Forty-one years ago, just a week after my dad killed himself, his best buddy arrived on our doorstep to repossess a portrait he’d painted of my father.  Howard handed me a toy football, took the painting from the wall, and walked out of our lives.  In 2006, after years of searching for Howard and the painting, I found Howard’s phone number and called.  I identified myself as Irwin’s son and without hesitating Howard responded, “I was very mad at your mother.”

I was reminded of this moment yesterday while reading a New Yorker article about the suicide of gay college student Tyler Clementi and his roommate, Dharun Ravi, who is soon to go on trial for charges relating to his activities that many have claimed pushed Tyler to his death.  The article is so exquisitely reported by Ian Parker that there’s no need to recount the story here, but the wish of those left behind to assign blame figures prominently.  And how could it not?

In the aftermath of almost every suicide, my dad’s included, we inevitably look for reasons why our loved one chose—however irrationally—to die.  In my dad’s case, my mom was a natural blame target because she asked him to move out shortly after he was discharged from a psychiatric hospital.  From where I sit now, I can see why she chose that moment.  For my dad’s family, it was easy to link my mom’s actions almost directly to his death.  At a vulnerable moment she threw him out on the street.  Two years later, living alone in a rooming house, pining for his three young children, depressed and bereft, longing for the life that was no longer his, he took an overdose and left his loved ones bereft, depressed, and in search of someone to blame.

I’m guilty of assigning blame, too.  I blamed the Veterans Administration (now called the Department of Veteran Affairs) for not doing a better job of treating my dad’s mental illness.  I blamed my uncle for not letting my dad continue to live with his family after my mother asked him to leave.  I blamed my grandparents for nothing specific, but surely they failed to do something they should have done or my dad wouldn’t be dead.  And when I allowed myself, I blamed my mother, but she was all that stood between me and the orphanage, so I rarely included her on the list.

The one person I never thought to blame, at least until I’d had years of therapy, was my dad.  He had suffered.  He was dead.  How could I blame him?  But he did it.  Not my mother.  Not my uncle.  Not my grandparents.  Not the VA.  And not his friends, including Howard, who knew that my father was contemplating suicide.

Looking back, it’s impossible not to think that everyone could have done a better job of saving my dad.  So in that regard, everyone was to blame.  But none of them forced my dad to take his life.  Just as no one forced Tyler Clementi to take his.  Perhaps Tyler felt humiliated by the insensitive and foolish actions of his roommate, Dharun Ravi, but it was Tyler who went to the George Washington Bridge with the intention of ending his life.  No one but Tyler knows how Dharun may or may not have contributed to his decision to die, but Dharun is not to blame.

The rush to assign blame in the aftermath of my dad’s suicide was perhaps more damaging than my dad’s death.  It blew apart family ties and old friendships and left me even more isolated in the months and years that followed than if my dad had died a natural death.  I’ve come to think that the suicide blame game is one where we all lose.

 

 

 

49 Responses to The Blame Game: Dharun Ravi & Tyler Clementi

  1. Thank you for this website. I’ve come across it several times, because sometimes I just google ‘suicide’ out of desperation to understand my husband’s suicide. He shot himself in the garage at the age of 41, this past July. We have three young sons, ages 10, 5 and 2. I’ve been blogging to ease the pain and sort of get it out…many people have commented that my words would surely stop someone thinking about suicide in their tracks.

    • Kari says:

      Bless your heart, I can’t begin to imagine! I admire your will to learn and your strength to carry on. May you find comfort and piece of mind.

  2. Kelsie Gale says:

    I am glad I found your blog. I’ve been searching for something like this. My brother hung himself on Jan 5, 2012. He was 25. I miss him so much. I have been going through a point where I do blame certain people, even myself, wondering what I could have done differently, wishing I was awake to stop him. I agree that blaming people can be even more damaging, It’s getting a little better but I still have resentment against certain people, but I don’t want it to break up the family I have left. I don’t want to be so busy focusing on my anger when I still have important people in my life. I just want to remember my brother. I really want to get involved in the prevention of suicide, but I don’t know where to start.
    Thank You for creating this blog
    -Kelsie

    • Karen Julius says:

      Hi! Kelsie! This last August,August 1st my oldes and dearest grandson hanged himself, I am still reeling from it, it feels like my life is over, I am totally ruining my life because of the guilt, I raised my grandson, and I thought I showed all the love and support he could possibly want, but in the end he ended his life, left a family a very large family who all loved him very much, he had more friends then any one person should have, so why did he take his life. That is what I can’t understand.

    • Darlene Tyler says:

      First off I am so sorry for your loss.I also lost my brother to suicide, he used a shotgun to end his life and his loss has forever changed my life.He has been gone 5 years now but and it has been a struggling battle to deal with his death.If I knew the right words to say to help you I would share them with you.I have found many support groups online .One is on facebook which is just for siblings that have lost a sibling, it is an amazing group where you can share your good thoughts and you thoughts of sadness, anger, and anything you want and everyone understands how and why you are feeling as you do and all are willing to help you through the next minute, hour, day …I can offer this…go one the web and search and you will find so many amazing ways you can help support the prevention of suicide. Blessings be with you as your go through this journey.

    • Heather Spurgeon says:

      Kelsie, I deeply feel your pain. My brother hung himself May 27, 2007 at age 25. Almost 5 yrs later and I still deal with trying not to blame someone and dealing with my anger. Unfortunately, anger is one of the steps in the grieving process. But you are right, there are too many other important people still in your life and you need each other right now. My anger and saddness pushed a lot of people away. Getting involved with prevention is great and its what i have been doing. A good organization is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.com) But words of advice from someone that has been through this for a while now; take time for you and your healing! You wont be able to help someone else if you arent healed yourself. Almost all couselors and organizations will ask you to wait till at least 2 yrs after the passing of a loved one to really get involved. I pray for you and your family as i know exactly the pain you are going through. God Bless!!
      -Heather

    • Samantha says:

      Kelci, my brother hung himself in August 2006, a month away from his 27th birthday. I miss him terribly and my life will never be the same. He was my only sibling and no one in this world will ever understand me like he did. I have been through (and still do) so many emotions. I will get mad at him for leaving me and his family and them I will get mad at myself for feeling that way. It’s a terrible, terrible thing to go through but just remember there are people like me out there that know what you are going through.

  3. Daniel says:

    This is an interesting website. I am also an author writing a detailed book about my horrific journey through depression’s nightmare. I had a cousin who committ suicide due to severe depression and all my work is dedicated to him. More information on myself and what I stand by and believe in can be viewed on Facebook and YouTube under Warriors Of Depression. Give birth to the warrior within your soul!

  4. Jen says:

    Perfectly stated!!

  5. Susan says:

    I agree that casting blame on survivors only compounds the damage created by suicide.

    I don’t entirely agree, however, that people like my sister are entirely to blame for taking their own lives. Yes, my sister pulled the trigger and died. But I can’t place blame on a person who has reached that level of misery and desperation.

    I have added insight: I suffer from many of the same mental health issues my sister faced. Unlike my sister, I got help–medications, therapy, even ECT treatment. I had a supportive husband, children and friends. My sister’s network was not nearly as strong.

    But I do know the absolute hell of living with treatment-resistant depression. And in the past, I have considered suicide–not because I wanted to hurt my family.(My God, I did not.) I didn’t necessarily want to die. What I did want was to end the absolute misery beyond misery I endured every day. It is a pain every bit as agonizing as as physical pain.

    Just as it doesn’t help to blame family, it serves no purpose to blame a person who is ill and suffering.

    • ericmarcus says:

      Dear Susan,
      I’m sorry for leaving the impression that I was blaming the person who took his life. On my best days, I try to have compassion. Blaming anyone in the aftermath of a suicide gets us nowhere. Better we should seek understanding and try to find comfort in sharing our experiences with others who have been down the same path. It’s such an awful experience to begin with and seeking to assign blame only makes things worse.
      Best, Eric

  6. Steven R says:

    It’s not surprising that there aren’t many comments what is surprising though is the fact that a number of the comment are in agreement when it comes to blame.

    I can see where you’re coming from and yet it’s not a strong argument. You did a great job of telling your story and making strong points on the effect of your dad’s suicide and who the people in his life who may have been deserving of blame.

    Yet, the reality is if there was concern about his well being and if he was going to commit the act, there’s one thing that should have happened even if it was 41 years ago, getting your father help!

    It is extremely difficult to place blame on a person who has attempted to or successfully committed suicide. The reason being is their mind is not rational.

    What this article made me think of is the song Last Resort by Papa Roach.

    Strongest lyric in the song is “wish someone would tell me I’m fine.”

    If that person has also indicated that they are going to harm themselves or even harm others. That threat should be taken seriously and not ignored.

    Nearly every school shooting that has been in the news of late there’s been warning signs and even a number of people who knew before. Yet, each time it’s the same excuse, “I thought he was joking.” Or at least something similar to that reasoning.

    In most cases when the person does attempt to commit suicide or completes the act, they have lost all hope! There’s an excellent quote that states “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”

    For the person if there’s no chance of hope, it isn’t surprising that they would consider doing something drastic.

    This is why blame does have to be put in. As a society we need to be teaching people regardless of age if you think someone is in trouble and aren’t sure if they are joking, do something, do not ignore it!

    Blame is tough in those situations because it is the actions of the person attempting to or completing the act and the inaction of others.

    So what it really comes down to does blame go on the person who’s mind isn’t acting rationally or should blame be placed on the person or persons who are rationale?

    I’m going to go with a majority of blame goes on the people who have a sound mind. Like mentioned before calling 911 isn’t a difficult task and neither is calling a suicide prevention hotline.

    • Maria says:

      AWESOME…thank you Steven. You touched on a few points I failed to mention in my response to the article. If many of us were to share our whole experience, we’d practically write books ourselves! Regardless, you’re so right…the hard truth of it is that in many cases there are contributing factors. That if people had acted differently, a life could’ve been saved. I don’t know how many times since the death of my son that I’ve heard, “You can’t dwell on the should’ves, could’ves, and would’ves”. Yes, we have to look at them!! How else do we learn what mistakes were made, and how to save a life next time?! Thank you…

    • Alexandra Phipps says:

      Thank you, Steven. This is my first visit to this blog so I hesitate to disagree with its creator without a more comprehensive understanding of his mission here, but I do support your point; blame has its place.

      Nobody enjoys feeling guilty. It is more comfortable to dismiss the post-suicide self-recriminations by taking solace in our culture’s pop psych/self-help dogma that discourages guilt and blame and reflexively answers all the hard questions with asinine salves like: “There was nothing you could do” and “It’s not your fault.”

      This is nonsense and the heart knows that.

      The truth is, WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW AND TO WHAT EXTENT OUR BEHAVIORS AFFECT OTHERS’ PSYCHES. Therefore, philosophies that dismiss the integrity of guilt/blame neglect the complexities of morality (while also presuming to understand the mysteries of existence); they epitomize arrogance and encourage injustice.

      My brother killed himself four months ago. Am I responsible? YES. Is my mother responsible? YES. Is my father responsible? YES. Could I have been a better sister? YES. We are all responsible – in our own private ways and to degrees that we probably can’t fathom – for each other and our souls know this. So, if you feel guilty, it’s probably because you are. I know that’s a frightening and unappealing idea (and I’m probably going about expressing it in a callous way), but it doesn’t have to be a discouraging one. Your guilt is actually a solemn gift. If you accept it, you can begin to heal.

  7. Gloria Tucci says:

    Darlene Tyler, could you give me the name of the group on Facebook to share with others who have lost a sibling? My sweet sister, Kathy, died by suicide(hanging)in June of 2010. We will never be the same.
    Thank you

  8. alonehere says:

    I blame myself, my husband died of a broken heart. I broke it when i asked for a dicorce. He shot himself upon hanging up the phone when i told him we would never be again. He begged me for another chance. I abandoned him. His body was found beside our bed. We have 4 children. The anger, guilt, reality, and search for why never ends.

    • ericmarcus says:

      Dear Alone Here,
      You are not alone. You’re really not. My mother’s experience is almost the same as yours. My father left behind three young children. My mother was 39 and a part-time bookkeeper. I wish she were alive so she could tell you in her own words that she understands what you’re going through.

      I hope that you’ve reached out to a local suicide survivor support group or a professional counselor for both yourself and for your children. In case you haven’t, here’s a link to information about support groups: http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?page_id=FEE33687-BD31-F739-D66C210657168295.

      I’m so sorry for you and your family.
      All best, Eric

      • Molly says:

        Dear Alonehere;
        My sisters fiance killed himself after my sister broke up with him. He walked out of the room where my sister and their 14-month old daughter were, and he shot himself moments later. It is horrible, and sad beyond belief, and we’ll NEVER understand why he couldn’t see a future for himself. It was a moment of passion that he couldn’t control. If he could have controlled it for his daughters sake, I’m positive that he would have. Be assured that you are not alone. Its not your fault, just like its not my sisters fault. So sorry for your loss.
        Molly

    • Alexandra Phipps says:

      My heart goes out to you. You are not alone. And you are also not responsible for his genetic inheritance and his early developmental environment, all factors that are far more significant in forming his personality and self-concept.

  9. Eric, thanks for writing this article. The message is one that we who are left behind need to hear over and over and over.
    As you implied, we don’t reach the point of non-blaming overnight, but hopefully, we will all get there.
    Love and peace,
    Karyl, mother of Arlyn

  10. Janice Accles says:

    I agree with you completely. It is a waste of time and money to try this very foolish young man. I hope the jury understands the fragility of Tyler and what sent him over the railing on the bridge was this and not the Ravi incidents.

    I have known four men who committed suicde in the last two and a half years. One was gravely ill, one despondent over financial disaster and the two others left no note and seemingly no reason. But depression can be hidden, carried around until it can no longer be tolerated. There is no blame to be placed on anyone including the suicide him/herself. The suicide believes everyone will be better off without him/her. We know this to be not true but the suicide can not see it rationally therefore there is no blame to be placed. Depression is an illness and it does kill.

  11. Connie says:

    I agree with you, Susan. Though blame is a normal reaction in all sorts of situations, placing it on our lost loved one is not what helps — placing it on no one and understanding that we cannot control life’s outcomes is what can move us forward in the journey of surviving a suicide. My son handged himself Jan. 17, 2011. He was 26. I blame no one. I am sorry for all the losses stated in this blog.

  12. One thing you didn’t mention is blaming yourself. I spent a long time blaming myself when I lost my son to suicide. I talked to him that morning and kept going over that conversation thinking I must have said something wrong, or didn’t say the right thing.
    It’s been over 2 years and sometimes guilt still takes over my thoughts. Fortunately for me, I have a very, very close friend who kept telliing me it was my son’s choice.
    I am finally accepting that. Everyone, accept my condolences for the loved ones you have lost.
    I can truly say I know the pain you are suffering. Its a very unique kind of pain than people who haven’t been through this experience have no idea what it feels like.

  13. Gloria Tucci says:

    The sad and desperate truth is that those of us who are left will never know the “Why”. Regardless of what the signs are or the note says or what we think we know or who we think is to blame, our loved one isn’t here to give us the answer. They didn’t do it to us or because of us. They did it to themselves.

  14. Jane says:

    The blame lies with the mental illness that our loved ones suffered from. When someone dies from another disease, we don’t desperately look for someone to blame ( perhaps a higher power). We are angry at cancer, or the drunk driver but we do not blame the victim. My daughter suicided 16 months ago. There was no one to blame, but the mental illness that had slowly overtook her and left no room for life. She left this world to free herself from darkness and pain. I am asking you to free yourself of the need to place blame. It is a burden that you cannot place at anyone’s feet. I am sorry for all your losses and heartache. As always, be strong.

  15. Samantha says:

    In regards to what Steven R is stating, it is one thing if that person is going to harm others but it is a LOT harder getting help for someone who is going to harm themselves. After my brother attempted suicide once by overdosing I told the drs I was sure he had taken the pills to end his life. HE told the drs “he got his meds mixed up”. I TRIED to get him help but he didn’t want it. He had another failed attempt. Tried to get him “committed”, didn’t work. They would hold him for like 48 hours then he was free to check himself out. I tried to save him, but he didn’t want to save himself. Or he felt like he COULDN’T save himself. I know I can’t fully blame him and I can’t imagine the hopelessness he felt but I feel I still have a right to get upset with him for not reaching out.

    • Maria says:

      Samantha,
      I’m very sorry for your loss and I commend your dedication and love for you brother. You did everything you could to keep him alive.

      As for Steven’s comment, I think he’s referring to those who know someone is suffering, yet they do nothing. My son had shared his pain with two of his peers, whom he loved very much and whom loved him as well. Those two people are still very much a part of our lives, but they learned a very tragic, and hard lesson. I go around to area highschools and communities and share our story in the hopes that kids will learn from our tragedy and if ever faced with the same situation, they will seek help for that friend. I also try to emphasize that it’s never too late to try to help someone.

      In a way, you are fortunate because you do not have to live the rest of your life knowing that your brother reached out to you but you did nothing. My son’s two friends will have to live with it, work through it, and move forward. We continue to do everything we can to help them find peace and happiness again. That’s not something anyone should have to carry on their shoulder’s, but it happens all too often.

      Peace to you Samantha.

  16. Keicha says:

    Thank you for writing this. You’re right, blame is often one of the most immediate things we do after losing someone to suicide.

    When my sister killed herself in 2010, I was filled with rage and blame towards the man she had been in a very destructive relationship with for two years. His actions helped propel a very mentally fragile woman towards suicide. In fact, there is strong evidence suggesting that he was the last person she saw and spoke to before taking her fatal overdose of antidepressants and alcohol. On previous occasions she’d threatened suicide to him and he’d cared enough to let family know. He was very aware of her depression and previous suicide attempts, and yet on that last fateful night opted not to let us, her family, know she was alone and feeling desperate. Why would he when his behavior was contributing to her feelings of desperation?

    Now, almost two years later my feelings have softened. Of course I wanted to rage, scream, cry and pummel her boyfriend with my fists, taking my fury at losing her out on him. Because he chose to be callous towards my sister, playing with her emotions, cheating on her, taunting her for “being crazy” I lost my beloved sister and friend. Why wouldn’t I want him held somewhat responsible? The thing is, I also wanted to do all those things to my sister. Therein lies the rub and the problem with blame. It simply isn’t constructive.

    Ultimately, those who kill themselves have to be held responsible because they’re the ones who took the final, irreversible action. Yes, there are plenty of ways that others can either help or hinder the healing of those suffering from depression and other issues contributing to suicide, but the person with the problem has to also take responsibility for getting help. It’s no different than an addict having to acknowledge their addiction and be willing to take an active role in their own recovery.

    I know my sister and so many others struggled for years, and I think she simply wanted to escape her pain. Yes, I wish everyone around her would have been a perfect circle of support and encouragement. The fact is, they weren’t. Some who could have helped her chose to be selfish. Still, that changes nothing. For my own healing I’ve had to let go of my useless blame. Recovering from the suicide of a loved one is hard enough and harboring feelings of blame and anger only makes recovery harder. For that reason, I’ve chosen to let go of the blame and focus on helping others through suicide prevention and awareness activities. Blame is futile. Action and education is what will help.

  17. Brittany says:

    It’s far to common we look for someone to blame. 3 short years ago my mom committed suicide. She was 42 years old And I was jus 17 at the time. I blamed everyone for her death. It was out of no where I never knew she was depressed or feeling the way she was. She never lead me to believe she was depressed so I obviously blamed whoever. Over the last 2 years I have grown a lot and also learned more about suicide and open signs. Being so young I never seen the signs but now I know it was my
    Moms decision to take her own life and all the warning signs were there i jus didnt know any better. Every day gets a little easier but the thought never goes away. Thank you for sharing your story many family members who have been through an experience like suicide I believe are changed forever and left to pick up the pieces with unanswered questions. I forgave my mom for leaving me alone to fin for myself and it was the best thing I ever did. I can live my life happy not studying her death tryin to find someone responsible because all along it was her who took her own life and no one could have stopped her.

  18. Heather says:

    This is so hard to read because I’ve lost a lot of people to suicide, however, recently I lost my Dad. He didn’t suffer from depression, only ‘something happened’ and changed everything. I do blame his wife still. It is so complicated. I believe she encouraged him and refused to get him help. She lied to me plenty, and even in his passing, continued to.

    When I’ve lost other people I have put blame on a ‘lack of community’ and that something is wrong within society because people are often feeling disconnected. We need to find healthier ways to live – physically, emotionally, mentally, and one of the most important, spiritually. It is difficult to accept that some people see no other way out.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, people commit suicide and yes, it’s important (for a variety of reasons, including being an essential part of the healing process) to be angry at and lay the blame on the individuals who choose suicide. But, there is also the fact that our actions have consequences that weigh on other people. And we must be responsible for the consequences our actions wreak.

    If I am convicted of vehicular manslaughter, I may not have intended for my actions to result in the death of another individual, but my actions contributed to that individual’s death and I must submit to the appropriately mandated punishment in return. Dharun Ravi may not have intended for Tyler Clementi to commit suicide, but his actions contributed to Clementi’s decision to take his own life. He, too, must face the consequences of his actions.

    It’s not a matter of playing the “blame game.” It’s a matter of understanding that there are real-world consequences to our actions, even when the effects are not what we intended or envisioned.

  20. Lissa says:

    I am so sorry for the losses everyone here has suffered. I have followed the Dharun Ravi case since it began, since Tyler’s death, and in Tyler Clementi’s case and so many other young suicides that have become our headlines of late, there IS blame. Because those young people were harassed, bullied, tormented to the point where they could no longer live life with any purpose. They did not take their lives after having struggled with mental illness, they were directly pushed toward desperate measures by those who callously continued to bully them.

    So while many here have suffered horrible losses due to those whose lives were cut short by mental illness leading to suicide, Tyler Clementi showed no signs of any illness or breakdown. And while Ravi is not charged with Tyler’s death, he is most definitely a contributor to the events that led up to it.

    Thank you for listening, and my heart is with you all.

  21. Katie says:

    When one of my distant relatives committed suicide, the first person I blamed was myself. It’s been almost 8 and a half years now and it took me most of that time to stop feeling guilty. I eventually reasoned that he made that choice and that I didn’t do anything to make him want to do it, having only met him once. The next person I blamed was his therapist, I figured if anyone could’ve or should’ve stopped him it would be the PROFESSIONAL trained to do so. Maybe I still blame them a little bit, but holding on to that isn’t doing anything accept keeping me from letting go, it can’t change things and it can’t bring him back and it’s something I will have to accept.

  22. Maria says:

    First off, let me say that I’m very sorry for the loss of your father. I can’t imagine living my whole life without both my parents being a part of it, much less growing up trying to understand why one of them took their own life.

    Secondly, I think it’s important to remind ourselves, and everyone else that each individual’s experience is very different. Without having lived that person’s (the decedent’s and/or their loved ones) life, we cannot possibly know every detail that led them to their deaths or what led their loved ones to believe that someone was responsible for such death. Which, you do make some reference to in regards to Tyler Clementi’s death.

    I lost my oldest son in April 2009. He was 18 years old, and a month from graduating. In a nutshell, he was an awesome kid with more friends than I can begin to list. He was very loved by many. I’ve spent the last 3 years asking why, and learning everything I can about the illness that finally led to his death. Although I had a very good understanding of mental illness before I lost my son, I understand it even better now. The one most important thing that I remind myself and pass on to others is that mental illness is a medical condition of the brain. The brain is an organ of the body like any other (obviously much more complex), and it can become ill just as any other organ can.

    When one human being physically assaults another human being (or even an animal) they are guilty of a crime that is punishable by law. We’ve even come so far as to recognize emotional and mental abuse. But centuries of STIGMA has made it more acceptable to mentally and emotionally assault another human being. When we’ve been emotionally injured we’re expected to “just brush it off”, “get over it”, or “ignore them”.

    The medical profession is held to certain standards, laws, rules, and ethics. When malpractice is evident a dr will lose their license and face possible lawsuits.

    How can something as vital and complex as the human brain not be as deserving of humane treatment from others as the rest of our body. And why is it so inconceivable to find fault with someone who may have contributed to emotional and mental distress of another? Mental health professionals DO need to be held to the same standards as all other’s who treat the ailments of the human body. And I believe that people need to always keep in mind that as non-professionals, we may not know whether or not someone is suffering a mental illness. If we intentionally cause that person mental or emotional pain, then we are accepting the risk and responsibiltity that it could be life changing or even life ending for that person.

    My son died as a result of an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness…depression. What caused this depression? I can’t say for certain. It could’ve been genetics, it could’ve been environment. It’s most likely a combination of both. Have we recognized some of the factor’s that probably led to his death? Yes, we have. Were there events that led to the end? Yes, there were. Were there key people that caused him intentional, unnecessary, and unwarranted emotional and mental pain? Yes, there were. Could many of us done something differently? Yes, we could’ve. Would that have saved him? Who knows…but his chances for survival could’ve been increased.

    We have to be able to look back in order to make a difference for the future. I believe the problem isn’t in looking for the contributing factors, or persons…the problem is what we do with that information when it’s discovered. We must look at the facts, and find what led to our loved ones death, while understanding that ultimately they were not in their right mind. Anger, hatred, and vengeance will not bring our loved ones back. It will, at best, leave us bitter, and miserable, and put our own health at risk. But is it okay to leave those toxic people behind, whether they were family or not? It was paramount for us. But, I do think it’s important that we find new meaning in life, learn from the tragedy, and try to turn it into something positive.

    I was fortunate enough that my situation allows me to do that. I have done everything I can to care for myself, my husband, and my 3 remaining children since my son’s death. Will I ever again allow my children to fall victim to those who hurt my son most? Absolutely not…and we’re no worse for the wear. Will I judge those who take a different path after the suicide loss of a loved one? Absolutely not…I do not know their story. But I will pray they find peace, love, and hope once again.

    Thank you for allowing us to express our opinions, feelings, and experiences in relation to your story.

  23. Barb says:

    Hi Eric,

    Great post! I myself don’t believe blame should ever enter the scenario of suicide. No good ever comes of blame and in most instances, is based solely on one’s own perspective, not necessarily correct, justified or valid.

    I don’t think Ravi is to blame for Tyler’s suicide, but I do believe he greatly contributed to the outcome. Ravi’s choice, added to an already fragile Tyler and shows complete lack of decency or integrity and a complete invasion of privacy. This case has wide scrutiny in the media and that will not change when it comes to the trial. I believe there should be some form of consequence for Ravi, but what the courts deem that to be remains to be seen. People need to understand and learn that their actions have consequences, often times deeply hurting another person. How you instill in a person what is right and wrong is a question many will ponder.

  24. Judy says:

    My 17 year old son took his life by hanging in 1990. I blamed his father and the doctors. His father to this day I still blame. I have learned through therapy that as my son said in his note “I have so many problems”. It was just the spark. To this day I still blame his father for some of his problems and the doctors blame has softened as I blamed them for not putting him inpatient when he was showing for the 5th time, suicide ideations and 8 out of 10 signs. Each time he attempted and the 5th time was successful. I miss him so much and think about the positive things Kevin left with us. Love, laughter and the biggest smile and hugs. Love and miss you Kevin.

  25. magdoc says:

    Very well said. Blame game never helps. May lead to worse consequences for the survivor.

    Suicide has so many social, psychological and biological causes which may lead to similar social, psychological and biological consequences in the survivors, that it is extremely difficult to pinpoint one factor/cause/event.

  26. Kari says:

    Tears flowing as I read all of pain and almost feel it with every strike of the keyboard. I have suffered from unimaginable depression a great deal of my 35 years. I have contemplated suicide on several occasions. the only thing that has ever stopped me is the pain it would leave for my children. What drives me to it is a sinking hopelessness I can not control or understand. NOTHING makes it go away or even eases it. Medication made these thoughts almost an action, so needless to say I stopped taking them. Its a seed planted in your brain, like a little voice in your head that says no more. While there is MANY things to blame there is no one person. Its me, its my past, its my today, its all just too much sometimes. The moment that drives you right to the ledge may not be the thing that started the ball rolling. Why is a question we (those who experience this) don’t even know the straight answer to. SO take a little assurance in knowing there is NOTHING you could have done differently, nor anyone else really. Also stop asking yourself if I had just one more moment with them to ask why maybe id understand. You never will as they didn’t either. Suicide is never about hurting anyone else its about ending your own hopelessness. Its like dying from cancer, just be okay with the fact they are no longer in pain…. that for them whatever tortured and tormented them, its over. Sometimes dead really is better. That’s not an arguable point, you cant argue someones feelings. Validate them by saying to yourself I FORGIVE YOU! That’s all you really can do…

    • Jill says:

      kari,
      Please stay! Please fight your depression! keep trying new medication and theropy! I lost my beautiful Sister 15 months ago to suicide and I feel you have been so truthful and honest here. I also feel you have described her pain and anguish. Im begging you Kari please fight! I will be praying for you! You are not alone and you are not a burden please go afsp.org to find some help.

      Jill

    • Kari,
      Your description of your pain can be what my son was feeling, I just never knew. He never acted like this was the issue. Kari, I pray to God, the Holy Sprit, and his Son Jesus, that you are still alive! The fact that you posted you sincere thoughts helps all of us help others. Please post your ok. I don,t know you, but I love you! Find a faith based church? There are soo many cool rock, young, vibrant worship locations,…find God, he loves you! I promise! No matter what! Be ok…! I’m praying for you. My heart was broken, don,t break your family’s heart, do it for you, and the precious life God gave you.
      Lots of hope and Blessings showering on you!
      B

  27. Susan says:

    A brave article, Eric. Thank you for bringing the topic forward.

  28. andree says:

    Thank u Kari for helping me better understand the tormenting depressive thoughts that led my son to take his life at 22 yrs. of age. But why is there still no talk of suicide being the result of an illness of the brain – most of us are born with the will to live despite overwhelming negative circumstances but in others something causes the brain to override this will to live.

  29. S. Caldwell says:

    My mother hung herself from her bedroom ceiling fan 3 weeks ago. This tragedy has left me in agony, even though I knew she was suicidal. I’d actually talked to her about her suicidal thoughts just days before. I have spent the last few weeks blaming myself and others; however, I know that I felt lost too. We’d had her hospitalized twice in the last few years, but the mental istitutions would not keep her more than a few days. She left the hospital both times in worse condition than when she entered, full of anger and resentment. I didn’t want to put her through that again, so I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to help her. She’d threatened suicide for the last 10 years. I thought this time may have just been another threat. I didn’t know what to do. There is no real person to blame. Bipolar is to blame, a system is to blame, one that doesn’t help people who suffer from this type of misery. We need to bring awareness to that.

  30. Laura says:

    Wow! So many people hurting just like me. So many feeling alone and wondering what to do with their lives now, just like me. My beautiful husband of 25 years killed himself last April. I have a son left at home getting to graduate. I have a married daughter that just had her first baby in October. I have a stepson getting ready graduate from his residency program in 2 more years and will be an anesthesiologist. My kids have so much to live for. They are just starting their lives. They miss their father so much and are angry he is not here to share all their hopes and dreams with them. And me?? Well, where do I go from here. I still work. I come home. But for what? No retirement plans now. No long road trips across the country to look forward to . No one to cook for. No one to tell any of my hopes and dreams to. I felt horribly alone. Horribly lost. It’s like on the wizard of oz, I just got picked up and placed in a world overnight that I want nothing to do with. Please, if any of you are considering suicide, DONT! You have no idea the pain and suffering it will cause others. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem as they say. There is ALWAYS help out there for you. Seek it, grab onto it, hold on for dear life. Don’t let you precious life slip away. It is a gift from God and only He should be the one to deicide when your time is up.
    Laura

    • Awe…Laura, I absolutely feel your pain. Only someone who has been through this can understand, sometimes I’m selective on whom I tell, sympathy, shock, a look of “didn’t you know”? It,s tough!?!
      Hang in there, if you need a friend, a road trip or flight? I’m a normal, catholic school teacher, humanitarian, animal loving, mother, wife, artist, pilar to the community, and it happened to me!? Never saw it coming, ignorant? Sometimes I think so? If you ever need to talk,…maybe there’s some way we can make contact, without the world knowing our info. I’m in Dallas. Your in my prayers, God is a forgiving God, have faith knowing he is in paradise. I’m certain he is, Bless him. Sincerely,
      B

  31. My infinite search for answers and knowledge,have me continually absorbing anything to do with this subject, in hope that my heart at some point can stop asking why? But always somehow know, I,ll never truly know for sure.
    My Son died on Aug.12, 2013, he was 23, living what I thought,his dream hippie lifestyle with his girlfriend. He held a lot of his emotions inside, tender hearted, never asked for help, always too proud. His time in CA, was spent working on a marajuana farm along with GF, and many others. Story is he broke up with her? Needed to be alone that night, went and camped out alone, and did the deed,(I can,t even say how?, sometimes I can? Not today.) I’m a faithful religious person, and believe he,s with God, I’m at peace with that. Why do I keep researching? I,ll never know for sure,..I can,t stop? When will I stop? Trying,..but can,t stop the why’s…?

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