General Question

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Have you ever known a suicide victim?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23988points) June 18th, 2009

If so, before they decided to end their life, were there any signs it may have been coming, when you think back?

I ask because I have a friend who is struggling very badly at the moment. I’ve talked to him, multiple times, and he says he would never do it because he knows there are people that love him and he could never hurt them.

The thing is, he’s going on a camping trip for five days or more, by himself. No one else could go with him, for varying reasons, but some of us are still going to try to show up this weekend, if we’re able to. I was talking to him, just a minute ago while he was driving to his destination, before his phone cut out. He was actually crying and he’s never done that in front of me before, no matter how down he’s been in the past.

I asked him to call me from a payphone when he got there, when he goes into the little town by the camping spot, because I’m really worried about him.

I just don’t want to be one of those people that has to say, “Why didn’t I see it coming?”. He’s a great guy, but… He’s severely depressed. :(

Edit: He also has a gun with him, and I’m positive he has alcohol. There was a time about a year ago that he got so drunk he couldn’t remember anything, but he’d been holding his gun, staring at it, bawling. Someone had gone to say “hi”, which is the only reason any of us (his closest friends) knew.

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46 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Yes, twice, once in the early seventies, then late last year. The latest was someone with very severe late stage cancer – I understand that, the first I have never understood. It was a girl who seemingly had everything going for her. I have always wondered whether it was really a suicide. I was not there when it happened, but the coroner’s finding was suicide. She was a friend, not a girlfriend.

Suicide is all about timing. The mood passes. Many people have come close, some have made genuine (as against attention getting) attempts that have failed and then gone on to lead normal lives.

rooeytoo's avatar

It doesn’t sound like a good combination. I think I would go hunting for him. Better to err on the side of caution than to regret for the rest of your life that you didn’t do anything.

Wine3213's avatar

I knew a guy in high school that was usually a “happy-go-lucky” guy. He was really close to his father. The only thing was, he was gay, and never told his dad. Well, he finally got the courage to tell him. His father didn’t take it so well. The kid rapidly went into depression, and wound up hanging himself.

I also knew a girl who tried to leave her possesive boyfriend. He killed her, then himself.

About your situation….. It sounds like he shouldn’t be alone, in the state he’s in.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I’ve known two.
One guy wandered off into the wilderness while camping and died of exposure.
The other was my ex boss who hung himself from a tree on his property.

If you think he is a danger to himself, you should consider calling the police.
If he has a gun, it’s unwise to go after him especially if he’s prone to blackouts when drinking.

Jeruba's avatar

There’s plenty of cause for concern in your story. Can you get him to agree to phone you at predetermined times? He must know you’re worried.

Bobbydavid's avatar

Aren’t the people left behind the real victims in a suicide?
Yes, the one who commits suicide has obviously stupendous reasons for killing themself but once dead who has to carry on with their life?

aprilsimnel's avatar

If you know where he’s going, then yes, by all means get some others, contact the law enforcement in the town near the campsite and find him.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Many times one simply cannot know that someone is going to commit suicide. Wondering “how did I miss the signs” is just a way of punishing oneself for a tragedy they rarely had any part in. It’s also very true that even for people who have talked about suicide we cannot always stop them from committing it, no matter how hard we try.

Having said those things it is great that you are continuing to keep an eye on your friend and show concern for him. That is just very fantastic and I’m sure it is quite helpful. It shouldn’t be a secret that you are going to check on him while he’s out there (i’m not sure if it is). If he knows you’ll be out there, despite his protests, and if he is planning something then maybe he will think twice. Saying you are going out there can’t cause more problems. If he does do it then you weren’t the cause by saying so, he was going to do it no matter what.

It is also very important to note that talking about suicide does not cause suicide.

The suicide seminar lecturer discussed the following information: people do not stop themselves from commiting suicide because of fear what their loved ones will lose. So this reasoning your friend is using is not a real detterent to commiting suicide. It is helpful and that’s fantastic but I wouldn’t take that statement at face value.

Also realize that sometimes when people have finally determined that they will commit suicide they become happier. So if he suddenty becomes happier then be on even more alert vs. assuming he is getting better.

What are the signs of suicide possibillity?
– Depression
– Recent Trauma/Life Change
– Previous attempts or talk about committing suicide
– (there are others but these are the major ones)

If he is going to do it then you can’t stop him. But you can do your best to let him know you love and support him. That you are there to listen. That you will help him find a way out of his pain. What can help is this: Find a way to release some stress from his life (perhaps figuring out finances etc…) even if it’s not directly related to why he’s depressed. People respond to this.

If you are seriously concerned I would suggest calling the hotline:

I do not have personal experience. I do have counseling training and suicide is covered. Just went to a suicide seminar last month. That does not make me an expert by any means, just thought some of this information may be helpful
And sorry for the spelling errors, my spell-check is broken

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Everyone I’m going to try to go out there tonight or tomorrow. It’s better safe than sorry.

Edit: Okay, tonight is out. But early tomorrow may not be.

jdogg's avatar

Yes. About 2 months ago a boy at the elementary school did it by accident, a month later a girl that I met also committed suicide and I still feel terrible for both families and to the older brother of the boy because the older brother was like best friends with the girl at our highschool. It’s scary and you promise yourself no matter how bad it gets, it never is that bad. My answer to your question is STICK TO HIM! if you can be with all the time. I’d have someway to call help if needed and have a friend or family of his available so he can talk to them if necessary. That’s all I know to do. Be careful, good luck and my prayers to him and you.

MacBean's avatar

To answer the main question: Yes, several, but I’d rather not go into details at the moment. I just want to follow the question for updates about your friend and I can’t get the “Follow this question” link to work for me.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Yes, I have known several people who have committed suicide, including my father.

Given your description, remote camping/guns/alcohol/uncontrollable emotions are a dangerous combination.

janbb's avatar

Yes, and yes there were signs but it was still a shock. I would go out there with friends.

Bobbilynn's avatar

I would go no matter what! He seems important to you, so you should go!

sap82's avatar

A friend of mine tried to a few months ago. He failed, though. I am pretty sure he was just wanting attention. Otherwise, I am sure he wouldn’t have failed. However, I am very glad he did not succeed. He has a lot of potential for life. He is a great guy, just had a rough past (drugs, alcohol, fireworks, etc.)

evolverevolve's avatar

For some reason suicide is very interesting to me. I have two crazy stories, a friend of a friend type deal. One, she walked into her house, her brother was sitting in the chair and said “hey, check this out” and put a shotgun in his mouth and blew his head off. the other, a dad was chasing his son through the woods after a huge argument the kid then jumped into a frozen river, the dad just came upon a hole in the ice, he had stripped off his clothes and jumped, very strange.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I know that I’ve turned some people away from suicide (and aren’t we all at risk) but the one person I know that committed suicide, well, I was too young to ‘watch out for signs’ – still a teenager, not knowing death – he was a close friend of my best friend

atlantis's avatar

I knew a history teacher of mine who committed suicide. And the days before, he’d just be in the principal’s office asking for a raise. (We found out later on that that was what the issue was)

He was financially stressed and he found out that he had a disease for which their family would not be able to pay. He had two little girls and a toddler son. His wife was a doctor. He hung himself from the fan.

You should register your friend up for therapy and a really busy hobby. And never, ever leave him alone. The people who threaten to commit suicide, even if they do it just for attention, will make fatal to near-fatal attempts. That’s a fact.

Considering the mental history of your friend, you should get him more engaged in everyday routine like with friends and family.

Bri_L's avatar

Good choice. I would always err on the side of caution.

I had a friend/co-worker who I was worried about one day. I kept asking him what was up are you ok. Finally, when we were alone I stopped him and looked him in the eye and said “XXX, is everything alright? Do you need to talk? Do you want to go and get a bite to eat or something?” He said “no”

He hung himself outside the building that night.

He left a note for various people and I was one. It said not to blame myself. That by that time he had made up his mind and it thanked me for always being a good friend and not judging him.

It was very, very difficult.

Fieryspoon's avatar

A friend of mine jumped off a bridge last year. I saw it coming, as did everyone who knew him, but we couldn’t do anything to stop it. He had been in and out of clinics for years and had attempted suicide a number of times before.

It was terrible.

Supacase's avatar

You are not missing the signs. You obviously see them because you wrote about them. Someone who cares about him should make it a priority to be with him. If it means taking vacation from work, canceling other plans – whatever. No matter how important something else looks right now, everyone who loves him would give it up in a heartbeat in hindsight if they end up losing him.

I knew one guy in middle school. He hung himself in the woods behind his house and his little brother found him.

wundayatta's avatar

I know a lot of people who are at elevated risk for suicide. We are in a group together, and we are helping each other. We’ve helped each other identify when we are going up or down, and to stay on our meds. So far, no one has committed suicide. I worry about it sometimes, because when someone doesn’t show up for a meeting, you wonder if that’s because they aren’t doing well. I think most of them know when to check themselves into a hospital, though.

I sometimes tell them to call me if they are in trouble, but when one of them did, I didn’t really know what to do. I talked to her a bit, and gave her the number of our group leader, and she ended up getting help and calmed down, and seems more stable now.

We can talk directly about it. We don’t have to pussyfoot around, because we all know we are in danger. That is really helpful, because we can tell each other the truth, and we know we are understood, because every single one of us has been there. It’s hard for me to talk about, and it makes me really sad.

I have no advice to give, I’m afraid. I know that him saying that he won’t do it, and that he stared at the gun a long time, but didn’t do it are signs that he’s not ready, yet, but that doesn’t mean he might not tip over after a while of being alone in the woods. I’m glad you’re going, but I would also call the suicide line and ask for advice or help or whatever.

If someone goes into the woods to do it, they know there won’t be a as much of a mess for people to clean up, and there’s a good chance that it won’t be someone they know who finds you. This scares me. But then, a lot of things scare me that turn out not to be problems. So I never know when to pay attention to my feeling. I feel bad for you, DD.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@daloon it is great that you have this group

icehky06's avatar

A friend of mine swallowed a whole bottle of pills then drenched herself in some fluid (I forget what its called) and then lit herself on fire. Her funeral was today

chyna's avatar

If you can’t get there tonight, get someone to go now. Tomorrow may be too late and you will never get it back. I know from experience. Please get someone there.

Bri_L's avatar

@icehky06 – I am very very sorry.

Darwin's avatar

I have known two people who successfully committed suicide. I didn’t see the signs beforehand, but in hindsight there were clues that I simply didn’t pick up. I also have a son who has actually tried to kill himself twice, and who thinks about it off and on, so I watch him very carefully.

I would say that you need to get your friend to not go on his camping trip right now, until someone can go with him. You also need to see if you can find some way to talk him into therapy, or a support group, or just telling his doctor.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

This is an interesting article.. It runs in my family: father, grandfather, great-grandfather.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Can you tell us your friend is okay? I keep checking back to hear that news.

rooeytoo's avatar

@PandoraBoxx – I have noticed that also, but I think that in most people’s heads it is an abstract theory but when it happens to someone close to you, it becomes a viable alternative, no longer a theory. Therefore runs in families or among friends.

Strauss's avatar

@icehky06, I’m very sorry for your loss.

I used to volunteer for a crisis-intervention hotline, and one of the things we were trained for was suicide calls. I came to the conclusion that statistically, most callers talking about suicide were not really suicidal, but were looking for alternatives. This is not to minimize the very real risk of the truly suicidal who would call wanting a way out of their situation.

Being involved in heavily emotional issues, we became a very close-knit group. One of our fellow volunteers was in the office one day, and wrote a self-deprecating note on a blackboard, left for lunch, and never returned. She was found later that afternoon, with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, in a field near her house, with her boyfriend’s gun.

There were many emotions swirlling around the group that day and the next few days. First the shock and grief as expected when anyone close dies unexpectedly; then the group self-doubt; how could we who were trained to prevent this, not see the signs in one of our own! There was a lot of peer counseling in that center, as we dealt with grief, guilt, and a gamut of emotions.

Years later, after the crisis line had closed down due to lack of finance, her boyfriend was indicted for two other murders, and the police reopened her case, and determined he was responsible for her murder as well. He is currently a fugitive from justice and has appeared on America’s Most Wanted several times.

I guess now, after over 30 years, I am just now dealing with it. I could not stop the tears while I was typing this. It makes me angry!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Yetanotheruser I am so sorry you had to go through that. It’s shocking to say the least, and I hope that you’re able to come to terms with it. Thank you for sharing, truly.

@Everyone He left the night I posted this and there’s no way that anyone can get down there. I would go myself, but I don’t have a car right now and can’t borrow one. I wouldn’t even be able to find the place if I left on my own, because it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. Before his phone cut out on the way there, I asked him to call me from a payphone, but I haven’t heard from him so far. The earliest anyone can get down there is Tuesday, but hopefully I’ll hear from him before that.

Strauss's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I’m hopeful that the solitude will help your friend straighten his thoughts out. Maybe he used the alcohol to deaden the pain he’s feeling. Please keep us updated.

chyna's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Hopefully that is what your friend needs, just some time to get away and think. You seem to be a good friend to be so worried about him. When you do see him again, tell him how much you care, it never hurts to tell someone you love them over and over if it’s true.

juwhite1's avatar

Very frequently, when suicidal people finally make their plans, they get in a very good mood and become energetic just prior to killing themselves… It is an excitement about knowing they are finally ending it all, and is much more scary than someone who is lethargic and down. While not all people do this, I’d certainly watch out for it, because the majority of suicides that seemed to “come out of nowhere” share this behavior pattern. Getting away to sort things through seems more like someone who really needs to get a break and have some time to sift through issues… something they only need to do if they plan to keep on living, but you never know! At any rate, if someone is going to kill themselves, and they are bound and determined to do that, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop them in the long run. At least you can do some “patch work” by having them committed when they make tangible suicidal threats, and trying to be there for them when they are struggling. I’d just caution anyone against feeling they are personally responsible for heading this off, because then, when they do kill themselves, your grief is compounded by guilt that is not appropriate for the reality of the situation.

lillycoyote's avatar

A friend of ours from college committed suicide last year. He was going through a very nasty divorce but never in a million years would we have expected this from him. It came as a complete shock. There are other people I know who have been wrestling with their personal demons for years and if one of those people killed themselves I would not necessarily have been as shocked as I was by our friend’s suicide.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

What concerns me is this potentially suicidal person walking around with a loaded gun. In this state, he’s a danger to more people than just himself.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@DrasticDreamer please let us know when you find out he is okay

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Everyone He got back into town a couple days ago, so all is well in that regard. He’s still extremely depressed and I can’t get him to talk to me, which isn’t usual, so I’m still a little worried. But, I’m forcing him to hang out with me tomorrow, whether he wants to or not.

I truly appreciate the time all of you took to answer this question. Thank you.

RedPowerLady's avatar

thanx for the update

Darwin's avatar

Glad he is back in one piece. Hope the forced hanging out will get him to open up.

vegelizabeth's avatar

My sophmore year in highschool, about 2 and a half years ago, my very, very good friend Todd committed suicide. I can’t say at all at that time i really actually saw it coming, but now that i look back there was certainly signs. I don’t blame myself for him doing what he did, i blame myself for not trying to talk him or to really be there for him when he needed someone. He was an amazing person and is very missed to this day, i don’t think he really realized how many people really did love and care for him. We have had candle lighting’s in remembrance for him every year since his death on June 10th (the day he entered heaven).

R.I.P Todd Donahue :

Also, @DrasticDreamer – you are truly an amazing person and friend to stick by him and continuously be there for him ! It will all be okay in the end, just continue to do what your doing! :)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Yes, a co-worker of mine killed himself about 15 years ago. He had been depressed for a long time and medications did no good. Some believe that he killed himself so his family could get his life insurance.

Cruiser's avatar

Yes, way too many lives cut short. Only one out of four I think of where I could have predicted there was trouble in his life for him to end it. The others were pretty sudden and unexpected.

Winters's avatar

Yes, within the last month, my mentor became extremely depressed and went off and drowned himself

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My step-son committed suicide at age 17. His dad and I married when he was about 11, and I became very close to him although he lived with his mother. He was a happy-go-lucky kid and seemed very mellow to me. He was always joking and a real delight. However, I know he was in a behavior-disordered class at school so I guess there were things about him that I didn’t see. He and his mom clashed sometimes. As far as when he did it – he went to a family BBQ with his brother (his mother’s side of the family) and I guess got really drunk. Then his brother got mad at him and took him home and told him to sleep it off. His mom was out of town, his step-dad and brother were watching videos downstairs and they banished him upstairs because he was being beligerant. Anyways, I guess he was drunk and mad and that’s not a good combination. I am pretty sure his decision was not a result of a long-standing depression and I doubt he ever had suicidal thoughts before. I think he just made a spur-of-the-moment rash decision that cost him his life.

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