Do suicide notes actually reassure family members?

I’m rather curious about this one… I had a distant distant family friend? He was around 14 and committed suicide off a bridge and left a suicide note reassuring his mum and sister that it wasn’t their fault and I was told he repeated that many times in his note. He also wrote something about he will be a lot happier and carefree wherever he goes… So I’m just curious? If you had a 14 year old son who committed suicide and wrote a similar note with all those things, would it give you closure?

As moderator: You’re not asking for a “factual answer” but for individual poster’s opinions. Hence, I’m moving this from General Questions to IMHO as a forum where you’ll get more of the discussion that I think you’re looking for.

As poster:
Seems to me it would always, always!, rouse up feelings of guilt that they didn’t do more to help. (Those feelings might be misplaced, it might be that they did everything human possible and beyond, but there’d always be a feeling of inadequacy.) Horrible, whatever he said.

One thing it might do is erase any doubt that the death was,in fact,a suicide. Whether that is comforting depends, I suspect, on the people involved. Some people hate not knowing for sure; some prefer it.

I think it would be better than not having a suicide note. They still have their loss to deal with, but at least they have something saying why it happened.

+1 to Manda JO’s comment about confirming that it was a suicide.

Closure is something it would not give me. 14 year olds have a hard enough time making decisions about everyday things and knowing and understanding who they are, much less making a decision about life and death.

My mother thinks her brother committed suicide (there was no note). Based on this experience, an analogy would be “if I stab someone in the chest with a rusty six-inch knife and root around a little, is it better to leave a band-aid on the counter afterward?” Some people might appreciate the gesture, but basically at that point, there’s not a lot you can do: you have caused them irreparable harm.

Personally, I’d rather have the note, but it’s a choice between two horrible options.

I have no way of knowing, and I’d think that if someone gave reasons for killing themselves their loved ones would just wish they had a chance to argue with what they were saying and try to change their minds. And while suicide notes are a staple of drama, most people who kill themselves don’t leave notes.

I plan to leave a note, so there is no question about my intentions. Will it reassure anyone? I don’t know.

My sister left a note, but I wouldn’t describe it as “reassuring” given that she was making sure everyone knew who she blamed for what. No, I didn’t find it at all “reassuring”. I’m not sure any note she could have left would have been “reassuring”.

Maybe something like that would be for someone, but not for me.

I really really hope you’re not serious. Please. (((((Foggy)))))

The note may make make the family feel a little better, or worse, or not make make much difference, depending on circumstances and its content, but none of those are the point of it. The point is to make the person committing suicide feel a little better, and perhaps to help them steel their resolve to do the deed.

My uncle died when he was a teenager. We don’t know if he intended to kill himself or if he was fooling around and grossly underestimated the inherent danger of what he was doing. A note would have removed the uncertainty. I don’t know how my grandparents would have felt about that. Perhaps they took some comfort in assuring themselves it was a tragic misadventure.

It wouldn’t have made us miss him any more or any less, though.

IME, yes and no. My mother killed herself when I was a teenager. She wrote individual notes to several people, including me. She had been planning it for weeks, which made us wonder why we didn’t see it coming.

She wrote some nice goodbyes, which were comforting. She wrote some flat-out crazy stuff, too. But she also wrote some incredibly nasty, hurtful things to me, which have always stuck with me. Maybe if I had been an adult and not a teenager, I could have seen how those nasty things were part of her personality flaws and her mental illness and disregarded them. But as a teenager, it was like a knife to the heart. I carried those things with me for a very long time, which I’m sure is exactly what she intended.

So, my answer is yes and no. I think a lot of it depends on the writer’s intent.

If the person blames a specific individual, incident, or circumstance it might help relieve whatever guilt people not involved with the cause may feel.

Might help end speculation of the “did he jump or was he pushed”-variety, if there might be ambiguity.

Seriously? I personally don’t get that. I’ve known a few people personally that have killed themselves, and considering most suicides I read about I don’t get the sense that people generally don’t kill themselves because they blame someone else. Now a parent or close friend, may wish they could have done more, got the person into therapy, been more supportive, etc. but I have never heard someone reading a suicide note, and say, “whew, thank God it wasn’t because of me.” :confused:

One more agreement with this. And with everyone who said that it wouldn’t be reassuring, exactly, but might be useful.

I know someone who worked in a coroner’s lab, once. Apparently there are a lot of families who get angry when the death is reported as a suicide, because their loved one would never have done that. How dare you close the case when it has to be murder. Accusations of stupidity and laziness to follow.

So the family may be ambivalent about a note, but the folks working at the coroner’s will be at least a little grateful. The police might find it helpful, too, but I haven’t heard from any of them.

A friend of mine had a relative who died under mysterious circumstances, and the death was ultimately ruled a suicide. However, my friend believed that it was a murder – I won’t get into the details, but based on what I was told it sounded likely (but not “beyond a reasonable doubt”) that the relative was killed in a drug dispute. I don’t know how my friend would feel if there had been a note proving that this death was in fact a suicide, but if it were me I think I’d prefer knowing it was a suicide to believing that it was a murder AND that the killer got away with it. A known suicide would of course also be better for anyone wrongly suspected of murdering the deceased.

In cases where there’s no question that the death was a suicide, I think most friends and relatives would always wonder “Why?” if there wasn’t a note…but I also think that a note written by a suicidal person likely would not provide an answer that others could easily accept. An exception might be a note revealing that the deceased had been suffering from a painful, incurable, and fatal disease and that they had decided to die on their own terms instead. Friends/family might still be very upset by this, but of all the reasons for suicide it seems like the easiest one for others to understand and accept.

I don’t know that the note helped my friend’s mom a few years ago when her husband, who’d had a couple of heart attacks, had diabetes, high blood pressure, and apparently not very well-treated depression and was generally not dealing very well with all the dietary and activity restrictions and generally not being able to do much that he enjoyed anymore, decided to suffocate himself in a plastic bag while she went out for brunch with friends. The note was something like “I love you, honey, but I just can’t take this anymore,” but wasn’t terribly comforting to her.

When Katherine Hepburn was a young girl she came home one afternoon to find her brother hanging from a rope. She grabbed his legs and tried to hold him up until somebody else got there.

I would think that, note or not, everybody affected would feel they had let him down.