Monday, February 18, 2008

The Waste of Suicide

Many times after I get off work late at night, I stop in at this one store to pick up a few things before heading home. I go there often enough that I've gotten to know the clerks on a first name basis, and I'll often chat with them for a few minutes before heading on my way.

The other night, I asked about a clerk I hadn't seen in awhile, one who always had a joke or two for me when I came in and always had me leaving with a laugh.

The guy I asked hesitated, saying that he didn't want to ruin my day, but then extended a folded newspaper to me, pointing at a column near the bottom.

It was the obituary of the man I'd asked after, a man only 35 years old.

When I asked what had happened, he told me that the man had committed suicide -- on Valentine's Day. I was floored; the man was always laughing and joking, and never gave the slightest clue to the depths of depression that must have been lurking beneath. Plus, he was a devout Catholic, so I was doubly shocked that he'd chosen this method to deal with his depression.

The other clerk told me that he was worried about his mother's health -- but I don't see how killing himself would have helped her in any way. Indeed, his mother was the one who had the horror of finding his dead body.

And this man meant to die -- his suicide was in no way an attempt to cry for help. He'd used two guns to make sure he got the job done. As a former cop who had seen the remains of those who used a single gun to do away with themselves, these kind of remains are especially grisly to view. I pity his poor mother -- she will have nightmares for the rest of her life after what she was confronted with after she opened his bedroom door.

I knew the guy had some issues and I'd suspected that he was a lonely, socially backwards man, though he never spoke of it. First of all, he was living with his parents at the age of 35, and he did not drive, despite not having any physical or apparent mental handicaps that would make him unable to drive. And though I can't say for sure, I'm guessing that he never had any intimate love relationships, either straight or gay. The fact that he chose to commit suicide on Valentine's Day just seemed to confirm my speculations.

But I'd always thought his religious faith had given his life some satisfaction and meaning, but it seems as if his faith failed him in the end.

Thought I've dealt with the aftermath of suicide before in my former job in law enforcement, I've never really known anyone personally who has killed themselves, save the grandfather of a high school friend. When dealing with this kind of tragedy with strangers, one can and must detach one's emotions in order to do the job. It's rather different, when it's someone you know, to say the least.

Have any of you personally known someone who committed suicide?


KingOfAnkh said...

Quite a few of my family on my mother side have committed suicide, mostly from hanging themselves. I must admit that I could never consider such drastic action as I have always felt that things are never that bad that the world would be a better place without me living here.

You might have heard of the recent Bridgend Suicides in Wales 16 youngsters have committed suicide in the last year and as many as 27 have taken their lives over the last few years, all in a small town of 40,000 people.

transfattyacid said...

I'm not sure it is ever a 'cry for help' - I think that expression is a neat cliche to cover up the embarrassment.