Are you contemplating suicide? Help is available. Please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Do you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide? The topic of suicide is difficult to discuss for many people, so it may be hard for you to know what to say or do to comfort your friend. You can always start with the caregiving basics of praying and listening. Simply “being there” is a wonderful way to show you care.
I recently read the book Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler. In the chapter on suicide David Kessler shares a letter that a young man named Robert wrote to his parents and brother shortly before Robert died by suicide. That letter helped me clearly see Robert’s pain. It helped me, in some small way, understand why Robert chose the action he did.
The letter also gave me an “aha!” moment as it relates to caring for those who grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide. After some time has passed, perhaps you could share the letter below with the grieving. The key message of Robert’s letter, according to David Kessler was, “For those he left behind, Robert left a clear message that it wasn’t their fault. His words helped them understand that pain was the cause of his death, not anything [the family] did or did not do.”
Here is the letter:
Dear Mom, Dad, and Gregory,
If I am successful and can go through with it this time, I want you to know I am really sorry, but I have no more hope for myself. I feel so stuck in the deepest of ruts. I want to free myself from all this misery I’ve put upon myself. I have forever lost myself, my soul, and my purpose in life. I don’t know what is right anymore.
I am worn out from thinking so negatively and being unable to free myself from this torture. I feel so much fear around others. I’ve thought of lots of ways to kill myself, yet always think about you guys, Mom, Dad, and Gregory, and have really been fighting it with everything I have. Sometimes I think there is hope for me, but then I start doubting myself. I know this seems like the weakest of things to do and it probably is. Yet I really feel damaged, and it’s nobody’s fault but mine. I am so sorry for all that I am putting you all through, something that is so unfair and not really respectable, but I am weak, and I don’t think I’d make it. I’m hoping if I go through with this, God will understand. The worst loss to me is you guys, my family, and yet I don’t know any other way to make it better. I feel so sick for all, but I can’t change this feeling inside my head. I am so sorry, Mom. I love all of you. It’s just time for me to rise above this planet and free my soul from the torture I’m putting on it and have put upon you. I wish I could describe what I feel inside. . .the anger, the pain, and my inability to connect with it or to make it better.
Love is all I wanted. At least this is what I feel like now, and I don’t have love within anymore. I have terror of myself as not being the loving person that I am. It’s not me. I don’t even know me anymore. I tried, and this is nobody’s fault but my own. Yet if I could show you how much I love all of you, I promise I will, just not in this matter. I will do it in spirit. I hope God looks after me, and I hope he understands and forgives me. I am going to miss you so much that I want to stay and work out these problems. I can’t do this. I can’t stop the flow of energy, but God is just no help anymore. I feel stuck. I’m so upset that I have not done anything in life. I feel totally academically incapable. I am sorry, and I love all of you. Please forgive me. It was not any of you. It is all me.
If you found this letter meaningful, perhaps it would be helpful to share with those who are grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide. It may be a healing message to them to know that their loved one’s suicide was not their fault.
For more information on this topic, please see our blog posts on caring for those affected by suicide.