Death in a Friendship Group

Transcript of an online message thread - evening of 23 Dec 2017. 
The conversation is between me and my friend. 
She is working scientist and researcher.

***********

Her:

“Hi Erica. Do you know [___]?”

Me:

“Vaguely. Why do you ask?”

Her:

“Maybe you get tired of people reaching out to you like this, but I know you're an activist in the area of suicide. Her brother [died of suicide] a few hours ago. [Her spouse] called me.”

Me:”

“No. I'm tired of suicide, but not of helping. Does her brother live there nearby?”

Her:

“Bay Area.”

Me:

“Well f***. There are several very supportive SOS groups. One [15 minutes away and one an hour away]. We all have a mutual friend who attends both."

Her:

“Good to know. I'll make sure _____ and their folks know. Is it best for me to give them room now, or bring them food, or what?"

Me:

“They'll be too f****d up to get there by themselves. Can someone offer to accompany them?”

Her:

“That's a thought. Yes.”

Me:

“Actually TCF is good, too. It's for parents and siblings specifically. Not suicide specific though.”

Her:

" This looks like it would be a good resource for them."

Me:

" Here's where loss survivor groups and help can be found. "

Her:

"It's really good to know there are so many resources out there. I knew you're be a source for direction. Thank you so much."

Me:

"It's just good to sit with other people who "get it"."

Her:

"Yeah, I bet."

Me:

"Sadly some [12 step program] people are going to say some hurtful crap."

Her:

"Ugh!!!!!"

Me:

"Jargon... permanent solution bla bla bla."

Her:

"Oh god that sh** is so maddening!! I'm glad [they] have the maturity to know not to take that stuff to heart. Even still, I'm sure it can't help from stinging. "

Me:

"If you get a chance to pass this around there's a really good "how to help" sheet here."

Her:

"This is good stuff, wow."

Me:

"Ya. One more thing. Looking. [About not saying the wrong thing.] I really love that circle diagram."

Her:

"Good one! Well I have a lot of reading material now."

Me:

"You're a good friend to do this. The screwed up thing is that now [the] whole family is at risk of attempt [now]. I hate that. Self care helps so much though."

Her:

"Oh that sucks. I'm going to bed now."

Me:

"Night. Hug hug."

Her:

"Hugs back, sweet dreams."

**********

Her:

"The reading material you sent me is really helpful, thanks. I also spoke with my [spouse] about it, because years back his step mother [killed] his dad and them herself. He told about how he was overwhelmed by all the people coming to "help" or give their condolences, but making it all about them. He just wanted to be left alone. I love the circle diagram. Today I'm giving the family space but I put out there that we'd be happy to cook a roast for them (interestingly, that was one of the suggestions in the reading material, and we happen to have bought an extra roast this year). Asked them if they've had to change their Christmas plans - could maybe bring them the roast tomorrow. I'll pass [my friend] your links in a few days, I think."

Me:

"Ahh. Yep. Some people are out of my  life, because of their rudeness after my daughter died. The family won't be hungry for days, but you can feel free to cook the roast and drop it off in a container they can freeze. Let's see... things that helped us - someone from AlAnon organized food and places for family to stay via mealtrain. Well, I think that's how they did it. ((Hugs))"

Her:

"Oh - good idea!"

Me:

"They were great."

Her:

"AlAnon would have it wired, I should think. A good balance, if they're walking the talk."

Me:

"Plus it gives everyone a job without confusion. We appreciated it."

Her:

"My kid's school did something like that when my child was in school and a school mate suicided. Organizing effort. It seemed to work really well."

Me:

"Here is the AFSP/AAS recommended wording - " attempted suicide," "died of/by suicide." No repeating method. No "committed." If you have to write any kind of message that others will read, use Reporting On Suicide."

Her:

 

"I was wondering about that, thanks. I was about to write the method but changed it. I saw "suicided" as a past tense verb in some of the things you've posted on FB, so thought that might be correct. Good to know."

Me:

"It's a hard thing to figure out. - yes - Method description causes contagion. Nobody knows why yet. Because suicide attempt survivors have never freaking been studied. Gah. Imagine where cancer survival would be if nobody had asked how they live... Suicide science is f***ing archaic."

Her:

"Wow, and the death rate from suicide is so high! I believe I saw a statistic where the majority of gun deaths are by suicide. I guess it really does get swept under the rug."

Me:

"And the attempt rate is 25:1 for children from ages 9-17, and 12:1 for adults. It's not only tragic, it's obscenely expensive for communities. If you know any researchers who please tell them that AFSP.org is always looking."

Her:

"What does that mean - there are 25 times more suicides among 9-17 than other age groups? That's astounding."

Me:

"25 attempts per 1 death."

Her:

"oh! wow. I see - so, medical costs."

Me:

"Medical, loss of work for family, lasting disability from attempts...Loss of revenue for schools... poverty increase..."

Her:

"Ah, yes. Wow. The only researchers I know are wildlife and conservation biologists, but I will keep that in mind."

Me:

"K. Gotta go love. I'll be home later tonight."

Her:

"Oh, good timing. Okay, have a great day!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erica Kitzman