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hug_of_war's avatar

How do you deal with suicide?

Asked by hug_of_war (10725points) September 13th, 2014 from iPhone

My only friend, and my ex of four years killed himself. I would like to hear how you dealt with the suicide of someone you were close to. I was already struggling but this is a lot to deal with. Please help.

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27 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Hey come on. I’ve considered it. But it’s going to inflict all kinds of pain on my loved ones. I can’t do that to them. That’s my reason for not doing it. Chickenshit as it is, that’s my reason.

KNOWITALL's avatar

THe act itself makes me believe things were too hopeless. I cried & let it go, whats done is done. It’s a selfish act.

janbb's avatar

I think it’s an act of great desperation and I’m sorry for the pain of those who commit it. But I try not to wallow in guilt or what-ifs. Very often no-one can save another person, we can only save ourselves. Grieve but don’t beat yourself up.

hug_of_war's avatar

I don’t think he was selfish at all, I just think he was too sick. I knew things were bad, but if I had known how bad things were, I would have insisted he go to the ER or I would have called 911. I feel guilt because usually he calls me on Wednesdays, but he said he wasn’t feeling up to it that day (which isn’t that weird for him) and now I feel very guilty. I should have called him. I was the last person he had contact with.

He wrote a suicide note and he told me specifically that he was sorry. It hurts a lot to know maybe I could have known if I had just called him.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Hugofwar But would he want you to beat yourself up? No. If he was sick, it was his choice & understandable.

janbb's avatar

No – I don’t think it’s selfish and as I said above, I don’t think anyone can save someone once they have decided. So let yourself off the hook but do get some help for yourself.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I used to work as first medic for the local ambulance service. I covered the 11pm to 6 AM shift Sunday night to Monday morning. That day suited me better than any other .Why? Because Fri and Saturday nights were drunks and I loathed drunks. Mon -Thursday nights were mostly car accidents and illnesses involving people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sunday night was different. It was known for suicides. And that was where I felt I could make the most difference.
When women contemplated it they would call their friends, or family, or neighbors and one of them would usually call us in a panic. We’d fly there, screaming down the road as fast as we could go. We’d shut off lights and siren about a mile or two from the house so we could sneak up on it and ring the doorbell. The woman always answered and we would talk. One of the team would be secretly calling to arrange childcare from a parent or trusted neighbor. Then we would take her in with her consent.

When men contemplated it, they did it. We were always there well after the fact. There was never a chance of dissuading them nor having them change their mind. Decision. Made.
He decided and you were never able to stop it. That is why he didn’t call.

I’ll give you some advice that you will find impossible to follow: Don’t feel guilty. You were not the cause nor could you have stopped it in any way.

Think about the last time you flew and recall what the flight attendant said during the safety announcement: “Put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.” Did you ever wonder why? It is because you can’t help anyone if you are incapacitated. You take care of yourself first so you can help others later. And your career puts you in the perfect position to help others later.
It is time to grab your own oxygen mask.
Breathe… just, breathe…


Araphel's avatar

Sense it was a suicide and you being as close as you were with that person, your always left with the feeling of WHY? And when that happens the feeling is usually followed by guilt which eats at you. Next thing you know is that it begins to interfere with your daily life.The way I delt with it is through art, writing poems, just being artistic in some way shape or form helps me at times. My ex committed suicide a few yrs back and it happened two days before Xmas, due to that the Holidays are abit gloomy for me, I found a note he had written and he left it on the bed along with thw clothing he picked out for his own Funeral, I just lost it completely. Maybe you should try that, or talking with a close Family member who can tell you more about that persons past to help fill in the blanks. Surrounding yourself more with people who care can make a big difference too. Not for nothing but the thought of this act has crossed my mind and the hurt that was bestowed upon my heart and mind was something I’d NEVER want my Family and friends to feel, it takes a bigger person to face it and deal with it properly, than to just leave this World in such a way and take pieces of those who are dear to you and leaving them hurt and confused. Best of luck to you dear, also please feel free to write me if you need to vent. (((Hugs)))

wildpotato's avatar

One of my best friends killed herself three years ago. Dealing with it has been a long process.

At first it was impossible to do anything but dwell on it, and cry, and try to regain the ability to breathe. We got out of town for a weekend, and that helped a bit. A few months later we attended her memorial, which was really difficult. But it was good to visit with everyone else who knew her, and again that helped a little.

Then came a long period of shutting away everything that reminded me of her. Hearing her favorite songs, finding photos of stuff we did together, or an old letter – stuff like that would break through and reawaken the grief, but the rest of the time I felt normalish.

More recently – maybe the last six months or so – it’s been easier for some reason to remember her without pain. I can encounter mementos of her with more of a feeling of fondness than grief. The biggest step forward is that I’ve found myself starting to think about her as sort of a non-present presence, for me. For example, I’ll take a hike and think to myself that she would’ve really liked taking this hike with me today, or that I would love to send her some of the first clip I’ll get off my new fiber goat next month (we learned fiber arts together), or that I’m in a predicament or a new situation and want her advice and try to imagine what she’d say. And even though it will always be the worst thing in the world that she won’t ever be able to experience anything ever again, it’s a little less bad because I can sort of bring her along in my head on these little mental journeys. I get to play out a fantasy where she’s still with me, and it’s very slowly becoming less and less painful to do so.

What I still have the most trouble with is how she killed herself – which was just horrible – and with some of the actions she took leading up to her suicide. I don’t recognize my friend, the person I knew, in those acts. And I know it’s going to take a long time to come to terms with these things, if ever.

What makes that ok, and what has made the whole terrible process bearable, is the other people in our little group of friends. It has been hard at times to not shut down and push them away – not only because that is a natural reaction to trauma but also because these people are themselves mementos of her, and it has been so painful to stir up the memories. But going through it with them, talking and hugging and crying and hitting the same wall of incomprehension and just reassuring each other that we’re all feeling kind of crazy but are still here for each other and aren’t going anywhere – this is what has allowed me to begin to deal with her suicide in a non-destructive way. She wouldn’t have wanted us to just grieve endlessly; we owe it to her to try to remember her with gladness. She would have loved the misty rain we had around my home today.

Araphel's avatar

When I said try that, I was meaning releasing your emotions through being artistic. Sorry for the mess up.

ibstubro's avatar

Fuck suicide.
It was my mom’s threat when I was a kid, and we spent many hours looking for her. I think she’s now around 80 and isolated.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m sorry you’re going through this. My sister attempted suicide but it was a fairly feeble attempt thank goodness. I remember feeling quite helpless because I didn’t know what to do or where to get her help. She saw a psychiatrist but she was very clever and (imo) pulled the wool over his eyes about what was going on in her life. I hope things have improved since then but I doubt they have. There was little support or advice for people and families trying to respond to those who have shown themselves to be suicidal.

As @LuckyGuy wrote, don’t feel guilty. If your friend was serious about taking his own life, he would have found a way to do it regardless of anything you did to prevent him. I really do believe this. People who are serious about ending their lives will find a way. As you have said yourself, he was sick. Rather than focusing on the fact that he committed suicide and thoughts that you could have prevented him doing that, focus on the fact that he was unwell. Forgive him and yourself. You did not cause his pain and you could not have taken his pain away.

If you find you are having difficulty moving on, try to access some grief counselling.

Brie's avatar

I’ve never been personally affected by it, Thank God, but I presume one day I will be.

We had a kid at my school shoot himself over a girl along with changes in his life that he couldn’t deal with. Basically, a lot of hard things at once.

A lot of kids were upset by it even if they didn’t know him because suddenly life wasn’t a big joke and their actions had consequences (they seemed to forget this a month later as they were back to verbally assaulting one another).

I was a little disturbed just by the fact that someone I saw in the halls could just be suddenly not be there.

One teacher gave advice and said not to dwindle on it. Don’t think about things you did and didn’t do or should have done or things you wanted to say. Don’t feel bad if tomorrow you laugh at a joke in the wake of his death. Don’t feel bad if you’re happy when you know he was suffering. Be satisfied to just have known him.

Araphel's avatar

Also when it comes to things of this nature, there’s always more going on than we already are aware of. Sad but true.

gailcalled's avatar

The short version: My father shot himself when I was in my early 40’s. Since he was very ill and had threatened to do just that, I did some intervening (and secretly believed he was just making noise.)

When he finally did it, in an organized and calculating way, I was left with not guilt but rage. It took a long time for that to dissipate. I was also very very angry at my mother, whom I believed, was a subtle accomplice, since she was not, by nature, a good care giver for someone in very grave straits. I’ll never be sure about that. And now it no longer matters.

I finally went into serious talk therapy for several years.

hug_of_war's avatar

The shock is starting to wear off, and now I’m left with a pain so severe there are no words to describe how deeply it is lodged in my heart

gailcalled's avatar

Grief is physical; it can feel as though you are being disemboweled. That takes a long, long time to become less intense. And the indifferent world goes on as though nothing had happened.

In his great poem Musée des Beaux Arts, W.H. Auden says,

“About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;”

Poem was inspired by this painting of Pieter Bruegel the Elder; Icarus

janbb's avatar

@hug_of_war Grief is physical, as @gailcalled says and you must learn how to nurture yourself through it to survive it. I suffered a great loss three years ago and another last spring and while the pain doesn’t disappear, you grow protective tissue around the wounds. I’m glad you’re talking to us and hope you also find some counseling help soon. (Try some of the resources @gailcalled listed or the counseling department tomorrow at OU.)

hug_of_war's avatar

I am going to the counseling office tomorrow. I’m also going to go up for the funeral the day before and stay with his parents. It’s been hard since we lived far apart and nobody here knows him so talking to his mom and sister is comforting. We were the people who really knew him, not my own family.

janbb's avatar

@hug_of_war Sound like good plans!

longgone's avatar

A good friend committed suicide just over a year ago. It’s different for everyone – but I, personally, was shocked, then angry…then sad, confused and scared…angry again, depressed for a while, and right now, I’m more or less okay.

I had expected to feel shocked, angry, sad and confused. I was surprised by feeling scared. I think, subconsciously, I was expecting other people to just vanish. Like he did. I also wasn’t expecting to get depressed, but I think I was, for a while. I let my apartment turn very messy, and I felt like two very good friends were uninterested in me. Which I now don’t think they ever were, just busy with their own lives.

I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I’d recommend treating yourself really, really well. If you feel sad, acknowledge that. Anger will probably come at some point, which is fine as well. If you end up feeling scared for a while, see that emotion. Don’t ignore yourself. Try to look at your feelings from a psychologist’s perspective for a while. I gave myself hardly any time at all – a month after it happened, I was beating myself up for “still” feeling sad because I thought I was ruining my friends’ vacation. In retrospect, that seems insane.

If there had been any part of him that wanted to stay alive, he would have called you. You did nothing wrong – you were, obviously, a great friend to this guy while he was alive. That’s what matters.

A year after it happened, I’m feeling much better than I thought I would. You will, too. Hugs.

rojo's avatar

@hug_of_war I do not have personal experience to draw from but I asked my son. His best friend in high school hung himself in the backyard.

I wish I could tell you that it will all be ok but according to him it is not that kind of hurt. He says that even now, sixteen years later, he still struggles with the guilt. He says that even though intellectually he knows it was not his fault, emotionally he still can’t let it go.
He did say to tell you that “I know it sounds cliche but it does get better. It doesn’t go away, you just learn to deal with it and keep on going.” And that is what he has done. Accepted what happened, learned to deal with the sorrow and hold his friend close to his heart for all these years.

From time to time he has shared his experience with others who are going through the same thing; commiserated, held their hand, given them a shoulder to cry on and the sympathetic ear of one who knows exactly what they are going through. Fortunately these folks are few and far between because it takes a lot out of him. He does say that he thinks it helps him as much as it does them so, as he is fond of saying, “It’s all good”.

So ,that is the best I can do; tell you that you will go on with your life, you will still have the pain but you will learn to handle it and someday, when you have the chance to help someone else, pass on what you have learned over the years.

Coloma's avatar

I think suicide does leave a scar on the surviving loved ones, however, I also think it is a personal choice, and the real tragedy is that people have no choice but to do themselves in under a veil of secrecy because being able to openly discuss ones desire to be done with their worldly spin is not acceptable. I do not believe it is a selfish act, what IS “selfish” are others that seem to feel someone should continue to suffer in whatever manner they are suffering in, be that mental, emotional, physical, financial, simply to save others from the pain of loss.
I think it is entirely possible to make a decision to be done without the stigma of mental illness.

One can make a conscious choice and until we de-stigmatize and accept it is a persons right to determine when they are done with life the pain of secret suicide will prevail.
My body, my life, my choice.
The real selfishness of suicide lies not in the individuals act, it lies with those that cannot handle and honor anothers choice to be done, to exit this worldly zone under their own volition and free will.

We would never consider keeping our pets alive to suffer, why should it be any different for humans?
It is the individuals choice to determine their own quality of life and others have no right to insist someone keep living when there is no longer any joy, comfort, or hope.
In an ideal world the person would be able to share their desire to exit, spend loving quality time with their friends and family and then be free to let go allowing peace of mind for all involved.

rojo's avatar

@Coloma I agree that suicide should be an option in many cases and it is, or rather should be, the choice of the individual.

I think that if someone says, “I’m through” and those who will be left behind become part of the decision or at least have the opportunity to have their say (even if what they say is only goodbye) and come to grips with it then there would be less pain, suffering, guilt, whatever, on those who remain. It is the not knowing what or why or the wondering if there was something that they could have done or seen that causes a large part of the pain.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I think your feelings toward that person will affect how strongly their death affects you. My daughter committed suicide in March. We were never particularly close so it didn’t affect me as greatly as it has most of my family. Some of them still have a difficult time healing.

Then again, your views about death influence you immensely. I don’t fear death or see it as this terrible ending. So though I miss my wife (who died of cancer last September) and my daughter, it’s difficult for me to feel really distraught over their passing.

Death of a loved one is never easy to handle. The circumstances relating to their death can cause even greater grief. All I can suggest is continue seeking guidance from wherever…whoever you can to assist you through the grieving process.

Article about my daughter

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@hug_of_war When my best friend, Tigh, committed suicide, it left a hole in me for years. No one could fill it, I became horribly depressed myself, and there were a lot of days I didn’t care about making it out of it at all. Just last month or so, I took a drive with someone in the mountains and I suddenly had a flashback of when me and Tigh took a drive through the mountains, and all of the sudden I was crying uncontrollably. It wasn’t creeping up on me, it just hit me out of nowhere. When you love someone that much, the pain never completely goes away – but try to let that pain be a testament to how much love for him you had, which he did know, despite what happened.

I carried guilt with me, for a very long time, because I knew no one was as close to him as I was. Because of that, as I imagine is the case with you… there’s a gnawing, nagging voice that never would have expected anyone but us to notice that something was that wrong. But even so… There’s really, truly nothing we could have done. I didn’t get to talk to Tigh before it happened either, but after his suicide, I recalled a phone call he made to me about a week prior. He told me that he loved me, and thanked me for being in his life, because had I not been, he wouldn’t have even made it as far as he did. Now? I’m convinced it was his way of saying goodbye and thank you, without tipping me off, because he knew I would do everything in my power to stop him, and he had already made up his mind.

That’s why a lot of people tend to leave notes. Their minds have been made up, so they say everything they need to after the fact, because they don’t want anyone to stop them. And he was sick, like you know. So was Tigh. They were struggling and fighting for a really long time and they they got too tired before things got better. It wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t my fault, it isn’t anyone’s fault.

So how did I deal with it? Since it was so close to Christmas, I made an ornament that looked like him, dressed in his favorite outfit. A week prior to Christmas, this year, will be five years since he left and the ornament goes up every year. It’s a small gesture, and it’s definitely bittersweet when I hang the ornament, but it’s my way of trying to remember him and not his death. Other than that? I didn’t deal with it, for a very long time, and it almost destroyed me.

Try not to be how I was. Thinking about him became so detrimental that some part of my brain knew that even dreams of him were destroying me. In one of the last dreams I had of him, I was going on quests to find him. Into the sky, forests, caves, buildings, deserts, oceans. Eventually, I found him in a small building in the middle of nowhere. But the moment I was inside, metal slammed down on all of the windows, blocking out the light. The doors had thick bars slide across them. The lights went out, all but where Tigh was standing, and he was so sad. I was ecstatic, because there he was. I grabbed his hand and tried to leave the building, but I was trapped. My phone didn’t work, so I couldn’t call for help. When Tigh turned me to him, he just shook his head, slowly, as if to say “No”. He gave me one of his big bear hugs, then turned his back on me and walked away. The metal slid up from the windows, the lights came back on, the door unlocked. That was the last dream I have ever had of him. No matter how much I try sometimes, night after night, the dreams will not come anymore.

Letting him go, in a way, is the only way that I could continue to live. Otherwise? I was chasing a ghost, and I may as well have died with him. But I can’t do that… There’s life I want to experience, and there are people who really want me and need me around. Losing him was one of the hardest experiences of my life, and my life hasn’t been easy. Grieve freely, let yourself express the undying love you had for him, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. A counselor, which is something I refused, is a good move on your part.

Unfortunately, and definitely not on purpose, people who haven’t experienced losing someone extremely close to suicide can mess up and say some things that they really shouldn’t. Which is why my offer is still on the table; You can talk to me whenever you want, about whatever you want. I know your pain, I respect it, and this isn’t just a random person making a random gesture of kindness. I will be here for you, in whatever ways I can be, if you need someone.

longgone's avatar

^ Lovely post.

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