Sunday, January 13, 2013

Suicide? Please Stop For A Moment

This story in the NYT about Aaron Swartz has brought into my thoughts a topic I'd really like to leave alone, suicide. I've had my own collision with this and for various reasons I've had to go back to it and I really, really don't want to.  I will do it because I don't want other people to have to know what I know about this.  I'll use words to try to tell you about something that you won't truly understand unless you're a member of the group impacted by a suicide, and honest to god, you really do not want to ever truly understand.

We're the ones you leave behind.  We're the ones who cannot sort it out, we cannot ever know your mind.  We're left with nothing but guesses, what ifs, and whys.  Maybe you think you can leave a note that'll lay it all out, it won't.  I know, for reasons I won't go into, the blackness and despair that put you here and I'll tell you that your best efforts will not explain and fix what it is you're contemplating.  You are going to break some one's heart, you are going to crush them with a weight they cannot fix.  Someone loves you, someone really does care and you are going to do to them what it is you're thinking to escape.  If you could explain yourself, if you could express what is happening you'd be working your way out of it - the results of this act will leave the survivors in the same position.  I'm going to go with the assumption that this isn't your desired end result.

I am very close to the 25th birthday of clean and sober so I have reason to know that comebacks are possible and I do mean comebacks from a bad hopeless appearing place.  There really isn't much good I can say about that person, back then, and not many others held any hope for him - but some, in the face of all evidence, did.  Those people are there and you are not in a good position to see it, any more that I was.  What you see is not what all others see and what you think and feel is not what all others do.  You are proposing to make that decision for them, whether your life counts, and you don't get to.  Your life will count to them whatever you decide and they will have to deal with that.  The people who care don't know that you believe they don't and so you don't know that they do care.  People cannot read your mind   All the science, philosophy, and empathy in the world do not grant anyone the ability to read a mind, and you can't read theirs - either.

I do not propose to judge the morality of suicide, I don't have the right to do that - for anyone other than myself.  I do have the right to talk about the consequence of it and beyond the right I have intimate knowledge.  You can tell me and yourself that my situation is different and that I just don't understand and yes, maybe I do only have bits and pieces but I have enough to tell you that in this state of mind you cannot make an informed judgement about others' depth of caring and love.  I'm just a guy typing on the internets?  Yes,  I am that and I'll tell you that a guy not given to emotional displays is sitting here typing with tears running down his cheeks and swallowing hard.  My boy wrote that he was doing a favor for angry disappointed parents and a world he couldn't function in and I'll tell you that in the face of all that anger and disappointment my heart is broken and what was broken will never, ever heal.  I won't get over it, I'll get by it - I'll keep on because that's what I have to do and what I do, but I'll carry this for my forever.

If you're not dying of some horrid terminal disease, it is not too late to do something about it.  You cannot undo a past, you cannot fix it - but the future is indeterminate, it is not fixed.  I won't say something trite like, "you can be anyone you please," but I will tell you that you are not stuck where you are.  You may not have it at the moment, but hope can be had.

Writing this hurts like hell.  I'm doing this because if I can help save one person from having the knowledge that I have it makes an awful lot of things worth something.  I have this because my son did this and if his doing it helps someone else not do it, then that is something, anyhow.  I don't have much of him now, some photographs and memories, so if this gives something back - I'll have that also, even if I don't know about it.

Please stop for a moment and give someone a chance to show you that it matters, it'll only cost you a few minutes and a little bit of risk; really not much in the face of what you're considering.  Hell, if nothing else - I'm pretty easy to find.  Just take a moment, please.

Chuck Butcher, Nick's Dad Forever


Marna said...

Having been suicidal on more than one occasion, I can tell you with certainty that this will help someone. Very thoughtfully written. Thank you Sir. Your words are something I treasure.

Chuck Butcher said...

If any of you know someone who seems to be disconnecting, remind them that you care. That applies to all you care about, it is easy to assume they know.

Mammy said...

The pain never stops and so many lives are impacted. Beautifully written, thank you son.

scottie butcher mom said...


David in NYC said...

Chuck --

I am familiar with this from both sides. First, my brother-in-law committed suicide at 16. I know I have never gotten over it; I cannot begin to imagine how his sister, my ex-wife, feels.

Second, I have felt the urge to commit suicide myself; espeically so this past holiday season. It was only a variation of your advice from loved ones about its effect on others that stopped me.

It is tragic that you are in a place to know this firsthand, but thank you so much for sharing it. It means a lot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this, even though I imagine it was painful for you. I'll try to remember what you've said when I start thinking those dark thoughts again. It does mean something to read what you've written, even though we've never met.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this very thoughtful, heartfelt post. I can't say I know how you feel, but I have seen what my brother has gone through since his daughter died at 19. 19 months ago, I was planning to commit suicide, I really wanted to die. But, I could not do it; the only thing that stopped me was the knowledge of what it would do to my daughters. Not only the grief I would cause them, but the knowledge that they might fault themselves. I had no hope and was truly desperate. Fortunately, I found people that, despite not knowing me, truly did care, and they helped me. 19 months clean and sober, and life is wonderful now, despite not being perfect. Yes comebacks, complete turnarounds from being hopeless and terrified, are very possible. I have new friends, including a close friend whose son committed suicide 2 years ago, a friend who has also found peace and serenity in our fellowship.

God bless you, Chuck.

neal0148 said...


Written well by you and others responding.
I too have had an experience that will forever affect me. My favorite brother... I was there, to try to help him. The only thing that I can do now, to stop thinking that I didn't do the right things... is to tell myself that I did the best I could at the time and that the situation was brought on by many other circumstances beyond my control. I miss him so much, my heart aches... He was truly a good person and he did not deserve the cascade of bad luck that fell upon him. A true loss for the community.
My heart goes out to all that have been affected by the loss of their loved ones by suicide.