Did this man betray his family by committing suicide?

Be with y’all in a second. I have to light this cigarette and take a long deep drag so I can blow smoke in the faces of people who don’t like hypotheticals and yet still read the threads so they can bitch about them.

:: lights cig, etc ::

Now that I’ve increased my lung cancer risk, let’s get to the story, which is about Chris, a man in his mid-40s, with a similarly-aged wife, Caryl, and four kids, Casey, Courtney, Chloe, and Agamemnon, ranging from 11 to 4 in age. At 25, Chris invented a useful gadget that made them millions. Caryl hasn’t worked since college, and Chris pretty much retired at 39; he spends his time doting on his kids and wife, all of whom adore him.

A while ago Chris was diagnosed with an uncommon genetic disease. This ailment causes first blindness, then deafness, then paralysis. With appropriate care the victim can live for many years after that point – years in which he’ll be totally dependent on others. There is typically about a two-year gap between the first onset of symptoms and the paralysis, and no effective therapy.

Chris is an athletic, clever guy. The thought of even being blind terrifies him, much less the other stuff. So he makes a plan. After verifying that none of the kids have the recessive gene that causes the disease, he puts his affairs in order. After making sure that Caryl and the kids would be financially taken care of – she’d never have to go to work, the kids would all have money for college and grad school, et cetera – and without telling Caryl what he planned, he waited for his vision to start to fail, as that was the first symptom. When that day came there was still no treatment for the disease and no prospect for same, so he rented a cabin in the woods; texted his lawyer to meet him there; and, once he had confirmation that the lawyer was en route, put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Among other things, his lawyer had instructions to deliver his suicide note to Caryl, who was, of course, devastated, though not as much as four-year-old Aggy.

Did Chris betray his family by checking out as he did?

I don’t think I’d go as far as “Betrayed”.

It’s a difficult situation, and not being one of those people who thinks we need to force people to endure the unendurable just because Human life is so precious that we must do everything possible to continue it; I think he had a right to end it on his own terms.

I would generally prefer that people involve their families in such decisions, but again, there’s the distinct possibility that their family will suffer pain and agony by being made aware of that choice and choose to fight it, making it more painful for everyone.

The real victim? The owner of the cabin he rented. Someone has to clean that up, and “suicide cabin” isn’t something you really want to be in the business of renting out going forward.

The disease is too horrible to contemplate. No one should be forced or guilted into living like that. I vote no betrayal. The “easy” way out is sometimes the right one

I don’t think so. I think he saved him and them a lot of pain by ending his life, and also by not involving them in the process. It’s up to Caryl to explain it to the kids. I would have done the same thing. It would have been hard work to invent a gadget that makes millions in the little time I’d have left, but I’d do that for my family.

He did what I would likely do in his shoes. Hope I’m never in his shoes.

No, he did not “betray” his family.

He sounds kind of detail oriented, so I’d think he would have left instructions for his lawyer to cover all damages incurred by the cabin owner.

I would do the same, though probably without involving someone’s rental cabin. Living like that is not living.

The Agamemnon name was good. You should just name them all after Greeks/Romans/Trojans/Etc from now on so I can imagine all your stories as unknown heroic epics.

Having kids myself, I think, yes, there’s an element of betrayal. More importantly, I say this having known the children of someone who committed suicide.

Chris has the means to be cared for. He would still be the same person. I think his family would much rather have him around than not. Furthermore, he may find that, while not a picnic, the restricted existence he so fears is not that bad. Others have made lives worth living with severe disabilities.

Chris can always commit suicide later. He can’t “take it back” now.

He didn’t betray them by checking out before he reached a point at which he felt his life was not worth living and he was a burden to his family. I’d do the same.

His method, however, could be better. A shotgun leaves quite a messy scene, which is a cruel thing to do to his lawyer and everyone else who has to see it. And even if they never see it, the family will know and imagine that scene. Also, giving them no warning at all may not be fair to them. Especially his wife, who might fare better with a little advance notice, even if she disagrees with his plan, and might be able to help the children more.

Ideally, the wife would understand his choice and he could depart in a much less sudden and traumatic way. But that’s not easy in our society.

(Bolded mine) He would still be the same person…sort of…but he would have no way to communicate that to anyone or have them communicate with him. That’s not “restricted existence,” that’s hell on earth.

I vote no betrayal, but I hope he included letters for his children.

They’ve got money and good memories of their dad. I’d have done the same thing, I think. Not a betrayal.

Not quite. After the blindness and paralysis set in, he’d have only been able to join the choir invisible with assistance.

But I agree that it was a betrayal. Chris hailed Charon’s ferry when his vision had only begun to fail. As he went alone to a cabin in the woods, things must not have been terribly bad yet. He had years to go during which he could have been with Agamemnon and the four Cs. I think what he did counts as a betrayal.

This. He’s saving his family a lot of suffering and grief. Not that there won’t be grief, but it will be less.

“Betrayed” is the wrong word for it. While I would be thankful that he made sure his family was provided for financially, to an extent that’s also irrelevant. I would rather have my wife than have her money. People’s relationships are more than just transactional agreements or a division of labor, and if that’s the only metric by which they value each other, then that’s actually kind of sad.

I’ve dealt with psychiatrists who have examined the consequences of suicide, and they describe it as a nuclear bomb that just devastates the people around them and has far-reaching second and third order effects. Even setting aside the immediate grieving and the financial matters, those kids are scarred for life.

Not sure why he felt it necessary to involve the poor lawyer. He’s probably watched way too much TV and has strange notions about what we do.

I do not have any clients from whom I’d accept an invitation to meet at a remote location where I was to watch them whip, nae-nae, and shoot themselves in the head.

There is no reason I need to be the one to discover the body. If the client had me prepare a will, I generally give the original to the client after the signing ceremony. He or she is given instructions to store the document in a secure location–either a fireproof safe in their home or a safe deposit box at the bank.

Suicide notes discovered at the scene are typically disclosed to the next of kin. No reason for me to be involved there.

More importantly, who is paying me to go discover this body? I do my share of pro bono, but I do it in cases I choose, not because some guy wants to make me scrape his brains off my the soles of my good shoes.

Bottom line, this guy sounds like a pain in the ass, and I’d probably refuse to represent him. I might refer him to a local lawyer I don’t like, because sometimes we do passive aggressive things like that in this business.

Because he didn’t want his wife, kids, or friends to find his body, nor to simply disappear for an unpredictable length of time. Presumably he and the lawyer aren’t actually friends. And he committed suicide after he had confirmation that the lawyer was en route, not in front of him. And (though the OP doesn’t come out and say it), I doubt he warned the lawyer, who might have tried to stop him.

As for why the lawyer went: money, obviously. Dude had millions; he probably wove some lie promising extra business or whatever.

So he can get the lawyer’s prints on the gun. That, along with the emails on his laptop between his wife and the attorney detailing their tawdry affair should cause the lawyer some problems.

I didn’t blame Robin Williams, and I wouldn’t blame this guy. So, no.

Won’t someone please think of the lawyers? :eek:


I’m all for suicide, for his or any other reason, but the way he did it? Not cool.

He should have shown them the respect of sending them all ahead, like Sardanapalus.