The Forever Decision

by Paul Quinnett
Chapter 16

I’m pretty sure you will not like what I have to say in this chapter. What I have to say may make you feel a bit guilty about the thoughts you have given to ending your own life. But that is okay with me. As I said in the beginning, I promised you an honest book and it is too late to turn back. Now let’s find some answers to the "what if" question… as in, "What if I killed myself?"

Some people might argue that talking about what happens to the people you leave behind if you kill yourself may invoke more guilt in you than you can handle. I don't believe this is true.

What I do believe is that if you intend to take your own life then you ought to know, as much as is possible, what all the consequences of such an act are, including the likely consequences to others if you die.

Who are the others? They are your parents, your children, your brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends and loved ones, the people at school, the people at work -literally everyone who knows you. Because no other word describes them as well, the professionals in my field have chosen to call these people victims. Survivors of suicide, they are victims because, to one degree or another, they will suffer because you have killed yourself. Some of them will need love and understanding to recover from the tragedy of your death. The closer they are to you, the more they will suffer. And none will suffer more than your family and blood relatives.

I have talked to many suicidal people who lie to themselves. They lie to themselves because they need to, because it is the only way they can justify killing themselves, knowing, as maybe all suicidal people do, that when they intend to hurt themselves, they will also hurt others. Here is how one young girl lied to herself.

"I see myself lying in a casket. I am in my blue dress and my hands are folded over my chest. I can see my parents and my friends standing around me. They are crying."

"What are they saying?" I asked.

"They are saying how beautiful I look, how peaceful I seem. My sister is saying, 'I know Renee is happy now.’"

"What else are they saying, Renee?"

"That they will miss me."

"Are they saying they wish you hadn't killed yourself?"


"Are any of them angry?"


At this point I interrupted what we call a guided fantasy and brought Renee back to the real world. I brought her back to tell her what her funeral scene might really be like. Yes, her parents and sister and friends would be crying and saying those thoughtful things about how peaceful she looked, that she was still, in death, so young and beautiful and, yes, wasn't it a shame that she had died before her life really began?

But underneath all of these carefully worded expressions of love and affection, something else is going on in their hearts and minds.

They are shocked. They cannot believe what has happened. They are numb and in pain. It is as if they are caught up in a nightmare and, when they awake, the nightmare goes on and on. Feeling confused and dazed, they wonder if they will ever get over your death or if things will ever be normal again.

They are sad. Once the shock and the numbness wears off, the survivors of suicide enter a time of great and unremitting sadness. Unprepared as they are, the pain can be physical, and despite an occasional good day or light moment, the sadness sweeps over them, again and again.

They are angry. Though they wish not to be, they cannot help but feel anger toward you. You have taken something precious from them and there is no getting it back.

They are angry with you for cheating them, for rejecting them, for not giving them a chance to help you heal from what was troubling you. If they were in the wrong, then by your death you have taken away any opportunity for them to try to make things right.

They can't apologize now. They can't learn to listen now. By your suicide, you have deprived them of any chance to understand you or to love you. And so they feel a terrible anger toward you - an anger that will fade in time, but will be there, in the back of their minds, for the rest of their lives.

Because of this anger, they will feel guilt. They know it is wrong to be angry with you, but they will feel this anger anyway. And when they do, they will feel guilty for being angry with you. This is no passing guilt. This is guilt that will haunt them, not for just a week or a month, but for the rest of their lives. They will wonder what they did wrong, but they will also wonder why you chose to hurt them as you did.

They may come to hate God. And they will feel guilt about this, too.

Their life will never be the same. Once you have killed yourself, it is as if you have taken all the happy photographs of you in your family's album and written the word SUICIDE in black letters across your face. Nothing, but nothing, will ever be the same for them again.

Among the things that can happen to those you leave behind are the following:

1. They may become suicidal themselves. Out of a need to escape the pain they are feeling, they may wonder if suicide is a good solution for them, too. Some survivors have even thought to kill themselves to join the one who has died. Children are especially vulnerable.

2. They may feel they are going insane or losing control. Their world has been suddenly and inexplicably turned upside down and shattered and, as was true of Humpty Dumpty, no one and nothing seems able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

3. Because of the shame they feel, they may not be able to turn to anyone to talk to through their pain. They may begin to use drugs or alcohol. They may go into a long and life-threatening depression.

4. At the very least they will feel guilt and anger and confusion. They will try to remember the way you were when you were happy and they will try to salvage what memories of your life they can. But there will always be that unbearably sad ending: an ending that they can do nothing to erase.

If you are a father or a mother, you will have left something very much like a curse on your children. The curse reads: "I have killed myself. You may wish to do the same some day. By my act, you have my permission."

If you are a child, you will have stolen something from your parents, something they can never replace. You will have stolen the future they dreamed for you, the satisfaction that might have come to them to see you grow into an adult and succeed where they may have failed. One father said of his only son's suicide, "He has stolen my grandchildren from me. He has put an end to our family name.”

If you are a husband, you will have said of your marriage, "She failed me!" Or, if you are a wife, your suicide might say, "Look how he treated me! I had to kill myself!" Either way, the one you once loved may never be able to forgive you for the way you publicly denounced your relationship. Maybe their distress is what you want. I don't know. But if it is, your own life is a high price to pay for striking back in anger.

If you are a brother or a sister, you will have said that no matter how close you were to each other, you were not close enough. And you will have set for them an example. A friend of mine whose brother attempted to kill himself said to me, "I was so mad at him, I threatened to kill him myself if he ever tried something like that again."

There is one other thing your survivors will experience: sudden loss, sudden pain, and sudden grief. There is a difference between natural and unnatural death. The one we can bear and learn to live with because, as we become aware of death through the natural death of someone we know and love, we come to accept our own deaths and hope to approach them with grace and dignity.

But with unnatural death, with sudden death, with suicide, there is no time to prepare for this loss. We are caught cold. And we are left with questions, questions no one can answer for us.

After the fact, we wonder and we wonder and we wonder. "What if?" we ask. "If only?" we ponder. "Couldn't we have had just one more hour or one more day to talk you out of it?" "Isn't there something that could have been said or done that would have made all this pain and agony unnecessary?" We wonder. We wonder....

In a word, none of us is prepared for sudden and unnatural and usually violent death by suicide. Accidents that kill people are tragedies. Suicides, by comparison, are double tragedies - because, of all sudden deaths they could have been prevented.

Even though you may, at some level, understand what I have written here there is, in my opinion, no way that you can ever completely prepare those who love you for your suicide. You may try, but you will fail. The most elaborate suicide notes or explanations or warnings can never comfort the pain those you leave behind will endure. You will be fooling yourself if you think otherwise.

Helen's Story

One mother I worked with had decided to kill herself on Christmas Eve. She had been frustrated and angry with her husband and family and, even on her best day, her life was just barely tolerable. She was depressed and lonely and felt no one would, or could, listen. Hopeless of ever being understood, her plan was to wait until everyone had gone to bed, take an overdose, and lie down near the presents under the Christmas tree where, she imagined, her family would find her in the morning.

I have heard many suicidal plans but this one, frankly, made me angry and I told Helen so.

"Why are you upset?" she said. "I'm the one who is going to die."

"What are you saying to your family? I asked.

"That I love them," she said.

"Love them?"

"Well, when I am gone and out of the way, they'll be able to get along much better. They won't have me nagging at them anymore. Don't worry," said Helen, "they'll get over it."

"I hardly think so," I said. "It seems to me you are saying, 'Look what you've done to me! I've killed myself!' And you are saying so in a way they will never forget."

"How?" asked Helen.

"Because they will never have another Christmas that won't be spoiled by your suicide. There will be no cheer in the holiday season or, if there is, it will be a long time coming. Maybe a couple of generations from now they will forget how you died."

Because of her anger Helen had picked what was traditionally the happiest day of the year for her family on which to kill herself. Only after we talked long and honestly about what this would mean to her husband and children did she come to see and accept that her anger toward them and herself was real and powerful and destructive. I told her that by setting such an example, she was putting a loaded gun into the hands of her children, a gun they might one day point at themselves.

This frightened Helen. "I didn't think...," she said. "I didn't think of it that way."

But as Helen came to understand, in full, what the consequences of her suicide could be to those she said she loved and how her victims would suffer, and how long they would suffer, she began to understand the depth of her anger. Then, with help, she began to do something positive about it. And as she saw things start to change, Helen quit her suicidal plan. With time, her life began to turn around.

Helen, like so many others, was at heart a decent and loving person. But like many others who get caught up in the logic of suicide, she had missed seeing all the parts, all the possible endings, all the consequences. Blinded by her anger and pain, she could not foresee all that would come to pass if she carried through her plan. When she did begin to see the true damage she could do, she came to realize that she was not just killing herself, but killing the ones she loved as well.

If, by chance, you are thinking as Helen thought and that, for your own reasons, you will kill yourself to get even with someone or to show them that they failed you in some way, then consider what Helen said to me. "I guess I wanted to hurt them. I wanted them to know how much they were hurting me. I guess I thought that if I left them I could show them how I could hurt them more than they could hurt me. I never thought of killing myself as selfish. Now I know it is."

I can't know your reasons for thinking about suicide. They may make sense to you just now. They might even make sense to me if you could tell them to me. But no matter how good or plausible or reasonable your reasons may be, I hope you will understand that suicide is not a single, quiet thing you do only to yourself. Rather, it is like pulling the pin on a hand grenade while you are surrounded by everyone who knows you.

Yes, some of those people may not like you, some may even hate you; but some of them do care about you and some of them love you. True, you may succeed in killing yourself when you pull the pin, but as surely as the hand grenade explodes, it will send fragments into all those around you and they will be victims, too. Innocent ones. For your sake, and theirs, I thought you ought to know.

This is Chapter 16, The People You Leave Behind from a book called 'The Forever Decision', I read this book because I am a survivor of suicide. My name is Jennifer and on August 9, 2008, my best friend Patrick killed himself at my house. While I was sleeping, Patrick made sure his vehicle was parked right outside my bedroom window he then took the hose off of my Shop Vac, attached it to the exhaust pipe and put it  through the back window of his vehicle. After sending me a message that said I was the reason, Patrick started the engine, crawled into the back seat and went to sleep forever.

The Chapter you read above from the book is not just bullshit, it's not just some lame ass talking shit about something he knows nothing about. This Chapter is so far the most accurate I have read since Patrick took his life, the most accurate in describing the hell that I have lived through these past two years.

Every single day since Patrick left has been a struggle for me, my life has been changed forever, I am changed forever and there is no working through it. Patrick claimed that no one cared or would miss him when he died, he was wrong.

I don't claim to have all the answers...I have never walked in your shoes or lived through your circumstances, all I can tell you is what I know from this end of it.

I know this was about his pain and maybe he couldn't see past his pain to consider mine, maybe the lifetime ramifications never even entered his mind but if you yourself are suicidal right now.....please pay attention to the words here because you are being given an opportunity to know first hand what those ramifications will be.

Please take the time to consider those you will leave behind, the pain won't stop with your death it will just be handed over to the ones you care about.

You can read The Forever Decision here
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