Suicide Prevention? Suicide aftercare.
I remember this day when I was about 10 years old — out in the backyard swinging and my mom received a Western Union Telegram. Those never meant good news.
Just read this post of Mom’s from 2/7/1992. Mom died of natural causes, age 93, in 2009. I’m cleaning out my studio and found a box of journals. This entry page was open in one of her notebooks:
… Of the three sisters, Alice (she was the middle one, Mom the youngest, Helen the elder) was considered the beauty and I certainly agreed — then as now. At any rate, in every family there is usually a favorite one, and Alice was that. Mother said Alice never went through the awkward stage and Dad said he thought she resembled his long dead mother.
For years and years she was the success in the family — good marriage, to a doctor, marvelous children, one of whom went to Culver Military Academy at age 7! (this incensed my mother, she couldn’t imagine sending such a young child away to military school)
We seldom saw each other after she married Tom, nor was there much communication between us after WWII. Mother supplied all the news and I believed everything Mother wrote or said.
Six months after Mother (my grandmother, I was in the sixth grade) died in a nursing home in Cincinnati, and on Alice’s child Tom’s 21st birthday, Alice took her little pistol she had shown only to my John, a child (he would have been 10) and blew her self apart. The shock and terror of this has never left me. I really thought she had it all — it has taken years to sort out all of this — much from her daughter Nancy and my niece Jane. Her life ws such a hell on earth, at age 52 she quit for good. Now I know that I, for one, never really know anyone. I always assume people are doing fine. I sometimes now have grave doubt as to my ability to ascertain what is going on with everyone I know. A case in point is Ann.
The rest of the story? Alice, it seems, was addicted to heroin. Her husband was a pre-eminent psychiatrist in Miami. My brother? He took his handy little pistol and blew himself apart in 1975 at the age of 22.
I remember all of this. Who wouldn’t? I remember this too — the doctor telling us that suicide would either…