Friday, November 06, 2009

My Friend Committed Suicide

He was a brilliant programmer, and he had everything going for him. He was very successful.

I'm crushed because I know I could have helped if only he had given me a chance. He never did.

We in the programming world aren't always the most emotionally balanced. I know of three others who took their lives in the programming world. I've hinted at this before on my Bipolar Lisp Programmer post. To compound matters, our society has been moving away from personal interaction and responsibility for decades, leading to a culture that is toxic.

Mother Theresa said that the greatest poverty that she ever saw was to see people who felt unloved. If your friends are feeling unloved, please reach out to them. We are each far more loved than we think. In the programming world, it's so easy to get caught up in petty struggles, like Pylons vs. Django, Ruby vs. Python, free software vs. open source, Linux vs. pretty much everything else ;) What we forget is that we're all people with hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities. We're all trying to change the world, but as Mother Theresa said, "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."

Look out for each other, but if you have no where to turn, contact me! Call me directly at (925) 209-6439. Don't consider the middle of the night an inconvenience. When else am I going to work with five kids around ;) I will do everything I can to help. I don't want to wake up on another day to find another brilliant mind missing from this great community of thinkers. We are a community and we are only as great as the individuals that thrive and share with one another in that community. Everyone contributes, whether in small ways or large, and every loss is felt by more people than we consider in our moments of darkness.

48 comments:

Ian Kallen said...

Sorry for you loss.

Peter B Marks said...

In the RSS feed it looks like you committed suicide. You might want to expand the title a little. Nice sentiments in your post though.

metapundit.net said...

I'm sorry JJ...

Vicky T said...

I'm sorry too.

Next weekend I'm attending a memorial for a colleague who did the same thing.

Hugs,
Vicky

Honestpuck said...

Losing a friend to suicide is a tragic shock. A close friend of mine battled schizophrenia for ten years before taking her life and I felt I hadn't done enough. I was wrong, of course. Sometimes there is nothing you can do.

I also battle the black dog and at one stage feared for my own life. I can tell you that it was a few friends who walked beside me that kept me here.

(It was strange to come to your blog from the Planet Python RSS feed to discover an old colleague, Peter, had been here before me. A small smile.)

Tony

Anonymous said...

Like yourself, I am a Python programmer - we might have even exchanged a few words on an IRC or two.

In 2007 I was admitted to hospital suffering from severe depression and stress, following the death of my father, the breakdown of my marriage and the collapse of my career. To my surprise, almost all the other men on my ward were in IT !

As a society we are becoming increasingly isolated. The lack of empathy is everywhere - look at the cruelty of shows like American Idol and other "reality" TV. Software developers exhibit this more than any other profession I know - we are often blunt and nasty towards others for the smallest error (I'm no angel here myself) while we are unable to articulate our hurt and loneliness. Perhaps it's because of the high incidence of Asperger's, or just the fact that we spend all day with machines.

Perhaps we need some kind of equivalent to the Samaritans in the UK - a site, IRC channel, whatever - where we can discuss our feelings under anonymity, ask for help and give help in return. Perhaps we can do something about the high incidence of mental illness and suicide in our profession.

Honestpuck said...

Anonymous,

Your comment was uncanny at the chord it struck. My darkest hour was 1995, when my marriage collapsed, my father died and my ex-wife moved herself and my daughter 100 miles away and my career collapsed.

The parallels are scary.

// Tony

RichSkyline said...

Thank you for this post. I constantly want to remind those around me that the few close relationships we have are far more important than we realize when we're busy with our daily stressful lives.

Carl Trachte said...

JJ,
This is very sad. For a thoughtful individual like yourself, sadder so.
You've probably done as much as anyone can by alerting people to the fact that this happens, is happening, and happens a lot, especially in the programmer community.
Trite, but all I can say is, man, what a shame.
Hang in there, JJ.
Carl T.
P.S. to the folks who posted their personal stuff, thank you; that, for me, is helpful. CBT

SDC said...

I'm very sorry for your loss.

You are right, we really need to look out for each other. There is a lot of isolation in the world and especially in this field. Anonymous' story about encountering so many IT people in the ward drives this point home.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Sorry for you loss.

Thanks.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> In the RSS feed it looks like you committed suicide. You might want to expand the title a little. Nice sentiments in your post though.

Thanks. Fixed.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Next weekend I'm attending a memorial for a colleague who did the same thing.

So sorry.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Losing a friend to suicide is a tragic shock. A close friend of mine battled schizophrenia for ten years before taking her life and I felt I hadn't done enough. I was wrong, of course. Sometimes there is nothing you can do.

I know that my friend had had a friend who had committed suicide.

> I also battle the black dog and at one stage feared for my own life.

If you ever need help, just ask.

> I can tell you that it was a few friends who walked beside me that kept me here.

Yeah, I had another friend who said he helped his friend not commit suicide. There was a group of friends that made this guy take a shower, eat some food, get on a plane, and start a new life at a new job. Years later, that guy said that his friends saved his life.

> (It was strange to come to your blog from the Planet Python RSS feed to discover an old colleague, Peter, had been here before me. A small smile.)

Happy times ;)

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Like yourself, I am a Python programmer...

Anonymous, are you doing better now? If you still need help, maybe I can help.

You're right. Our profession leads to broken families, and our culture is toxic for our mental health. On top of this, we're careless of each other's feelings over the most meaningless things--like whitespace!

I think one thing that really helps me is to stop thinking about my problems and start thinking about other people's problems. Often times, they're much easier. For instance, it only takes a few hundred dollars to send an orphan in Uganda to school for a whole year. It only costs $50 to buy a bag of rice that feeds hundreds of starving people in Haiti. Our money can literally mean the difference between life and death. Donating blood is an easy way to give your life to people locally. (Of course, you have to donate to places that match your ethics.)

A year or two ago, I was frustrated that I hadn't achieved anything major like Linus Torvalds or Guido van Rossum. That's when I realized, "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> This is very sad. For a thoughtful individual like yourself, sadder so...

Thanks, Carl. Especially in the FOSS world, I think there's the potential to be more caring to each other.

It's important to remember that Stallman really started GNU because of crushing loneliness. All of his friends founded a company and left him out. Not only could he not be in the company, he couldn't even participate in the code because it was closed source.

I know that Stallman isn't the most loving person in the world--I think it's a mental condition of some sort. However, I know that even someone as gruff as Stallman needs to feel wanted--which is why I gave him a hug the one time I met him ;)

writeson said...

JJ - My heart goes out to you, and by connection, I hope it reaches out to your friend's family and friends. Having battled severe depression myself, I know how helpless it can make those who care for you feel. But it does help, like many things, in mysterious ways. Honor your friend by remembering his life, not his loss.

bsergean said...

I also lost a friend who committed suicide a while ago (3 years ago I think). That was very hard, I still think about him every once in a while with great sadness. I wish I could have helped him but I had no clue he would do that. Now I think the best you can do is just to love your entourage. My father once told me "Les gens il faut les aimer vivant", which means People should be loved when they are alive. I think it's a good one.

Cheers,
- Benjamin

Anonymous said...

JJ - yes thank you, back on my feet, in a happy new relationship. That doesn't mean to say that life is perfect - I have two children from my previous marriage who I don't get to see too often (and one of the reasons I'm keeping anonymous on this blog post). But life is better and I have a better perspective on things, perhaps in a way that might help younger people in our profession before they make the same mistakes.

jdm said...

I'm sorry, jj, for the loss of your friend and for your feeling of helplessness. I'd like to support your comment that helping others can relieve pain. Compassion for others and compassion for oneself go hand in hand. I have found this interview with Thich Nhat Hanh very helpful when times are rough.

Medijoker said...

The essay about the bipolar lisp programmer is really good, but I'm not sure if talking is really that effective. The effect of talking is just temporarily. People still has to deal with the same society when the talk is over and most of them know that. Besides, you really have to be careful with treating everybody that's "depressed" the same way. Some people need friends (or be hospitalized) when everything goes wrong, like some above, other really need encouragement to seek professional help because they're sad and cynical even though most things in their lives go just fine.

I can really recognize myself in the essay. Especially the part about the transition from high school to university and thinking most people are just fonies. I dropped out and I almost never finish something I start. I'm really busy with learning Python now, so that's where I came along your blog.
I really tried not to be cynical.

I'm really sorry for your loss.

Walter Cruz said...

"We ought not to grow tired of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed." - Brother Lawrence

(Don´t know if you believe in God or don´t, but as the Bible says, God is love, and I see that you believe in love - pratical love)

Greetings from Brazil. Be brave!

tshirtman said...

Thanks for speaking about that... IT is difficult beacause you have to be very clever and dedicated to make something new and interresting, that mean that your social life is often too little if you'r passionate, and if you fail to do something "big" you may feel pointless from time to time... we have to remember why we do that, what is for a living and what is for passion, and to spend time with people.

I'm deeply sorry for you too, I hope to never have a relative to commit suicide... we have to speak more with other people in and out of IT to be more happy, even it it may appear as "lost time" it's not, it's important.

As for the guy your friends saved, we have to rememeber than we can always change everything in our life, there is no "dead end" if your are unhappy just change everything!

Anyway I hope you will be fine and that we can all help each other to go on, and to be as happy as possible!

Alex Conrad said...

I'm sorry...

Stressed Family Strong Family said...

For anyone concerned about the risk of suicide or other risks, a variety of screening quizzes are available. For example, in the case of depression: see the Beck Depression Inventory, in David Burns' book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.
Stress over time can trigger depression. Resilience is one term used to describe the ability to cope with stress and eventually get back to one's usual ability to function.
Parents, spouses, school staff, students or others interested in resilience might look at the free chapter on resilience at
http://stressedfamily.blogspot.com/2009/08/stressed-family-strong-family-chapter-1.html
or one on vicious cycles in families, such as nagging/procrastinating at
http://stressedfamily.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-to-stop-nagging-blaming-and-other.html

Ross Heflin said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Bryan Rhodes said...

Hi,

I am sorry about your loss. A year ago a friend of mine did the same thing, a week from the year marker another friend took his life after being on pain medications from a horrible car accident.

Our society has gone to a place that is going to be extremely hard to recover. People feel that once everything is taken from them that they cannot recover, and unfortunately a lot of those people take their own lives or kill themselves slowly from an addiction of some sort. It is as though society has completely removed hope and replaced it with death.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

writeson:
> Having battled severe depression myself, I know how helpless it can make those who care for you feel.

Hey, writeson, it sounds like you're doing better these days. If not, let's talk. God bless you ;)

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> People should be loved when they are alive. I think it's a good one.

Thanks, Benjamin.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> The essay about the bipolar lisp programmer is really good, but I'm not sure if talking is really that effective. The effect of talking is just temporarily.

In the emergency room, they'll administer an IV. It's not that saline solution helps you out, it's so that they can administer other things through the IV. Talking is the same way. I have to know it's a problem in order to help. If I don't know it's a problem, I can't do much of anything. If I do know, then I can try various things until I find one that works.

> People still has to deal with the same society when the talk is over and most of them know that.

True, but it's amazing how much of a difference attitude can make. Here I sit at a Starbucks table. I'm quite certain there's gum stuck under the table. It turns out that I'm happier if I don't look. It turns out I don't ever need to.

Similarly, there are starving people in Haiti. I can't feed them all. However, for those few that I can help, it makes all the difference in the world.

> Besides, you really have to be careful with treating everybody that's "depressed" the same way. Some people need friends (or be hospitalized) when everything goes wrong, like some above, other really need encouragement to seek professional help because they're sad and cynical even though most things in their lives go just fine.

Agreed. Being cynical and pessimistic is a self fulfilling prophecy. I like the saying, "People who work hard tend to be luckier." Or in hockey, "If you skate hard, you're gonna score some goals."

Life is funny. You never know what's going to happen, and you're definitely not in control. However, if you show up and work hard, good things are likely to happen.

> I can really recognize myself in the essay. Especially the part about the transition from high school to university and thinking most people are just fonies.

Reminds me of "Catcher in the Rye".

> I dropped out and I almost never finish something I start.

I find that reading a book cover to cover is a joy that lasts a long time. I might not learn anything new on that last page, but when I put the book down knowing I conquered it, it brings me lasting happiness.

The rest of life isn't always so straightforward. It's hard to know when done is done. Pick an achievable goal. Conqueror it. Move on. Rinse and repeat.

> I'm really busy with learning Python now, so that's where I came along your blog.

Ah, I can actually help with that one ;) Send me email if you have any questions. (Although be patient, I'm a bit slow with email.)

> I really tried not to be cynical. I'm really sorry for your loss.

There are some things we can't do alone. I've often heard the phrase, "I was born alone, and I'll die alone." I always wonder what the person's mother would think about that ;)

One last thing, since I know where you're coming from. You know when there's a big group of young people, and they're all smiling and laughing? It's easy to think that they're phony.

I have two responses. First of all, fake the first smile. It tells the other person that you think that they're important to you. They are! That smile will automatically make them smile. It'll set chemical reactions in both of you. You won't need to fake the second smile. You'll *feel* it.

When you see those kids laughing and smiling, it's quite jarring because that isn't how you feel, but believe me, they aren't faking it. They really are happy. You can be the same way.

Smiling that first smile doesn't make you a phony. It means you're *choosing* the type of person you want to be. Don't let your emotions define you who are. Define yourself to be a person who smiles at other people.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> "We ought not to grow tired of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed." - Brother Lawrence

Walter, God bless you! I'm a practicing, happy Catholic ;) Thanks for the wonderful quote.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

tshirtman:
> we have to speak more with other people in and out of IT to be more happy, even it it may appear as "lost time" it's not, it's important.

Thanks for the comments. I agree completely.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> I'm sorry...

Thanks, Alex.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Thanks for the resources, "Stressed Family Strong Family".

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Our society has gone to a place that is going to be extremely hard to recover. People feel that once everything is taken from them that they cannot recover, and unfortunately a lot of those people take their own lives or kill themselves slowly from an addiction of some sort. It is as though society has completely removed hope and replaced it with death.

I couldn't agree more. If you accept what this society teaches, it will kill you. You'll be happier if you reject what it teaches. Owning things won't make you happier. A big wedding doesn't make a happy marriage. Elderly people are a treasure of wisdom, not a burden on our society. An unplanned child can turn into the biggest joy you never expected. Having meals with friends is a joy that doesn't easily wear out. A beautiful wife might drive you crazy, but a patient and reasonable wife may keep you sane. Be gentle with your co-workers, even when they make stupid mistakes, because what you say will haunt or bless them for a long time. The goal shouldn't be being skinny, it should be being healthy--which is why smoking to lose weight is a bad idea ;)

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

By the way, if there are any Catholics out there, I found reading the Catechism on the subject of suicide really helpful: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a5.htm (search on the page for suicide). It really helped reorient my perspective--probably more than anything else.

casey said...

Hey JJ,

Very sorry to hear about this. We all too rarely take the time to express our love and appreciation for one another, even though it is there. It's easier just to lose ourselves in the day-to-day minutia.

Know that there are people in this world who do care about you, myself included, and we hope we can take a little bit of the pain away.

necaris said...

[Anonymous]
> Perhaps we need some kind of
> equivalent to the Samaritans
> in the UK - a site, IRC channel,
> whatever - where we can discuss
> our feelings under anonymity,
> ask for help and give help in
> return.

+1 to this; the Samaritans have been really helpful to people I know

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> Know that there are people in this world who do care about you, myself included, and we hope we can take a little bit of the pain away.

Thanks, Casey.

Anonymous said...

Hello JJ,

I am truly sorry to hear of your loss. I am posting anonymously only because I don't want what I am about to reveal to be widely available for everyone online to read (even though I wouldn't mind telling you personally). What I will say is that I am apart of the bayPIGgies group.

About ten years ago, my brother attempted to commit suicide. Indeed I am fortunate that he is still with us (and a very different -- and I should say what I consider to be incredibly wise -- person). Yet, the memory of his look of despair the hours preceding his action ... haunts me to this day. It's natural for us to wrestle with these "what if" scenarios in our mind, but as people keep saying: all too often it is unavoidable. In my case: I required hindsight to truly comprehend that look in his face.

My brother is not a software engineer. But, as one myself, and knowing several others who battle with severe depression: I too believe that us programmers have it particularly tough. We thrive on predictability: instant feedback, and the uncontrollable desire to build cool things. The natural universe has a way of relentlessly throwing monkey wrenches in the paths of people like us. Whether its a boss that is unwilling to support all but the most mundane of our efforts, being forced to use an utterly unusable software platform, facing absurd time deadlines or even being seized up due to our own dwindling motivation: it wears down even the strongest among us.

Few non-programmers truly understand exactly how coding is perceived as a spiritual endeavor, for much of us. And that makes all the much harder for us to balance these needs with basic human desires: love, well-being, the sense of importance in the world. As our minds, become at odds with our physical self: its no wondering how maddening life can become.

But as my father has told me: "suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem". It's something that has been drilled into my thought processes since my brother made his nearly tragic decision. At one level, it is important to know that despite all the empty souls out there: there are *true* support groups. People who share a common interest and look out for one another. We just have to know where to find them: bayPIGgies and folks who post on a blog such as this are examples of such a support group.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Dear anonymous BayPiggie:

> "suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem"

Thanks for your comments. That's a great quote!

The reason I posted this on BayPiggies is because it attracts the Bipolar Lisp programmer type. In subtle ways, I think we need to be there for our members so that they get more than just some technical knowhow, but also some emotional support to avoid these sorts of problems. I know I really rely on BayPiggies to make me excited again, even during the times I'm not coding in Python ;)

Jamis said...

JJ, thanks for your post. I found it while searching for the cause of death of your friend. I never heard of him before today when I began using some of his software. I suspected it was suicide considering his young age, and friends and family calling it tragic and unexpected, but no one has typed the "s"-word on any of the biography or memorial pages. There are thousands of posts on the web on your friend's death, and all anyone is willing to type is "sudden", or "tragic".

Should we not be afraid of talking about depression, suicide, and mental illness? It's the shame of suicidal ideation that prevents people from seeking help, and here on the internet; everyone who is commenting on the tragedy of his death, on their memories of him and their love of him, no one has the courage to say that he committed suicide.

This is a tragic tergiversation of will. It's a negation of the warm and sincere wishes to help the congenerically afflicted, expressed by those who knew him, by the lamentable fact that it exists under a provision of shame in acknowledging that very issue of their intended subvention. It would be a comically ironic social contradiction if it weren't such a G.D. tragedy. I have battled clinical depression all of my life. I was diagnosed in '87 at the age of seven when I told my kindergarten teacher that I wanted to die. 15% of the people with my diagnoses kill themselves eventually. That's a prognosis worse than many other diseases.

But this isn't likely to ever happen to me - in spite of my chronic self-hatred, my consistent failures in accomplishing any of my life goals, or my concomitant ADHD that afflicts every aspect of my life unbefouled by my depression and lack of motivation. All of my friends know about my mental illness, my family knows, friends of our family know, and several of my work colleagues know as well. They don't have to know any of those aforementioned personal details for me to disclose that I am afflicted with depression, and for them to understand what that means.

continued...

Jamis said...

continued...

Because I have lived with it for most of my thirty years it may be easier for me to be open about it (as opposed to people who experience a sudden onset of depression). But if everyone stops whispering the words suicide and depression rather than talking about them openly, depression as an issue may no longer be something to be ashamed of, and people like your brilliant, kind, honest, loving and well-loved friend, may not be afraid to seek help.

I wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for medication, therapy, and support. That's not a supposition; it's a fact. For people to live through these episodes, they have to be comfortable telling someone they are anxious, distressed, or despondent. For the afflicted to be comfortable enough with others knowing to mention the extant condition, regardless of feeling vulnerable, and for witnesses of the condition to be comfortable enough approaching one for whom the condition has become manifest, we as a caring and understanding society must not omit the condition of depression or the event of suicide in dialogue.

Corollary: people who do not experience depression need to learn to recognize it in others. It's unfortunate that when a person recognizes a severe or sudden onset of depression in a friend and gets help for the friend, it's usually because that person has experienced depression as well.

In college, I was the president of the largest and oldest, and probably most socially and politically active atheist student group in the country. I had a friend from freshman comp who came to some of our group meetings who joked about suicide frequently. All of his friends knew something was up; everyone knew it was weird; but if I hadn't gotten him help, I don't think anyone else would have. I set up a few job interviews for him (it took about an hour of my time, and he ended up getting one of them), I made an appointment for him to see a psychiatrist at our school hospital and I took him to it, and I introduced him to the president of our campus chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ, with whom I was good friends.

He got a job, he got in therapy, he got medication, and he found Jesus (just because I don't believe in Jesus, doesn't mean he can't help, heh.) His life literally turned around due to those four things, and due to a friend recognizing the issue and not being afraid to say 'you need help brother, and I'm going to help you get it.' In doing that, I am not special amongst the others who've replied in this thread. I know that you and everyone else who has posted here would have done the same thing. It's just tragic that his family doesn't mention the cause of his death, and that our societal conventions dictate that we respect their precedent and not mention his name and the word suicide on the same web page.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Hi, Jamis. Thanks for your comments.

> Should we not be afraid of talking about depression, suicide, and mental illness?

I am never one to shut up about anything, but I'm just trying to respect the wishes of his family. At his funeral, it was obvious that everyone knew what happened, but no one announced it publicly.

You should know that my friend was never outwardly depressed. Even his wife was surprised. He didn't seem to be mentally ill either, although he was one of those guys who lived at the intersection of crazy and genius.

I do think that one of the reasons no one mentions suicide is that suicide is contagious by the power of suggestion.

> under a provision of shame in acknowledging that very issue of their intended subvention

I don't know why they don't come out and say what happened.

> I have battled clinical depression all of my life.

I'm so sorry to hear that. That certainly must have a physiological component to it. I know that my friend checked himself into a psychiatric ward shortly before dying, but then he checked himself out.

The most I can guess is that his wife and he both worked way too hard, and they decided not to have children because they didn't want to contribute to overpopulation. That makes me hate the overpopulation myth even more.

> But this isn't likely to ever happen to me

Good! I don't think my friend realized how much we all cared for him, and how much we miss him.

> - in spite of my chronic self-hatred,

Don't hate yourself. Keep showing love to others in a small ways. Live a life of service to others and be grateful for what you have. Mother Theresa was neither strong nor particularly bright, but look at what a difference she made in the world--one loving act at a time!

> my consistent failures in accomplishing any of my life goals,

You have the wrong goals. I've never been able to bench press 300lbs or slam dunk, but I know for certain that people will miss me when I'm gone because I've made a profound impact on so many lives. Live a life of service--there are so many that you can benefit so easily!

> or my concomitant ADHD

Some of the most interesting people I know have ADHD. Sure, they have a hard time sticking to things, but they see connections where I don't. Figure out how you can use that to your advantage. I'm obsessively, compulsively anal, but I use that gift to be a great editor and code reviewer. I also suffer from pretty constant anxiety, but I've noticed that by being very anxious, I'm perfectly calm and in control when something bad does happen because I've already thought of it.

> that afflicts every aspect of my life unbefouled by my depression

I'm sure you know more about depression than I do, but I suspect a *very* healthy diet and a lot of exercise can help. Prioritize those things, and a lot of other goals will follow in suit.

> and lack of motivation.

I've noticed that jumping up and down helps with motivation.

> All of my friends know about my mental illness, my family knows, friends of our family know, and several of my work colleagues know as well. They don't have to know any of those aforementioned personal details for me to disclose that I am afflicted with depression, and for them to understand what that means.

I'm glad you have good people around you.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

> But if everyone stops whispering the words suicide and depression...

I agree. I have two friends who I found out later suffered from depression. If only they would have told me! Fortunately, one of them is doing much better for the same list of reasons you mention.

> I wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for medication, therapy, and support.

That's a good reminder.

> Corollary: people who do not experience depression need to learn to recognize it in others.

All I could see the last time I visited him was a lot of stress. I know that stress can lead to depression. I should have talked to him about his stress.

> but if I hadn't gotten him help, I don't think anyone else would have.

Good for you! I have another buddy that was able to save his friend's life like you did.

> just because I don't believe in Jesus, doesn't mean he can't help, heh.

You are a devout atheist. I am a devout Catholic. You know that believing in Jesus can improve a person's life. I have reasons for my faith and know things that I'm 100% positive you have never even heard of. If you are willing to listen, I can tell them to you. (925) 209-6439.

> His life literally turned around due to those four things,

That's fantastic, and it gives me even more hope.

> It's just tragic that his family doesn't mention the cause of his death, and that our societal conventions dictate that we respect their precedent and not mention his name and the word suicide on the same web page.

Agreed.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Here's a great post: http://hotair.com/archives/2010/02/26/a-prayer-from-the-living-world/

It ends in, "Please don’t leave us. We need you."

Anthony M. said...

I came across this and had to comment. You posted this on the November 6th of last year, and my friend too committed suicide just two days before that on November 4th. He was only 21 years old and the best friend that I've ever had in this world. We were both film majors, and I'm a couple years older than him. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it. I feel like I've lost a brother. He didn't leave a note and the hardest part was that it seems as if there wasn't a single problem that pushed him over the edge. It most have been an accumulation of smaller things that we always talked about, but I never knew was haunting him to that degree like feeling alone or rejected and problems with money for school and school itself and fear of the future. Still, he may have been Bi-Polar, but there was never any official diagnosis. He also wrote a paper a couple weeks before he died about instant and impersonal communication tools, and how that's a danger to personal interaction and communication and eventually social responsibility; so, this post hit hard in a number of ways.

I know how you're feeling, and I hope you're doing as well as someone in our situation can be doing. If you ever need anyone to talk to then please feel free to leave me a message. I am beyond sorry for your loss, and I hope you find some sort of comfort somtime and somewhere in this world.

Sincerely,

Anthony M.

Shannon -jj Behrens said...

Hey, Anthony, I'm sorry for your loss. I lost a friend, but you lost your best friend, which is far worse.

While he was alive, my friend who committed suicide told me that his best friend in college had committed suicide. Sadly, suicide is powerfully suggestive. I know it took me a couple weeks to shake off the dark funk of my emotions.

I wish everyone would realize that suicide is intrinsically evil. It hurts everyone around the person, and that hurt never completely goes away. I continue to believe that suicide happens when someone is focused entirely on their own problems instead of thinking about how they can help improve the world.

Once again, I'm sorry for your loss. Just holler if you start feeling down. We each have to work toward making this world a more caring place.