A brother in trouble.
August 18, 2013 7:41 AM   Subscribe

A brother in trouble. Author John Niven reflects on the suicide of his brother.
posted by ClanvidHorse (15 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Good grief. Searing.
posted by pjern at 7:54 AM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Searing indeed.

I very much hope I never have to go through anything like that.
posted by flippant at 8:07 AM on August 18, 2013

posted by oceanjesse at 8:17 AM on August 18, 2013

Heartbreakingly honest. I would expect nothing less.

posted by blurker at 8:39 AM on August 18, 2013

"If he did somehow come out of the coma, there would be nothing left of the person we'd known. A person, I remember thinking (and God help me), who had ever but slenderly known himself."

I love that. Painfully.
posted by Gorgik at 8:44 AM on August 18, 2013

Suicide is a cluster bomb. A daisy-cutter. It levels everything around it. Actually better to say it is a nuclear bomb – for it entrains a chain reaction with an incredibly powerful half-life.

That explains the last 15 years of my life pretty well.
posted by nevercalm at 8:52 AM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by snowleopard at 8:54 AM on August 18, 2013

That was really harrowing to read, forget living it.

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:07 AM on August 18, 2013

Mod note: Deleted a few comments - please be sensitive to the subject and your fellow Mefites. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:08 AM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mr. Niven seems to write the sort of thing I'd like to read. Feels very odd to have discovered him this way.
posted by Gin and Comics at 11:55 AM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

The waste.

My brother committed suicide. Each and every death is different.

All I can think of is the waste. Each and every reaction is different.

posted by BlueHorse at 12:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

A friend hung himself a little over two years ago. We both go over and over what we could have done for him, but he aggressively refused all help. He was in a dark place and we could not shine any light there.

He was young, early 30s. At his funeral, I was ok until the goddamn picture slideshow of him as a beautiful smiling child, before I even knew him. There was a point in his life when he wasn't doomed, and a point where he was, and I still don't know how anyone could have kept him from going from one to the other. His family was fucked up, but so are lots of them. He made mistakes, but many make worse. He had demons, but so do lots of people.

I think Mr. Niven is too hard on himself. Writing that cheque might not have helped anything, only delayed it. Depression and mental illness is a monster that we still don't understand or know how to fight. Especially when it comes paired with intractable diseases like cluster headaches or (as for another of my friends) sleep disorders, and of course addiction.
posted by emjaybee at 12:34 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

posted by epj at 12:54 PM on August 18, 2013


My lifelong best friend killed himself. I know that I could have probably averted it (for the third or fourth time, if not more, in our long, long, but ultimately not long enough, friendship), if I'd got around to calling him back when I meant to, and heard in his voice that he was in that dark place again. I tortured myself with that knowledge for a long time. But ultimately you have to accept that it wasn't your fault. Depression is a terminal illness for some people.

But it still hurts. And this article hits very, very close to home.
posted by biscotti at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

My brother killed himself twenty years ago.. twenty-one in late September, a difficult anniversary as I find myself trying to ignore it while my wife forces me to recognize it.. she's probably doing the right thing. He shot himself with my father's shotgun, a day after calling and leaving a message for me. I've always wondered if things would have been different if I had been home to talk to him -- we were never close, we were drifting apart, but.. maybe? Yes? No?

I can't get through this article. My sense is the only consistent part of suicide for the survivors is the devastation. Niven's writing about grief "weighing more than her soul" is what stops me from reading this.. I remember vividly a moment when my girlfriend and I were talking, a week or two after his death, and her remarking that I was being too closed with my feelings. I told her I felt like my feelings were a huge weight, an upside-down iceberg trying to push it's way into my life -- if I let just the tiniest bit in I wouldn't be able to stop it, and I wouldn't be able to handle the rest.

Anyway. I never write, and I don't mean to be narcissistic -- very few people will read this -- but the act of writing this is vaguely cathartic. That iceberg is still out there. Melted a lot, God knows, my memory of him is a series of vignettes at this point rather than any coherent narrative, but I have an uncomfortable feeling that dwelling on that memory would be a bad idea.

Ah well. All power to John Niven, I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone.
posted by DoubtingThomas at 4:59 PM on August 18, 2013 [14 favorites]

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