently, nothing wrong with being pissed off at him. Nothing wrong with feeling guilt that you could of done something different... The end of the day however you need to keep moving forward, not dwelling in the past... There is a chance even if you spent every day with him the 2 months before that day it still would of happened, seizures are in the brain so it is hard to say if you would of 100% made a difference. Just a simple chemical imbalance can cause people to start thinking differently and become extremely suicidal (like thyroid imbalance).


    Out of the people on this forums, no one knew him like you did. If the two of you have had a sarcastic relationship since middle school. I doubt calling him seizure boy drove him to kill himself.
    I feel like I failed him more than anyone else. He came from a bad home, with an alcoholic mother and abusive father. I didn't have the best home life, either. We would meet a lot when things got bad and just spend time with each other.
    They are the ones who failed him, if anything there is a good chance that you helped him live through high school. I can't say for sure but sounds like you helped him find love and had some type of meaning in his life until being derailed by the seizures.... truth be told, depending on the abuse from growing up they could be the cause of the seizures.

    PSN id - kickyoass1
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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Suicidal people of course don't exist in a vacuum, but from everything you've said none of this sounds like it was about you at all. Chances are he was not thinking of you. I know that does not make it better.

    Over 10 years ago, my grandparents killed themselves. My grandmother was starting to lose her faculties and was physically unwell, and they'd always said they would go together. I don't think my mom took them very seriously the few times they mentioned that, but they were very serious. I have all kinds of issues wrapped up in that, and very few of those had anything to do with their choice. I've always felt that people have a right to die if that's what they really want.. the thing that chokes me up every time I think about it though is that my grandfather never said goodbye to me. He could have, but he didn't. I see so much of my grandfather in both the man I chose to marry and in my son, and he was such an amazing man, and that one detail really stings in a way that his death never could have on its own.

    I didn't really mourn at the time. I am bad at dealing with things on any kind of emotional level when they happen. I need distance... and a lot of therapy... and then I can start down that road. For me at the time, it was just sort of a sad and surreal scene, and anyway we were all just trying to keep my mother together. 5 years later I was really, really mad. He could have said goodbye, and he didn't, and I was so mad. Would it have taken THAT MUCH out of his busy schedule? It's only recently that I've been able to say, without anger or sarcasm, that I miss them so much. That I can cry about it and not feel weird except for the fact that it's been over ten years.

    I also lost an old friend to suicide around the end of last year. I do feel some guilt there, not because I had any hand in the thing per se but because I let her asshole-of-a-whatever-he-was-by-that-point (husband? ex-husband? I really don't know) dictate our relationship, which had ended years earlier because he is a rotten husk of a human being. If I had still been friends with her I would have answered her email cries for help, which I only later found out she sent to her friends in the months before her death, and which none of them took seriously.

    I guess the main thing I have to offer from all this is that suicide leaves a lot of anger in its wake. The sadness will come and go, and maybe it will come and go in a cycle that lasts years, but the anger... that is the destructive part that you will need to figure out how to deal with. I recommend grief counseling of some kind. It doesn't matter who you're angry at.. you, him, his parents, his biology; that anger is what is going to eat at you.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    Realize that there isn't anyone in the world who can keep up and care about all the bad things equally. It's not just a matter of time but also of energy. Everyone picks and chooses their priorities. Sometimes there's some things you neglected that might end in disaster. But hindsight is 20/20. There may not even have been that perfect thing you could say or do that would help him cope. Focus on the good times you had together. Don't let this last thing define your entire relationship.

    Siska on
    Izuela.png
  • RocketSauceRocketSauce Registered User regular
    I personally don't think it's healthy or worthwhile to think of all the things you could've done differently. You can't change the past, and people tend to internalize other people's problems and over-estimate their roles in other people's lives. I think the only good case for doing something like that is with a professional who can go through them with you, help resolve lingering issues and guide you safely.

    Having been around a lot (hundreds?) of suicidal individuals and their families, I can say that it affects everyone involved, and differently. It's completely normal to question your actions, what you could do better, and how you can keep them safe. There's no right or wrong answer, because you could spend a lifetime devoting yourself to keeping a loved-one safe, physically and emotionally chained to them, and they still may wish to end their life. The individual's burden can often become everyone else's. I've seen families who have dealt with it for years, and some eventually realize that they have a right to live their own lives in a fulfilling way.
    Last November was a semester where I had chosen to take a lot of classes. I also chose to work two jobs, one twenty hours a week, another thirty. To top it off, I was in the middle of pursuing a girl that I loved. I had never been that busy before in my life, but it was by my own choice. I shifted my focus away from my family and my friends.

    This is normal. This is the story of just about every adult I've ever known.

    I'm sorry your friend chose to end his life, and I hope you can find someone to talk to so you can resolve some of the issues that are bothering you.

    JuliusCambiata
  • CambiataCambiata Commander Shepard The likes of which even GAWD has never seenRegistered User regular
    I don't know if this will help, but the emotions that come to you because of this event are not something you control. Don't worry overmuch about feeling the "wrong" thing. Try not to beat yourself up because you (say) feel guilty about feeling guilty, or if you feel guilty about not feeling guilty enough, or if you feel guilty about having a moment of happiness when you "should" feel (blank). The hardest thing for me about emotional turmoil is how I make myself feel worse because I think my feelings are somehow incorrect. (as if there could possibly be a right answer in this situation)

    Probably therapy would be a good idea for you right now.

  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    The thing you have to understand is that epilepsy fries your brain. It can often cause emotional disturbances that are beyond that persons control. Add to that a general sense of anxiety and a loss of control, and a bad history and you have a recepie for disaster.

    The other thing to realize is that situations like this, or any situation really, has momentum. Physics applies. Like a ball rolling, this course was set into motion by the totality of events. A small force in the opposite direction was not likely to be enough to change the trajectory. It was the confluence of events, and the fact is the one time you didn't answer the phone or made a poor joke or whatever is basically a nonfactor in light of everything else.

    A note to epileptics. Typically epilepsy can be eliminated or well controlled over time. It can be scary and mess with you pretty bad, but mostly people recover. And even if you can never drive again. You can always move to a city and take public transit. There is no reason to think you are a burden to anyone. It gets better and you will get better. At first I had quite a few seizures. I had many medicine changes that left me zombified. I took medicine for many years, and eventually I didn't have to take it at all. The symptoms faded, and while they told me they wouldn't say for certain I was cured, 10 years later I haven't had a seizure. This is very common. Don't give up.

    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
    CambiataMulletudeDerrickjdarksunNitsua
  • BobbleBobble Registered User regular
    I know I should get counseling, but I don't know if I could manage to say any of this while in the presence of someone else. Even just typing it made me take my hands off the keyboard a few times. And I'm sorry this is so much longer than I meant it to be. I wanted to try and keep it short.

    Talking about something like this is going to be difficult and there's nothing wrong with that. I cannot encourage you enough to find a therapist to talk to about this.

    If you tore a few ligaments in your knee, you'd go to physical therapy on a regular basis for months and you wouldn't expect to be running sprints on your second session, right? Just learning to trust the knee and put any weight on it at all would take time. This is no different. Just take the first step and go find someone to talk to. You don't have to get everything out in the first session. Find hope in the small steps of progress. First you managed to communicate your feelings on here, then you found the guts to go to therapy, then you managed to spill your guts to the therapist, etc.

    Usagi
  • DeadfallDeadfall Registered User regular
    Hey man, I've had two friends kill themselves in my lifetime.

    It'll never really make sense, and talking to a professional might help. But in the meantime, I can tell you that, for me, talking about the good things in their lives helped me immensely. My internet stranger inbox is always open if you want to unload some stories or whatever.

    BFzWh4r.png
    xbl - HowYouGetAnts
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    Shadowfire
  • VivixenneVivixenne Remember your training, and we'll get through this just fine. Registered User regular
    edited May 2014
    If you're finding it hard to talk to someone, check this link out: http://www.lifeline.org.au/ArticleDocuments/578/Survivors of Suicide Booklet.pdf.aspx

    It's a collection of stories by survivors of suicide, and while it generally speaks to the loss of a family member, I've had clients tell me it was a useful read for them in dealing with loss of friends by suicide. And being that this was your best friend, well, it's like family, hey?

    It covers an absolutely tremendous range of emotional reactions and can help normalise what you're feeling and that you will come out of this, and I really hope something in here resonates with you. It may also help you put what you're feeling into words that you can communicate to a professional.

    Though I will add that sometimes nothing needs to be said - just crying can be a marvelous expression of emotion and validation of grief, and having someone else in the room that you trust to be able to tell you that you'll honestly be okay can be an immensely therapeutic thing.

    Vivixenne on
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  • TaekoTaeko Miami, FLRegistered User regular
    edited April 2015
    This post has been removed.

    Taeko on
    ceresThe EnderHollerNitsua
  • TaekoTaeko Miami, FLRegistered User regular
    edited April 2015
    This post has been removed.

    Taeko on
  • HollerHoller Registered User regular
    edited June 2014
    I had close friend from highschool who decided to take his own life when we were both 19. Some mutual friends got really mad at him, I guess because anger is easier to feel than hurt, acceptance, forgiveness, whatever. I was one of the ones who just felt hurt and ashamed at my half of our drifting apart over the previous year, and wishing I had a time machine. When we were closer, we had even bonded over the fact that we both had suicidal fantasies and didn't see ourselves making it much past our teens, and yet we still settled into mostly-separate lives and I had done nothing to make sure he was staying on track.

    At any rate, when I went to his funeral, it was in this huge beautiful cathedral, and there were so many people there that had loved and cared about him that the event ended up being standing-room only. Everyone in that room wished that they had done something differently, somehow been able to intervene and change what happened, but no one could have. He had love in his life until the day he died (and for the rest of the lives of everyone in that room), and it just wasn't enough. When someone fully commits to killing themselves, it really isn't up for debate. You can't give help to someone who isn't interested in taking it, and is actively invested in sabotaging it. While I don't really attach anger and judgment to suicide the way a lot of people do about it being selfish, it really IS about the person committing it, and not the people around him or her. If he had given you the slightest chance, I'm sure you would have bent over backwards to make sure he got the help he needed. Unfortunately, suicidal people either don't believe it is possible for anyone to help them, or are no longer interested in receiving help, and either way he had already put you completely and utterly out of the picture when he made this decision.

    And honestly, even if someone else COULD have done something? No offense to you or your friendship, but this dude had a wife. There was someone in his life every day who, I assume, was available to him and supportive of him, and he STILL decided not to make receiving her help an option. You probably weren't, for all of your years, going to be a bigger figure in his life than the person he legally attached himself to in permanent partnership. I can't even imagine what she is going through, especially with a letter left behind that frankly places the emotional burden onto her for his personal decision. Hopefully she realizes that the "she deserves better" thing is purely a product of his own warped perspective, and not any failing on her part (no more than it was a failing on your part).

    As far as where you go from here, and what it looks like... honestly, it's mostly time. It will never not hurt, there will always be a friend-shaped hole in your life (I still burst into tears even just thinking about certain lines from certain songs). But you will adjust, and the pain will become occasional and manageable eventually. With a death so close and so traumatic, I absolutely recommend getting into therapy and having them help you sort out your feelings for the foreseeable future. At seven months in with these feelings still so strong, you should probably make that a priority.


    Also, maybe this isn't helpful, but have you made yourself available to his wife at all? Do they have a lawn that needs mowing, a garage that needs cleaning, or chinese food that needs delivering/eating in front of Netflix every couple weeks? I mean, hopefully she has a support system that is helping to take care of her right now (and also, please god, a therapist), but if you can afford this emotionally (talk to the therapist you'll be getting about it), it might help to spend some time with her. A lot of the time when people experience loss, they just get a bunch of casseroles and a couple months to sort themselves out, but the reality of losing a partner in such a traumatic way is long-term exhausting, and she might appreciate your support if you seriously offer it. I'm sure you've been working through a lot of the same feelings, and even if you don't actually talk about all that, being there for eachother might be a comfort. Plus, sometimes caring for others helps us care for ourselves (although you still need to balance it with a lot of self-care, which your therapist will help you with).

    Holler on
    Cauld
  • DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    I'm sorry if this is too heavy for a help and advice forum. I haven't talked about this with anyone in any format, not to this extent. I know I should get counseling, but I don't know if I could manage to say any of this while in the presence of someone else. Even just typing it made me take my hands off the keyboard a few times. And I'm sorry this is so much longer than I meant it to be. I wanted to try and keep it short.

    You totally should. It may feel like you don't want to talk to someone about it but going through everything with a professional stranger will help you. I mean you are already reaching out for counseling right now, in this very forum. But someone you can have a more meaningful professional dialog with would be more beneficial to you.

    @rocketscience its unavoidable. I had a friend that moved to North Dakota from Illinois, we kept in sparse contact and he would come down and stay over from time to time. But one day he decided that he no longer wanted to live. Tons of what-ifs went through my head at the time even though in reality there was no way I could have known or seen it coming or even done anything about it. There are plenty of things that I would have liked to do over. You cannot help but think of those things.

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