A Question Of Time

If You Are Feeling Suicidal Or Want To Talk Please Call The National Lifeline
1-800 273-8255

I look forward to reading my emails at the start of the day, it still amazes me that one can communicate by typing something, then clicking send.
I’ve long since wondered though, if in the very immediacy and ease of the communication, is simultaneously a problem.
I myself have sent some pretty dumb emails, knowing as I clicked send, that I shouldn’t have done that.
That is not to say that one would not write the same dumb thing in a letter, but, having to wait to get a stamp, or put it in the letter box in the morning, is often all it takes to retrieve the letter, tear it up and put it in the rubbish where it belongs.
Reflection, time, distance, quiet, are precious and often unrecognized and unappreciated life-enhancing and life-saving commodities.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy ordering a book on Amazon and getting it delivered to the door as much as anybody else. I see the seeming advantages. Yes seeming! We’ve become very good at clicking buttons left right and center, but we’ve done so at the heavy cost of human interaction.

Suicide rates in the last few decades have gone up, not down. Could the rhythm of our highly efficient but hectic and impersonal life have something to do with it?
I think that it probably does. Like with the difference between emails and letters, time and human contact are often all it takes for a person in a suicidal crisis, to overcome the moment. That dangerous moment overcome, and a whole world full of life opens up again.

At one thirty in the morning my son was texting a friend asking him if he wanted to go with him to Pommes Frites, three hours later, it was over. Andrew had taken his life, he had killed himself.

Would things have been different had his friend said yes instead of no? Would his friend have said no, had he received a phone a call and heard his friend’s voice instead of glancing over a message on his cell phone?
And please, don’t even think that I blame that boy, because I don’t . Of course it is only natural that as part of the thousands of what ifs, I include: “what if his friend had said yes instead of no?”
But then I include myself in the what ifs; what if I had asked him more questions? What if I had asked him why he sounded quiet the last time I spoke to him, two days before he died?
I was even in the City on Monday afternoon, the day before he died. Hugh had been showing an apartment on the upper east side, and when he came out he wondered if we should go and see the children.
But I knew that Mondays were one of Andrew’s busiest days class-wise, also, I was feeling tired, and it was close to the time when Robert would be coming home from school. So, I said no.
Only two days earlier Andrew had asked me to buy him a pair of soft leather gloves:
“It’s getting chilly,” he’d said.
“What size?” I”d asked him.
“Extra large please.”
I was already at Syms when he asked me over the phone, and I got him a pair. When I went to pay however, the line was so ridiculously long, that I just put them back and left. “I’ll get them during the week,” I told myself. “Or I’ll give him the money and he can buy them himself.”
What if I had bought him the gloves and I‘d said “yes, let’s go and see the children?”
All that goes through my mind a million times.
But the thing that gets me the most, is that for him to have been able to get to the 10th floor of Bobst, NYU’s library, there must have been a breach of security. But for you to understand what I mean, you’d have to be familiar with the premises.

The lack of sufficient security failed him, and I hold NYU responsible because, had he not been able to gain unimpeded access to the 10th floor, he would not have been able to do it!

At the cost of repeating myself, when it comes to suicide, time and opportunity have the power to make the difference between life and death.

What got me thinking in this direction this morning, was an email by a friend. The email alerted me to the death by suicide, of Peter Lopez, husband of actress Catherine Bach. Lopez was a successful entertainment attorney and his clients had included Michael Jackson.
In the photo of him and his wife that accompanies the news, he looks the picture of health and contentment.
May he rest in peace, and may his wife and children have all the help and support they’ll need on the difficult journey ahead of them.


7 thoughts on “A Question Of Time

  1. Esmeralda,
    You didnt know that Andrew was suicidal. Bruno gave us many more signs and had been to psychologists and counsellors and we werent able to save him. There were many things we should have done, that we now know after the fact. Bruno told us he wouldnt kill himself and we believed him. We spelled out to him how he could get help through his doctor and we naively thought that even our depressed son would be rational enough to ask for help.

    We now know that one of the causes of depression is worthlessness and powerlessness and hopelessness to be able to change one’s situation. So why would our son who had already been seen by two psychologists and new his doctor well, not ask for help, we thought, are rather didnt think!

    To stop Andrew jumping you he would have had to communicate that he needed help and you would have had to respond adequately. But if he had no hope that you or anyone could help why would he ask? He would avoid asking for help because that would cause more pain as in his mind you could not help him and that would cause you pain also.

    We now know that after Bruno asked for help and we helped him, it was not adequate, it didnt solve the problem, he knew that, and didnt believe that anything else would. He would have known that had we any real fear of his suicide we would have had him committed if necessary. For him that would have been worse than death. Therefore he planned his death and hid it from us for months and during that time, again very much typical of suicides, fooled us into thinking he was in control and even happy.

    That’s why we have to get to the root causes of suicide so we can pick it up before the hopelessness powerlessness and worthlessness sets in. Because once it has, stopping suicides, becomes a matter of luck, maybe timing, maybe availability of means, and we are left forever reliving our failure to stop them doing the wrong thing at the wrong time at the wrong place.

    • Dave, thank you so much for that! Thank you for the compassion that urges you to do your best to help me, and others, understand.
      If I feel such torture, what must have his been like? Just the thought that my sweet son was facing it all by himself drives me crazy. There are SO MANY layers to this particular grief. My daughter and I, the only once who can talk about this, were talking about the fact that he jumped knowing that he would die. Most of us, when we think of death, even if we are not afraid, we don’t exactly jump for joy. To take and execute steps to end your life, to murder yourself, what is going through such a mind?
      A sweet, caring, generous, compassionate, loving, funny, intelligent, altruistic and more person, this same person can execute such a violent act.
      The darkness, the paradoxical contradictions, MY hopelessness as a mother who would fight like a deranged lion to protect son and any of my children, to have been denied that chance! I was sleeping while he was walking to the place from where he jumped to his death and died. I was sleeping, my husband was sleeping, we were all sleeping and he was dying. I wish you could talk to my husband, he doesn’t believe anything other than that he personally missed something and had he not missed it, our son would be alive.
      By the way, now that you pointed it out, I can see how, if he thought that I/we could not help, he have not wanted to “trouble” us.
      Thank you Dave.
      Love to you and yours.
      SOSAD, Esmeralda

  2. Dave, your posts always inform me and raise questions.

    Bruno experienced depression. I need to understand that illness better. What do you think will help decrease suicide? How can we get at the root causes to promote wellness?

    I have a gift. I consider it a gift. The gift is the journal of my son’s last month of life. It is a stream of consciousness journal, a miniscule glimpse into the internal debate to continue living in what seemed a hopeless hell
    or end the multifaceted physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain and
    frustration of watching his mind and personality deteriorate. I want to know how to help others who might be experiencing what he did. All I know are the symptoms and conditions he described. I don’t have a name to call that cluster of experiences he described. Rayo

  3. Hello Esmeralda,
    I imagine you are sitting up in bed, with your coffee close by. typing away… I know that you’ve approached your 6 month mark and I remember how difficult it is.

    I’ve been absent lately, preoccupied with the death of my daughters grandmother. She went out well but it leaves a void in my daughters life that I will not be able to fill. We want to do all we can for them but really, we can’t. We can’t take away their pain. As much as we try… in life and in death.

    Andrew didn’t share his pain with you but what if he had? The more missed opportunities you think you had the worse you feel. I should have known. I should have been there for Kerry. I should have been the one to stop Kerry from ending his life. ME the blame rests on ME.

    YES, you still have many unanswered questions regarding the lack of security at the time of Andrews death.

    I was thinking that they know. the students, they know…. maybe not all of them but many know how to get past security. they know how to get to the 10th floor after hours. Security also knows. Security failed you but it was not deliberate. There was a person there at that desk. There was a person on patrol just as a person sold Kerry his over the counter sleeping pills.

    Warm hug and (((love)))) Shannon

    • It is nice to hear from you again Shannon, and sorry for your daughter’s loss… I pray that she rallies and embrace life.
      I know that NYU’s security didn’t deliberately fail, deliberate or not however, my son’s life is lost as a result.
      And Kerry’s too.
      Love, Esmeralda

    • I’ll always wonder if the salesclerk who sold the gun to my adult son had any inkling of how in just a few hours that gun would be used. And how did the store emplyees feel when the detective visited the store that week as part of his investigation.

      How did the police officer, who went to my son’s apartment in the morning of the day my son suicided to follow up on a concern
      reported by my sons co-worker, feel when he found out later my son was dead. The coworker called the police bc my son did not show up for work or call in sick the day before.

      How did my son conceal his thoughts so well? But his coworker sensed something! And did the best he knew.

      What if we, including my son, knew more? Would things have turned out differently?

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