display | more...

I knew a man who committed suicide. This is, unfortunately, a true story. This account is the way I remember it though I admit that I didn't get all the details.

A large group of my friends met often at one couple's house. This ended when the couple broke up. At the time I didn't know why they'd split up though at least one of the reasons became clear later. After the split, the man got at least partial custody of their five or six year old son. To help pay the mortgage he had rented out one of the rooms in his house.

One day, his roommate found his son crying after a small household accident but he was nowhere to be found. Knocking on the bedroom door and hearing nothing, the roommate opened the door and saw him attempting some form of sexual relations with the six year old girl from next door.

The severely freaked out roommate told him that he was going to move out immediately and call Child Protective Services. The man asked his roommate to reconsider calling CPS and promised to contact a spiritual advisor about dealing with the issue. The roommate said that he wanted to talk to the advisor, too, to verify compliance.

The man called his advisor, a friend regarded highly in our group, and asked that everything he said be protected as if said in a confessional. After obtaining the promise, he told the story of how he was in love with the neighbor girl and that he'd always been attracted to young girls. He didn't think he was doing anything wrong though he did know that society would condemn him for it. He promised to end the liaison. His confidant also talked to the roommate to confirm the story.

His confidant, after grappling with the issue for several days and trying to balance the promise of privacy with the need to protect the community (there were families with small girls in our social group), came to the reluctant conclusion that CPS had to be called, informed the man of the decision, then attempted to reach the son's mother to come pick him up.

The next morning, the son looked for his dad and found him in the garage in a running car. He couldn't wake up his dad and called for help. The man died later in the hospital.

The traumas and travesties of this event (in no particular order):

  • The man is dead.
  • The son has no father.
  • The son found his father dying.
  • The son knows his father killed himself.
  • The son could have died, too, if the fumes had overcome him in the garage.
  • The man abused the girl next door.
  • The girl probably underwent a lot of damaging therapy to prevent worse damage from the abuse.
  • The man abused the trust of his confidant and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.
  • The confidant feels responsible for instigating the suicide.
  • The man abused the trust of his roommate and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.
  • The roommate feels responsible for instigating the suicide.
  • The man left his son, neighbors, parents, and friends with a lot of grief, embarrassment, and rage.

Had the suicide not been attempted or if it had failed there would have been some differences.

This alone would be better:

  • The man would not have been dead (unless he was killed in prison, a common fate for offenders tagged as short-eyes).

These might be better only if the man did not attempt suicide:

  • The son would not have found his father dying.
  • The son would not have risked dying in the garage.
  • The confidant would not feel responsible for instigating the suicide attempt.
  • The roommate would not feel responsible for instigating the suicide attempt.

These would have been the same:

  • The man abused the girl next door.
  • The girl probably underwent a lot of damaging therapy to prevent worse damage from the abuse.
  • The man abused the trust of his confidant and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.
  • The man abused the trust of his roommate and put this person in an untenable legal and moral position.

These might be worse:

  • The son would have no available father if he went to jail.
  • The son knows his father tried to kill himself (if he had attempted suicide).

This would have been a lot worse:

  • The girl and her family would have been put through a criminal investigation with lots of experts with a lot more lingering effects than with the rapid culmination with the man's suicide.
  • The man's son, neighbors, parents, and friends would have experienced a lot more grief, embarrassment, and rage.

All things considered and given the severity of his situation, suicide was probably his best option -- not a good option, just the best of a bunch of bad ones.