Accusations, guilt and suicide.

Rambling, possibly pointless, need-to-get-it-down post follows

On Friday night John (not his real name) my neighbour of approximately 12 years, hung himself.

He left short note for his wife and then locked and barricaded himself in their garage so she wouldn’t find him when she got home from work.

John was one of those guys with an ‘interesting’ history. Lots of tattoos, biker gang connections from when he was a young man (he turned 50 last year), by turns stern, funny, generous and someone you would not want to get on the wrong side of. He worked shifts and was around a lot when the rest of us were at work. He kept an eye on our houses and my wife felt a lot safer with him in the street.

We knew there were family issues:

[li]They were estranged from daughter #1 for reasons we don’t know;[/li][li]Daughter #2 is a drunk/hard drug taker. Her kids were abused by someone in her group house and custody awarded to John and his wife.[/li][li]Daughter #3 is a pot-head and general all-round oxygen thief and waste of space. Until recently she and her kids lived with John.[/li][/ul]

Maybe two months ago daughter #3 accused John of physically abusing one of her kids (AFAIK not sexual but hitting or mistreating the kid). As a result John and his wife lost custody of the other grandkids, John spent a night in lockup and then a few weeks living with relatives, he lost his job and there have been police/social services at their house a lot. In the past few weeks John has had his tyres slashed and sand poured into the fuel tank of his car – most likely by ‘friends’ of daughter #3.

We knew John as a good man who loved his grandkids and sacrificed huge amounts for their safety and well-being. Daughter #3 on the other hand is the sort of person who would eat a turd and claim it tasted like steak if it was to her advantage to do so.

Daughter #3 made the accusations after John gave her a ‘my house – my rules’ ultimatum about her not smoking dope in the house. The fastest way for daughter #3 to get out and into a cheap place of her own was to get into public housing and the best way to do that was to get onto the emergency/high-needs list.

Hence the abuse accusations. At least that is how we all saw it.

But now………… he’s dead a few weeks before a scheduled court hearing and I can’t avoid asking questions:

If he was innocent why kill himself?

Did he think he wouldn’t get a fair hearing?

Was the stigma of the accusation and all the ensuing crap he’s had to deal with just too much and he was so beaten down to the point of not seeing another way out?

Could we have stopped things?

He never got his day in court and given the people involved I’ll be remembering the good man I knew, but there is still that little nagging possibility that he did do what he was accused of, magnified by his suicide and the unwritten assumption that only the guilty would take that road.

It’s a shitty situation all-round and there is not much we can do for anyone involved… :frowning:

Sounds like an all around sad situation.

Of course I don’t know anything about John or his family but sometimes people treat their own children very differently than their friends/coworkers/neighbours. His first child has nothing to do with him and the other two are messed up. When all of your kids are screwed up, I tend to look at the parents.

Maybe he’s innocent but maybe he’s everything she’s accusing him of being. Maybe he was too ashamed of everybody finding out.

Who knows. I’m sorry that you lost your friend, though.

I was going to say pretty much the same thing.

Whatever went on between the parents, kids will tell the truth, whether they realize it or not.

Despite the tough guy facade, it’s possible John had issues you (and maybe no one) knew about. Perhaps the added weight of legal probems, financial problems, family probems, public shame, and uncertainty about the outcome was more than he could bear. The legal system does not always work perfectly.

He simply may have been depressed. There may have been a genetic component to it, which lead to his daughters problems, or the problems may have come from being raised by someone who was depressed and untreated, if in fact he was for a great portion of their growing up.

Maybe he stopped taking his medicine if he had to do piss tests for the government over custody of thew grandkids he had, or maybe the extra stress was too much for the medication he was on-- or maybe he has been coping unmedicated all these years, and he simply hit the point where it was too much, and he couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel. He may not have felt strong enough to handle prison, and worried that he couldn’t beat the charges even if he was innocent. Or maybe he just couldn’t handle being estranged from every last member of his family.

Many depressives end in suicide after comping seemingly successfully with the disease for decades.

True or not, it’s a commonplace that men do not get a fair hearing in such matters. His history would certainly count against him.

Those were my thoughts exactly. I’m familiar with depression and its effects, and I know that sometimes, all you need to push you over the edge is one bad day.

In his shoes, I could understand just reaching the, “I’ve had enough” point.

It’s possible, from all you’ve shared that he perhaps had earlier issues with addiction and that he carries guilt seeing his children so afflicted, has struggled to fight his way out of that, and just generally had a hard, hard life. It’s possible he just didn’t have another bitter fight in him. The truth is: anything is possible.

But I really came into your thread to share some advice which I acquired through bitter experience, when I lost my brother to suicide. Don’t waste your time looking for answers. There are no answers. You’re not going to discover something that makes this okay somehow. You will make yourself crazy looking. Nothing can make such events ‘make some sense’. I stopped looking by accepting two things as solid truth; whatever the unknown details of his dark troubles, he must surely have been suffering terribly. Secondly, his suffering has ended. I believe you can look forever but this is where you’ll end up.

So sorry to hear of these events and wishing you good luck.

Sounds like a pretty dysfunctional family. Maybe the parents are just unlucky that they have troubled relationships with all three children. But trouble rarely springs up in a vacuum.

My father was a good parent, loved us and kept us secure. He would also beat the living shit out of us if he felt the situation called for it. By todays standards we would have been removed from the home and my father would have been put in prison. I suspect John may have carried on a family tradition . I think counseling in these cases may be more appropriate if the kids have no real fear of the parents or if abuse is limited to diciplinary type situations. He proably felt defeated.

Thanks for the replies everyone. Lots of good advice and a lot to think about.

Certainly a dysfunctional family but one from all appearances that was trying to get itself back together and working better.

The point about long-term issues and any one of a number of things being the final breaking point is a good one and one I hadn’t considered in the aftermath of the incident.