Hello. We’ve never met. There’s really only one reason for this. Roughly a month before your sister and I started dating, you decided to shoot yourself in the face with a shotgun.
Now, I knew your sister a little bit before this happened, so I can’t speak much about her emotional health prior to your suicide, but I can testify that it’s been atrocious since. She’s better now, but she was devastated. Your mom was devastated. You shattered your father and he’s still not recovered.
Your sister lost herself in alcohol for a while because that was the only way she could deal with the pain. She sank into deep depression. She ended up on antidepressants and sleeping pills. I was her shoulder to cry on for quite a long time and I felt entirely helpless. There are no words to console someone whose brother decided that his life wasn’t worth living and, without thought of those who loved him, ended his life.
It first I felt sad for you. I felt sad that you were in a place in your life that you thought this was the only way out. As time went by and the hurt of your family never lessened I started to become angry. Every July when your birthday rolls around your sister becomes depressed and inconsolable. Every November (the anniversary of your death) is the same only to deeper levels. I again feel helpless as I watch her struggle with your suicide. She kills herself trying to figure out why she didn’t see any signs. Why she didn’t see it coming. What could she have done to prevent it?
The worst thing is when these times of year roll around now she doesn’t even talk to me about it any more because I wouldn’t understand since I’ve never been through anything similar.
I get pissed at you about other things, as well. Like having to answer the questions of my children when they finally learned how you had died. Why would someone kill themself, they asked? How the fuck should I know? But what’s gonna kill me has yet to come. Your nephew (who is named after you, by the way) is eventually going to find out that his uncle killed himself. I’m going to have to explain this to him one day and answer his inevitable questions. I get pissed when I see the pain your death still causes.
You’ve totally changed my view of suicide. I used to think that if people wanted to kill themselves that we should just let them. In this country you have a right to life and how you live it (or don’t) is totally up to you, in my old opinion. I still feel that way to an extent, but now I view suicide as the ultimate act of selfishness. Your life may or may not have been tough. I don’t know because I never knew you. But you obviously never considered how your death would affect the lives of those who loved you. You shattered a small community of people. Over the years I’ve met people who knew you and to a man (or woman) they’ve all said that you were a wonderful person and it makes me wish I got to know you. Fuck, I’m getting a lump in the back of my throat right now while I’m writing this. I guess I never realized how strongly I felt about this until I took the time to write it all down.
Ever since your death we make a trip up to UC (University of Cincinnati) every October for the annual American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walk. Every year your sister leads a team and raises money for AFSP in the ultimate hope that one day we will understand depression, which is the leading cause of suicide. Every year right before the walk they hold a moment of silence to remember those who’ve been lost. And every year during that moment I watch as your sister and mother ball and there’s nothing I can do to help them. I hug them tightly, but there’s nothing I can say so I sit there and seethe. Things didn’t have to be this way.
You would have turned 38 last week. You’ve missed out on knowing my twins, whom my wife assures me you would have loved and they, in turn, would have loved you. You’ve also missed out on knowing your nephew. And it fucking sucks.
I hope you’ve found peace wherever you are, but I highly doubt that you have. Maybe one day, if what the Bible says is true, we’ll meet in the afterlife.
Rest in peace,