Oprah, Suicide, Free Speech, and Torts

I am embarrassed to admit that I sometimes tape and later watch “Oprah” on t.v. I do not know that I am huge fan of her show, but I certainly find some of the guests she has on the show interesting. Anyway, Oprah said something last week that baffled me, as a legal matter. My responsive e-mailed to her GC drew no reply, so I come humbly to the blogosphere to see what you all might offer.

On one of Oprah’s shows last week, she interviewed the parents and sister of a 19-ish year old Florida State college student – very bright, very creative – who killed herself. The young-woman fed her kittens and cleaned her apartment, and then went to a hotel, took some variation of cyanide, and died. Before she left this earth, she sent a timed-delayed e-mail to her parents, starting off with a sentence along the lines of “As you probably know by now, I have passed away….” (The e-mail explained that she had struggled with depression, and she basically found the struggle futile.) I believe she also sent an e-mail to a friend and to the police, so that they would know where to find her body.

Though the story is tragic in and of itself, an overwhelmingly sad aspect of the story is that this young woman found information on the internet that helped her execute her suicide plan and some might say encouraged her to or at least coached her regarding following through. Specifically, she had been frequenting a “pro-choice” suicide blog (or chat board or message board or some such – allow me to say “blog”). (The pro-choice phrase came from the show.) It seems that the young woman was able to glean technical information about how to kill herself or links to information on what, specifically, to do kill herself from that blog. Worse, I believe her parents or Oprah said that this young woman was posting regularly on the blog to update the blog readers and posters about her two-week countdown to killing herself. One person on the blog actually helped her craft her final e-mail to her parents. Dear God.

There are other equally horrifying aspects to the story, but my legal question arose when Oprah, sitting on stage with the devastated parents and sister of the decedent, said something roughly along the lines of “My legal counsel tells me I have to say this: ‘Your daughter CHOSE to kill herself. It was her choice.’” Although I might be wrong on the exact words used in Oprah’s statement, she said something crystal clear to emphasize that this young woman *CHOSE* to take her own life.

I generally watch Oprah with minimal attention, at best, so I usually hear and recall only small amounts of what is covered on the show. I am usually folding laundry or organizing files or something else while keeping half an ear on the t.v. Oprah’s comment to that grieving family, however, basically screamed out to me and stopped me in my tracks. I had two immediate thoughts:

(1) Oprah did not *have* to say that for liability reasons, did she? and

(2) No wonder lawyers have such a bad public image.

I wracked my brain to figure out why Oprah was counseled to make that statement. I am assuming there were worries along the slander or defamation lines, but, since we were dealing with a blog (as opposed to the cattle industry, with which Oprah has had problems, or some other “business”), I could not imagine a “tortious interference with business” claim. Moreover, wasn’t everything Oprah said on the show loosely protected by either being (1) true or (2) Oprah’s personal opinion (uttered with no purpose to ruin a business relationship)? I am at a loss as to what significant liability concerns would mandate Oprah actually affirmatively emphasizing, when face to face with the grieving family, the point about choice (as opposed to just keeping quiet on that point and not intimating that the blog forced the young woman to kill herself). Obviously it might have made sense to tell Oprah to keep her comments away from anything sounding like she wanted to ruin a business (if we can call the blog a business). But telling her to affirmatively bring up and firmly *state* something on the “choice” issue, while sitting with the parents and sister of the decedent? That baffles me, and I cannot say that I felt a surge of warm and fuzzy feelings toward lawyers after hearing that comment.

What am I missing?

(Also, were fellow bloggers who gave the young decedent encouragement (if any of them did) illegally assisting a suicide? Am I allowed to stand below a window ledge on which a potential jumper is perched and chant “you can do it, just jump head first”? After looking quickly at New York’s penal laws, it seems that I cannot “intentionally cause[] or aid[] another person to attempt suicide.” I have not researched the issue, but I imagine “aiding” would not include chanting below the ledge “you can do it,” providing a link to a website that details techniques for killing oneself, or e-mailing a friend to say “good luck – you can do it.” Yet, given some of the mental and emotional issues at play with some suicides, I have to believe that counseling and encouraging someone who is contemplating suicide is as much of assistance as is giving someone your old bottle of rat poison to consume. Mind you, I am not a mental health professional nor do I have anything other than my own two experiences with folks who have taken their own lives to support my point.)

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25 Responses

  1. John Armstrong says:

    My (lay) take: Oprah fans are near-fanatical, and the counsel was to avoid any hint that they should get out the torches and pitchforks for retribution against such blogs.

    On a side note, wasn’t this and episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?

  2. Eric Goldman says:

    Perhaps she was worried about a false light claim by the blog cohorts based on an implication that they had contributed to murder or illegally assisted suicide? Eric.

  3. Seth R. says:

    Doing the “legal thing,” at the expense of “the humane thing” can often get you in trouble. Lawyers make the mistake of thinking that the law is absolute. As long as I am within “the law” I must be OK, right?

    This is the sort of misguided thinking that leads corporate lawyers to counsel their business clients to stonewall in silence when the press comes looking for a response to a recent controversy or scandal… even though such a strategy makes the business automatically look guilty in the eyes of all the newspaper’s readership.

    It’s the same sort of thinking that causes a personal injury lawyer to craft meticulous legal documents, all the while acting very unpleasantly with her clients.

    The PI attorney may THINK she’s protected by all the painstaking work she put in to make sure she is compliant with the law and rules of ethics. But she’s actually LESS protected than the friendly estate planning lawyer down the hall, who commits several acts of malpractice a day, but is loved by his clients (because he’s such a nice guy).

    I used to live in a small town that had recently had a controversy with one of the local doctors. Apparently, he had been performing unnecessary historechtomies on his female patients and collecting Medicaid reimbursements on them. The doctor had just skipped town, with the feds hot on his heels. It was a clear case of fraud, bad ethics, and other criminal behavior.

    Here’s the kicker.

    The majority of the townsfolk SIDED WITH THE DOCTOR.

    Turns out he was a real pillar of the community, active in the local church, and adored by his patients.

    To the last, they all maintained he had been unfairly treated and they didn’t really believe he had done all those things. In fact, they even turned on one of the doctors who tried to expose the fraud in the first place.

    There’s law, and then there’s reality. You’ll find that both your clients, and the public tend to favor reality (as they see it) over the law.

    Nice, personable lawyers generally get sued less for malpractice than mean, disagreeable ones, regardless of how competent they each are. Businesses that convey a positive image to the public tend to win over businesses that circle the wagons and scowl at the press.

    My feeling is that Oprah Winfrey may have gotten advice that was legally correct, but a gross violation of common sense. Somebody needs to inform her lawyers that they are supposed to be serving the best interests of the show, not writing essay answers to law school exams.

  4. nick says:

    “Worse, I believe her parents or Oprah said that this young woman was posting regularly on the blog to update the blog readers and posters about her two-week countdown to killing herself. One person on the blog actually helped her craft her final e-mail to her parents. Dear God.”

    Interesting that we focus on the two week period that occurred after she was practically decided on what to do (or within 2 inches of being decided on it), rather than on the 18+ years of life that led her to that situation in the first place.

    Three year old kids don’t think of committing suicide.

    Yet people lose that care-freeness within 10, 12, 15, 18 years of life. And we accept that as a fairly normal state of affairs. Dear God indeed.

  5. Double Dragon says:

    Its really sad how disconnected our family lives are these days. The girl loved everyone in her family so much that one day before she killed herself, she had to call her mother and tell her that she loved her before she died, so that her mother may never live with the guilt that she had something to do with it. Now imagine, if the same mother the girl loved so much was there for her throughout all those years her depression grew to such enormous levels, who can say she would still have chosen death over life?

    Some days in my life I am so depressed, I have a bad day at work, my car breaks down, I loose something in the bus, long and short of it, when I am approaching home I am just cursing life and all its troubles. But once I enter my home, I am welcomed by my smiling family, they ask me if I am tired and how my day was, they say they missed me all day long, and all worries of outside world just fade away. I am there with my family who love me and care for me and miss me when I am away, and I just reply, ” I am fine, my day was good, so whats up for dinner, why dont we dine out in a resturant today?”

    I am not boasting of my realtions with my family. I am just trying to say how much caring for your family members can help them push through the hard times of life. One smile, one warm hand on your shoulder can make your average day a bliss.

    The girl we are talking about was excellent in studies. What else made her so tired of life? Answer is loneliness. The pain of opening door to empty apartments is nothing anyone can deny. And the self-questioning that ” would someone will even be affected if I am not in this world?” is the height of depression due to loneliness.

    We live in a world which is rushing by, but if we take a moment to look at those who are beside us, smile at them and hold their hand, the journey is a lot easier and full of joys.

  6. annomos says:

    most peaple just don’t know what it is like these day for kids to grow up in a abuse home.the stress of school and gang not haveing a go a person to talk to.then when u tern 18 foster care dumps u out on the street to feend 4 self. i know what it like i was put in foster care and just everything i have to go throw is just killing me slow i have a brAIN TUMOR ANd in a lot of pain so i im think of tring to get a 22 to end it all brcause the pills dont work

  7. angelica says:

    Although I do not know the exact intention of Oprah saying that this young girl chose to take her own life, I believe Oprah was right in saying so. In fact, it is the truth. No one could have forced this girl to committ suicide just like no one can force us to do drugs, rob a bank or whatever. I believe that after watching that episode, millions of people would be thinking, those blogs had something to do with her suicide when indeed they did not. We cannot place blame on the blog. They may have influenced her to some extent but they did not MAKE her committ suicide. Afterall, this young girl had the final choice.

    It’s funny how we focus on the unimportant things in life rather than why this girl took her life if she was so “happy” and how we prevent this from happening in the future.

  8. mich says:

    Please help. ‘Back from the Brink of Suicide’ aired on the Oprah show on October 4, 2006. I am a member of a couple of suicide loss support groups. I have several peers that would benefit greatly from, and expressed an interest in viewing this show. I tried to purchase the video from Oprah website, but it is unavailable. Can someone please help me to obtain a video copy of this show, so that I can share with other members in my support groups?? It would help these suicide survirors to better understand/relate to the thought process of their lost loved ones; and definitely make them feel “less alone” in their time of grief. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Michelle

  9. imalily says:

    Suicide is an extremely self-centered act. As is depression. But they are both choices people make every day.

    Now just imagine what would happen if more people chose to reach out and help others instead. Nothing material can buy happiness–the only real happiness to be found in this world is in helping others. If more people chose to be of service to others instead of dwelling on what is wrong with their lives, why they aren’t happy or how they just can’t get out of the damn bed, the world would be a much better place. And you could throw away all the Prozac. But then the drug companies would go broke and people would actually have to start taking responsibility for their own shit….

    Hmm…..nope, I can’t see that happening any time soon. An alarmingly increasing number of people would rather be dead or experience some kind of altered state of reality with alcohol, drugs or legal medications rather than honestly look at themselves in the mirror. What’s really sad is we medicate ourselves and even our kids if they don’t behave nice and neat and happy like we think they (and we) are supposed to be. Then they kill themselves and we wonder why…..

  10. Tarnaq says:

    Imalily, are you saying that depression isn’t a disease and that depressed people should snap out of it and get their act together?

  11. imalily says:

    What I wrote was very clear–that suicide and depression are self centered acts. It’s just my opinion based on observations I’ve made over the years. Are you saying that depressed people can’t be self centered?

  12. o boy says:

    i dont know why people like oprah she is not all that because she haves ugly feet trust me

  13. Tarnaq says:

    Of course they can be self centered. I’m hoping you’re saying that they’re self centered in the same way going to the toilet with diarrhea is self centered. It’s not something you choose if you want to participate in, it just has to be dealt with. The way I read it, it sounds like you’re saying depression is something you choose, like you choose whether you want to be a customer at McDonald’s or not.

    Also, I don’t see how helping other people out is the only thing that can bring happyness… What happens when you experience joy from helping people is that the brain releases chemicals to make you feel good. The same thing happens during sex, when watching a movie you like, after a job well done that you take pride in, or when taking pills that raise these chemicals in the brain by artificial means. No matter how you have these chemicals released into the brain, you get the same sensation of happiness. It’s not magic that makes you happy, it’s biochemistry.

    Throw out the anti-depressants? Do you mean that they simply don’t work for anyone at all and that they have no real medical value? As in, depression isn’t a real disease that can come from chemical imbalances in the brain? I believe that people are in general being overmedicated by their doctors. A lot of people need to take a look in the mirror and stop moaning about the iPod they didn’t get for their birthday… It’s not all black and white though, I also firmly believe that antidepressants like SSRI’s and the like have a very relevant function in the people that have chemical imbalances.

  14. imalily says:

    Although I doubt you meant to, tarnaq, you have just proven some points here: 1. You can alleviate depression by helping people and 2. that depression is a choice.

    As for # 1. You wrote, ” What happens when you experience joy from helping people is that the brain releases chemicals to make you feel good. The same thing happens ….when taking pills that raise these chemicals in the brain by artificial means. No matter how you have these chemicals released into the brain, you get the same sensation of happiness. It’s not magic that makes you happy, it’s biochemistry.”

    So what I hear you saying (and correct me if I am wrong) is that doing good deeds helps alleviate depression in much the same way that SSRIs do. Actually, lots of things help alleviate depression. Other things that weren’t mentioned are meditation, prayer, cognitive behavioral therapy, or thinking positively. All these things affect moods, including depression. One very effective tools for battling depression (by fiddling with brain chemistry) is exercise. There is something else that has even been clinically proven in many antidepressant drug trials at reducing depression — placebos!

    The bottom line is: it’s a matter of choice in how one goes about “treating” depression. Unfortunately, a lot of people with depression think they have no choice in the matter. It’s like they’ve been brainwashed into believing it’s a biological/genetic disease (when there is no proof of this and, as far as I know, no test that can measure any chemical imbalance in the brain.), that they have no control over it and they will have to take drugs for the rest of their lives to deal with it.

    For # 2 – If good deeds (or even thoughts, since you can’t hardly do a deed without first thinking about it) make the brain chemistry such that one feels joy, then it should follow that bad deeds or thoughts also affect the brain chemistry and cause one to have bad feelings. So I hear you saying (and correct me if I am wrong)that what we do affects our brain chemistry. And since everyone has a choice about what they choose to think about or how they choose to act, depression and happiness is a choice. In other words… “Have a nice day — unless you made other plans.”

  15. imalily says:

    Woops, I meant to say that you’ve made some very good observations that support those 2 ideas, not “prove” them.

  16. Tarnaq says:

    It seems we basically agree, you just didn’t explain it in as much detail in your first post. It sounded like it was like some religious thing making helping people the ONLY way to go, and that antidepressants and the like were definaltely a hoax. There are a million different reasons for depression, and a million different ways to alleviate it. Amongst those are SSRI’s (apart from for the people they don’t work on, placebo affect or not), and helping people (apart from the people that take no particular pleasure in doing so). I don’t care what helps people, I care that people get better.

    As for a choice, you take a pretty philosophical stance on the subject… Yes, you do have a choice in whether or not you try to get it “fixed” one way or the other. I don’t agree that getting the depression in the first place is a choice. Living through a tragedy like losing your kids and getting depressed subsequently isn’t a choice, just as having a neurological disorder like multiple sclerosis (which is known to cause depression) isn’t a choice. As I said, it doesn’t work like magic, it’s what happens in the 3 lbs of wires and chemicals in your head that makes people do what they do and feel the way they feel.

    If you start working on it, you might be able to find the thing that fixes you and frees you of the depression, that makes it the right choice. Still, this is choosing whether you want to try and cure the depression, not if you want to be depressed in the first place.

    Have you ever been depressed yourself if I can ask you that? I’m a firm believer that empathizing with people going through something you’ve never tried yourself is pretty darn hard, if not impossible.

  17. imalily says:

    You mentioned magic earlier and the way you describe this sounds like magic to me…life events happen and *poof* one is either happy or sad…biological events in the brain happen and *poof* one is either happy or sad. Are you sure there is not another process that happens, something that we can do that gives us a certain amount of choice and control in these matters?

    I’d be willing to bet that we don’t agree on something because I don’t happen to believe that depression is purely a biological disorder. There’s not enough proof of that for me. If the psychological community were to be totally honest, they would have to admit they don’t really know what causes depression or a host of other mental disorders.

    For instance, there is really no proof that depression is caused by low serotonin levels in the brain. Although most people think that statement is backed by solid, scientific evidence, it is not. There is actually no known way of measuring serotonin levels in the human brain of depressed people. Think about that for a minute. Now think about the millions of people who are convinced that they suffer from just such a chemical imbalance that has to be medicated for the rest of their lives.

    Psychology and medicine both are inexact sciences, to be sure. There is as much or more evidence that points to psychological disorders being caused by one’s environment as by biology. Some believe nature and nurture are equally influential. It really all depends on one’s perspection and what one chooses to believe in (hint, hint-this is the answer to my earlier question).

    As for your question if I have ever been depressed… throughout my whole life I have fit descriptions for several disorders, including depression, as described in the DMV-IV.

  18. Tarnaq says:

    Let me start out by asking you to read your first post again, imagining you don’t know the least bit about you…

    To me it seems very black and white, very anchored in the belief that anti-depressants should be abolished, and that you can only get better by helping others. It’s a pretty angry post that uses strong language in several places, and one that makes the whole depression treatment aparatus look like a big conspiracy theory concieved for the sole purpose of making money. Oh, and we treat our kids wrong by giving them anti-depressants. That’s what it says very clearly, and that’s why I objected in the first place and asked if that was really what you meant.

    And now to answer your latest post…

    When I say happy or sad because of this and that occurence or treatment, I mean increasing/decreasing happiness/sadness. I refer to the hypothetical absolute emotional zero with no positives or negatives, and whichever value a given treatment contributes to the number, however large or small. There are no absolutes in real life, and no magic “poof – you’re happy/sad” switch. It’s all shades of gray in my opinion.

    What process is this that gives us a certain amount of choice and cotrol in the matters? If you think i’m saying that there’s nothing a depressed person can do to help themselves, you’re misunderstanding me. Just as it’s not purely biological though, it’s not purely a self-help issue either. Personally I believe that everything we experience resides in the brain, even what people would refer to as the soul. If medication helps, fine. If taking a long hard look at yourself in the mirror helps, fine. If helping out other people helps, fine. Different depressions in different people requires different treatments.

    There may be no solid proof for the anti-depressants working, but does that mean it should be ruled out as a treatment possibility? I think there’s what you might want to call a good indication that it has positive effects in a lot of people. On others it doesn’t work at all, but that doesn’t make it an invalid solution. You can’t exactly prove that helping others is beneficial either. Actually, even calling a depression a depression is sort of misleading as it makes it seem like a very specific single disease, instead of many. Just like calling allergy a single specific disease would be. There are a huge amount of different causes for allergies, the end results often look similar though. The same can be said for depression. A large amount of stuff can be causing it, but you can’t really tell from the end result what is. Different treatments work on different people.

    I’m not sure what the DMV-IV is, but I assume the answer to my question is yes. I guess you are able to empathize then, I just hope that whatever made you better doesn’t become the one and only treatment for depression in your mind. Different stuff helps different people, be it helping others, being social, religion, medication, or even believing you’re taking medication.

    I’m depressed myself and I’m on anti-depressants. I’ve been through a load of different types now and they’re not helping me at all. It would’ve been nice if the pills were an easy fix for a difficult problem, but it just doesn’t work that way for me. I would describe my depression as circumstantial, not chemical. I’m not going to go into the details of why my circumstances make my life “less desirable”, but it certainly shows me that depression isn’t a choice. In my case, getting help is, and that’s why I’m doing what I can to try to find what works for me.

    My own depression is one in a million, just like it is for everyone else. Different stuff causes depression for different people, and different stuff helps cure it for different people. Even though it is for some people, you will never see me supporting the idea of depression being a choice for everyone. That would be nothing short of presumptuous on behalf of every depressed person in the world.

  19. imalily says:

    I’d rather not spend my time re-reading somethign I wrote last month while pretending I’m someone else. That seems silly to me. I wrote what I did, I expressed an opinion then you expressed opinions about my opinion. You even had opinions about how I expressed my opinions. This is wonderful, it’s called an exchange of ideas!

    Now, on to other things. The process that occurs in between an EVENT and a FEELING is….(drum roll, please)….. THINKING. I’m suggesting that a person cannot have a feeling or an action without first having a THOUGHT about it. Well, except for those reflexes like when you put your hand on a hot stove, those motor impulses totally bypass the brain. One doesn’t have to think about it at all, the hand just moves of it’s own accord. But generally speaking, that is not how we humans operate in our daily lives.

    Unless I am grossly mistaken, everyone in the world is entirely capable of CHOOSING what they are going to think about. Really, you can prove it right now. First, close your eyes and think about something really horrible, like the World Trade Center disaster. Now think about something wonderful… like eating chocolate. See? Easy as pie.

    So everyone has a choice about what they are going to think about and how they are going to use their brain. Depressed people have very irrational thinking patterns which totally explains their depressed feelings and difficulty coping with normal life events. But that does not a chemical imbalance make. It just means yukky thoughts = yukky feelings.

    If one can learn to think irrationally, one can also unlearn it and learn to think more rationally. Now, whether or not one CHOOSES to go through all this trouble and work to change their thinking is a whole other story. Aye, there’s the rub! Because it certainly IS a lot of trouble and work and most people don’t want to do it.

    M Scott Peck does a wonderful job of explaining this principle in his book The Road Less Traveled. I forget what he calls it (entropy, maybe??) but he says there’s this force and it basically means that humans tend to do the least they can get away with. Emotional or spiritual growth consists of making a constant steady push against this force. But it’s a lot of hard work so not that many people do it. Hence it’s the road LESS traveled.

  20. Tarnaq says:

    I’m losing interest in this discussion…

    You refusing to review yourself makes you lose a lot of credibility in my book. Being able to take in criticism and think about your actions and opinions in hindsight is a very important ability if you want to make personal progress. Also, who are you pretending to be?

    Any reason in particular why you’re talking to me like I don’t understand what it is we’re doing here? Yes it’s an exchange of ideas, that’s the whole point. You might want to lose the patronizing attitude if you want to be taken seriously by the people you’re conversing with… We’re not doing a whole lot of exchanging here anyway since a large percentage of the discussion consists of a massive amount of overhead due to constant reiterations of previously stated opinions.

    I’m not sure if you’re mistaken about how the reflex action system works or if you’re just saying it in a simple way. When you apply extreme heat to your hand, the reflex that makes the hand move “of it’s own accord” doesn’t take place in the hand. It takes place in the central nervous system, the spinal cord to be exact.

    Also, I think you’re oversimplifying the way the “conscious” mind works. Some of it works on a conscious level, and some of it works by subconscious processes. There are techniques that allow you to direct these processes in a certain direction, but not to such an extent that you’re the undisputed master of how it works.

    A disease like Tourette’s is a good example of this. Having an urge to move a limb so strong that it isn’t a choice anymore, or having to speak and hearing your tongue utter obscenities and calling someone a nigger even though you have no racist inclinations… Alien hand syndrome is another example of this. If a ball is thrown at your face, you will unwittingly react by deflecting it or catching it to defend yourself. This automatic process may get out of control and make your hand grab every doorknob it gets close to without you having any intention of doing so. Some people with AHS have no knowledge of what a hand is doing until it is brought to their attention. Try imagining something like Tourette’s or AHS for feelings or thoughts. That’s pretty much the definition of a lot of mental disorders, even depression. Not exactly a choice anymore now is it? Sure, we don’t know with 100% certainty how these things work, but we don’t know with 100% certainty how they don’t work either, whether you want this to be true or not.

    I will let those be my last famous words and move on. It’s been quite an experience talking to you and I’ll be incorporating your words and outlook on the world in my future trains of thought. That’s how I profit from this, I hope you’ll do the same. That’s got to be the whole point of exchanging ideas, learning and making progress regardless of whether you come to an understanding with the person you’re doing the exchange with or not.

    Best wishes =)

  21. DJ says:

    I’m writing this in response to imalily. So you are sure that you can just “think depression away”. You remind me of several of the therapists I have visited. They say use meditation; use cognitative behaviorial therapy; use prayer; use AA (even though I do not drink); been there, done that. I have tried them all except for prayer (do not want to go there). I have been on this planet for 52 years. You come across as knowing everthing about everything. You think people are all like you; sorry, wake up and smell the coffee. If everybody was the same, this world would be pretty boring. I’ll tell you what my problem(s) is. I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety many years ago; anxiety and depression at the same time, go figure. I have done the meditation and CBT; didn’t seem to help much. I have tried so many different anti-depressants that it seems like I should own stock in the drug companies. Why PTSD, because when I was eleven I was sexually assaulted. Then when I was fifteen and should have known better my aunt took advantage of me sexually; should have known better but I didn’t; caused my uncle and aunts divorce after I told my uncle a few years later. The sexual assault that happened when I was eleven I never talked about until about 2 years ago. It happened approximately 41 years ago, and I would love to be able to put it behind me, but for some reason it has not been as easy as you make it out to be; unfortunately, I can remember it like it happened yesterday. As far as suicide, you say it is self-centered; I think that people who think suicide is self-centered are ignorant. Ignorant of the pain that most suicidal people are going through that drives them over the edge. In my opinion, I think that people who say someone who commits suicide is selfish, is being selfish themselves; by wanting someone to stay around this planet just so they can see them exist, regardless of how much emotional pain that suicidal person might be in. I live in a small town, but it is my opinion that male sexual assault victims are treated differently than female victims. This is not to say that it is worse for one or the other. This happenning to either is extremely brutal and inhumane. This garbage (as I describe it) that has happened to me has driven me to the brink several times. I have tried twice to commit suicide (must not know how as males supposedly have a much higher success rate). You think it is an easy decision to want to die? When the pain and anguish build up so much, it is hard for some people to handle. I just can not understand how you think it is so easy to just “get better” or “get over it”. I would love to feel the happiness after losing it so many years ago. Oh, how I would love to. You say that “There is as much or more evidence that points to psychological disorders being caused by one’s environment as by biology. Some believe nature and nurture are equally influential.” It dosesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out; but when you are not nurtured and you are depressed (I was good at hiding everything) for literally dozens of years, your brain and/or its chemical balance can change. In some cases, it is very hard to change back; even if you think it is all in your head. Nothing seems to work; not CBT, not any type of therapy, meditation, or medication. I have lately even been thinking about electro-shock therapy since nothing seems to work. It might permanently mess with my memory, but if it shows me a glint of happiness, it will be worth it. One final note, you say that “throughout my whole life I have fit descriptions for several disorders, including depression, as described in the DMV-IV”. Do you know what the DMV-IV consists of? It sounds to me like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition. Hmmm, thats my problem, I don’t have a copy in my library (wish I had a library). Maybe I would be able to heal myself with a copy of this book, or at least be able to give myself a self-diagnosis, or some sort of new diagnosis; or miraculously find there is nothing wrong with me at all, it is all in my brain.

  22. pink says:

    i have to disagree with the self-centered and selfish part. not totally becasue i cant speak for all suicidal ppll but i can speak for myself and others who may feel as i do. i do not live my life at all for me. thats one of the reasons i have beed depressed for many many years. i had many trumatic events happen to me at a very young age. and i have tried to deal with them all my life i have been tryign to deal with them. but some ppl are not as strong wille dor minded as others. i cant get over the fact that my real parents didnt want me. my adoptive father didnt weant me anymroe after 4 yrs. or that i have a very uncaring mother. i cant deal witht he fact that i was raped whan i was 15 by my bf at the time. then threaten and beat up by him and his friends. i cant deal witht he fact that my father has a new family that he loves more. replaced me. i cant deal with the fact that even tho both of my parents treat me liek crap all i have ever wated form them is to love me and approve of me. i am in university and i am miserable because of it…i go becaue my father wants me to..cuz he is happy i am going. if he woudl let me i would be out in a second. but no i stay for him…i still speak to him becasue i love my step sisters…and i wan tot be aroudn them…i still live with my mother becasue she isnt very well and needs someone to take care os her(even tho she treats me liek crap and tells me every day i am an uncaring uncopassionate person) so i say i am not selfish when i feel i want to die. because i feel trapped by my life. there is no way out except for me to be alone or death. i am a young persona dn i dont have the means or money to support myself if i left…nor would some of my family let me be alone…they woudl hunt me down. i am trapped. and b4 you judge i have been in therapy for 13 years. ever since my dad had a child with another woman and replaced me. i have been on medication for along time and the only thing that medication does is make you feel good. it doesnt make you happym it doesnt make the bad memories better and it doesntmake you happy. it makes the days more bearable to live thru but its not an answer and neither is therapy. they can help! im not saying they cant. but they havnt for me. i feel every day is a struggle to open my eyes and get out of bed. i hate my life and myself and everythign in it. i hate being trapped. and for the record my therapist does agree with me that i am trapped. she tells me to wait it out for another 4-5 yrs. yes but i dont htink i can go one feelign liek this for that long. this isnt somehtign you can forget about. it is always there…beating at you brain and pushing you down. adn i have done group therapy and i foudn it very constructive to know that other ppl felt the same as i do. i am sorry for the slight rant i went on with this. but it really bothered me that ppl would classify all suicidal ppl as selfish. i am not. i live my life completly for other ppl, not for myself. adn the only reason i tried to take my life years ago was becasue my father told me he would gladly give me up if it came to deciding between me and his new family. adn i realized i meant nothign to him. his oldest daughter means nothing. ppl who are suicidal feel that dying is the very lasst resort for them. the LAST. not the first the LAST.

    that is all i have to say pardon my typos and spellign errors…i type super fast and i really dont care. as logn as you can read it then it is ok. btu i know there are anal idiots out there who woudl say what does this chick know she cant spell. bah on you.

    pinkie out

  23. amie says:

    suicide is hurts every1, it is so high here in Northern British Columbia, Canada, look at our family plot full of young men, our future. How do we stop thius epidemic?? We have to be honest and talk about the death in our family, where did we go wrong, listening, communication, we love but do we tell them that, NO. To those who say they have nothing to live for I pray you find yourself in this world

  24. amie says:

    suicide is hurts every1, it is so high here in Northern British Columbia, Canada, look at our family plot full of young men, our future. How do we stop thius epidemic?? We have to be honest and talk about the death in our family, where did we go wrong, listening, communication, we love but do we tell them that, NO. To those who say they have nothing to live for I pray you find yourself in this world

  25. Lee says:

    What I hate is to hear everyone saying “if only I knew, I would have….. somehow stopped it”

    Given the chance to help, most would have done nothing.
    Especially with us whose depression makes them unappealing, personality wise.

    But them, they only seem to mourn those who “had such a great personality.”