I lost my 46 year old brother to suicide almost 10 years ago. The problem was that I intervened in this last attempt and he was transported by life flight to a local trauma hospital in Pittsburgh where they revived him.
On the day this happened he had been living in the house with my elderly father who called to enlist my help in the situation. This was the third time that I was called upon to intervene in one of my brother’s suicide attempts.
The second one which occurred 3 years prior had sent him spiraling into one of the most bizarre manifestations of psychotic behavior I had ever seen personally or professionally.
I am a masters educated social worker and have seen quite a bit in my work but I never saw the kinds of behaviors he exhibited at that time.
One of the most unusual was “clanging” which was a type of speech that consistently rhyme with every sentence.
Back to his last attempt in 2008.
He had a series of strokes from all the blood loss subsequent to slicing his arms and neck and taking an unknown amount and kind of medication. He was left in a vegetative locked in state where all he could do was communicate with his eyes. He couldn’t drink or eat or move any part of his body for 3 months.
It was excruciating.
The medical team wanted to meet with me to withdraw his food and hydration so that he could go peacefully but I was torn. I was willing to do this but needed to know the details so I scheduled to meet with his medical team.
I asked him if he wanted to die and his eyes lit up with a brilliance that could only be communicated as “What are you waiting for!”
My brother was not a well loved individual.
He had a troubled life for many years and had lost friends due to his behaviors. He was diagnosed with a number of psychotic conditions that included bipolar with psychosis symptoms, paranoid schizophrenia, and others. He had been molested at 11 and started smoking pot at that age. He used IV meth for a period but recovered enough to hold down a job and a small apartment. He was gay at a time when families weren’t so accepting although my parents never abandoned him. My mother died when we were young so my father dealt with the brunt of all this.
My brother was diagnosed with AIDS in the early nineties and started on the cocktails of drugs available at the time. He also had hepatitis C.
on the day I was coming home from a visit with him at the nursing home where he had been moved from the hospital my son was killed in a car wreck
As I was driving home from the city 911 called me on my cell phone and told me that someone would need to meet me at my house. They had my number because they knew me as they operate as our child welfare answering service (where I work). Of course they would not tell me what happened but I knew.
That said I don’t really know if a murder would have been better or worse. My brother was attacked several times in the late 1980s and nearly killed and those events were devastating. He was beaten and anally raped by police officers in New Orleans. He was left on the side of the road to die but somehow survived. Again, I could go on and on with these kinds of stories but I’ll stop here as I think I’ve described his situation sufficiently for this post.
Had he been murdered it would have been heartbreaking. But there would have been someone to blame besides myself. I always feel that I could have done more although I dedicated as much of my life to him as humanly possible. I never really had much of a life until everyone died and now I don’t really have all that much motivation to keep going myself. But I manage.
Sorry for the long post. The ten year anniversary of both my son and brother’s deaths is coming up. I can’t believe it has been that long. Some days it is a raw as it was in the beginning. Other days I can sail through pretty unencumbered.
Suicide is never easy on the survivors.