Tribute to a Friend and Wondering Why 39

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I heard a few hours ago a friend of mine committed suicide. She apparently blew herself away with a gun — I didn’t get the full details. I’m not sure I really want to know.

Her name was Deborah. I will not be able to go to her funeral later this week.

I met her in Star Wars terms: a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I am fairly confident the first time I met her was in a bar on Dickson Street and that I thought then what I still think now — that is a strikingly beautiful woman.

deborah murray

My lovely friend Deborah

Except now she is less superficially beautiful, because she’ll have a closed casket as a result of a bullet being sent through her brain. By her own hand.

What a waste.

I got the news at around midnight here in Berlin, from a mutual friend that thoughtfully wanted me to hear it from a friend, rather than through the grapevine. I’d meet Deborah with this friend, I am pretty sure, back a decade or so ago in that bar in Fayetteville. Stir was the name of the bar, I think.

Stir. Odd to see those letters on the screen right now for some reason. They just don’t look right. It is an odd combination of letters that does not look like a real word.

We talked about once a month online. She wanted to know about my travels and I wanted to know about her life. Had she sold her condo? How was the job hunt? Any interesting guys in her life? Did she manage to get to Fayetteville to see friends or was she mostly hanging out up north in Benton County?

I know she hadn’t been happy for quite some time. One of my roles in life is to be a sounding board for my friends — the shit I know about people would boggle your mind. I’d like to think the reason that people tell me everything… and I mean everything… is because I was raised in the lawyer culture of confidentiality. You can tell me whatever you wish. I shall not judge. I shall attempt to listen, understand, and help. If you wish.

She never told me she was contemplating this “solution.”

I am the person she should have talked to about this. This is why I am here. I talk. I listen. I help. This is my function. My place in life. God DAMN IT — this is what I do.

I am sitting here at 1:30 in the morning in tears — pissed off. Angry. I could have helped. I am totally frustrated. Who did she talk to? Why did she never mention it to me? I review the entire log of my Facebook chats with her. Was there any sign? Yes, she was unhappy. She had problems. But was there a point I could have listened more.

And I am not sure.

What a fracking waste.

The last message I got from her on Facebook was on March 15th, less than two weeks ago:

Deborah — Hope all is well!! Miss ya!

I just went ahead and left her a message back right now:

Michael Hodson — Damn it, girl. Hate you did that! Uggg. Miss you.

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

39 thoughts on “Tribute to a Friend and Wondering Why

  • Dianne aka Blanche

    My husband’s mother killed herself over 10 years ago. There was no way to know these thoughts were in her mind. There is nothing you could have done. When someone is that deep in that dark hole they can only see one conclusion to their pain. Don’t beat yourself up. Celebrate her life.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Its been a while since I have come back to this post and replied to the many incredible comments. I’m sorry about that, but just didn’t want to roll back over here until now.

      Dianne, thanks for your comment. I really wasn’t beating myself up that much. I realize that it wasn’t my fault and that I likely couldn’t have done anything. Just a bummer.

  • Nomadic Chick

    I am speechless. And sorry. And empathize with your pain and bewilderment.

    You can’t save everyone or be everything to someone who’s intent is to exit the earth.

    Anyway, I’ll shut and just give you a big virtual hug.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Just having all of these wonderful comments helped a great deal. Thanks.

  • Lisa G

    I too had a suicide attempt 3 weeks ago.. When a person gets to the point to think of ending their own life we are not in any rational state of mind and we feel we have no way out of whatever situation we are in and life has come to an end, at the time I chose not to reach out to anyone and no one new the pain and sadness I was experiencing. I survived and everyday is a struggle to find happiness..I am so sorry your friend did not thoughts are with you..please remember its not your fault you she probably hid her pain..

    • Brenda

      I’ve been on both sides of this dilemma. Obviously, I ended up not going through with my plans – about 20 years ago – simply because a friend I hadn’t seen in years happened to show up at my door that day and take me out of the house. I never told her what my other plans had been for that day. And for some reason, I decided to get help. So, here I am. In the days prior, I had gone about contacting people and discreetly saying goodbye without letting on what I was going to do. I didn’t plan to leave a note. Like Mike says, I couldn’t see any way out of the hole I was in. I also didn’t believe anyone would actually miss me. I had that little self regard. Later, I would find out a friend took her own life, someone I had put a lot of energy into “saving,” but had recently just burned out from it and hadn’t been in touch. I still feel guilty. When someone takes their own life, though, it is nobody else’s fault. It is horrible and painful and a shock to the system for those who survive, but despair can do terrible things to a person’s mind and death seems like the only relief. We should just be the best friend we can be to all our friends, do our best to treat our family members as well as we can, and be very kind to strangers. There are a lot of isolated people in our world. And we should listen more than we talk. That’s the best we can do.

      • Brenda

        I would also like to add this – because it has to do with why people may not see that a person is about to commit suicide… When I finally decided to end my life 20 years ago, (having a plan is one sign a person is serious about suicide), I was so relieved, I actually would have looked quite cheerful to everyone around me. I had the image of “release” in front of me. I put my house in order and was ready “to go home.” So, maybe if someone who has been sad for a long time suddenly is quite happy and peaceful, that’s a warning sign? Also, I’d like to share this experience – I had a crisis about 5 years ago after a terrible experience, but this time knew I should reach out for help. I spent an entire day calling local psychiatrists and therapists to try to talk to someone and not only did most of them not call me back, I also got a lot of “I’m sorry, the doctor isn’t taking new patients,” and “we don’t accept your insurance.” I very clearly told each person that I was feeling suicidal and had a history of depression. Not one of those people told me there was a suicide hotline I could call, or did they refer me to anyone, or suggest I check into a local psychiatric hospital in the next town — all of which I found out about later. Finally, one doctor, God Bless him, actually offered to delay the beginning of his vacation and see me that day. Just hearing that made me able to hold on until he came back, and we then worked together with great success for a couple of years. So, even when a person DOES reach out for help, they may come up empty handed. I am so lucky I found that doctor that day; I imagine there are others who aren’t, and that’s a terrible thing.

        • Michael Hodson Post author

          Brenda, I am in awe of your contribution to this conversation (among others also). To be so open and forthright about what you faced in your past and talking about it here with total strangers is inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope your insights will somehow help someone in a similar circumstance in the future.

  • Jackie Rose

    You were a good friend to her. You still are a good friend, to her and to all the other people around you in your life. You are there with open arms, listening. That is a rare thing to find in a person, a willingness to listen.

    Maybe she was hurting enough that she felt she couldn’t talk about it. Maybe she knew you were there for her and didn’t want to talk about it. There are so many maybes, none of which change the fact that you were a good friend to her.

    I hope from this we can all realize that we are never without hope. We are never without love or without a friend. Unfortunately we don’t always realize these things.

    My boyfriend was in the US air force and spent time as part of the Honor Guard. He said if every soldier who committed suicide could see how hurt and upset everyone was at their funeral, if they could see how much they were loved and would be missed, no one would ever commit suicide.

    I’m sorry. I’m sorry she was in pain and I’m sorry you are in pain. I hope you can hold onto your friendship and that if she can see you now, she can see how much you care about her.

    With a big hug,

    Jackie Rose

  • Jeremy Branham

    So sorry to hear about this. So hard to explain what goes on in someone’s head when this happens. Years ago, I’ve been where she is. I know what it feels like to be that low. However, I could never go through with it. For me, it felt like you wanted to end it all just to see if people cared. Either I was too much of a coward or loved life a little too much to go through with it.

    I am sorry for your loss and for her as well. She has missed out on so much. I can’t completely understand her pain but I know what it’s like to be there. May you and all that knew her find some peace, comfort, strength, and wisdom during this time.

  • Christine

    I’m so sorry for you loss, Michael. Suicide is something very difficult to get closure from, especially when you’re in another country and away from it all. I hope in the coming days you can clear your mind and shed the guilt you’re feeling.

    I, like many who have already commented, have lost a friend to depression, and it’s a horrible disease. My friend was the absolute last person you’d imagine taking her own life. Young (just 19), strikingly beautiful, good family…a seemingly perfect life. She hid her pain so well that no one knew outside her immediate family that she was battling depression, and when she committed suicide everyone who knew her was shocked.

    I’ll be keeping you in my thought during this difficult time.

  • Laurence

    Wow. Really powerful post Michael. I don’t believe there is anything you could have done. As others have said, to reach this point of desperation is too often beyond that which reason is an option, or help is sought. It will have seemed like this really was the only solution 🙁 A terrible tragedy, for everyone involved.

  • Iain Mallory

    Losing a friend is never easy Michael whatever the circumstances. One that you lose because they take their own life is especially hard to understand and you will spend many hours trying to fathom why, not just in the next few weeks, but occasionally in years to come too.

    Suicide is final, it is not a call for help, it is the final ‘solution’. Those that take this course usually don’t seem to tell anybody that they are considering this. If there were any signs it would probably be extremely difficult to see them from a distance.

    Deborah may have been unhappy but she leaves a sorrier world and almost certainly a great many distressed family and friends behind.

    You will never make sense of it, it never makes sense to those of us left behind.

  • Abi

    Oh, I am so, so, so sorry to hear this. I used to deal with this a lot in my old line of work. I once heard someone say that there is no real answer to the question of why someone commits suicide, no sense to be found. One day they made a mistake, a single decision that for a moment looked as though it was the best thing to do. We all make mistakes, even when we are well, and we are usually lucky in that the consequences are not so profound.

    It is terribly sad – and my thoughts are with you.

  • AizaMarie

    I am sorry to hear about this…But you know, losing a friend is never easy especially if it is very close to you and your family…I hope you get better…

  • Mina mahrous

    I am so sorry for your loss Michael. I am sure though there was nothing you can do to help, as many have mentioned here, once someone has reached that point of frustration to the point of taking away their own lives, I think even if she had talked to you about it there was noway you could have stopped it.

    My thoughts are with you, just try to remember the goodtimes and memories 🙂

  • Emily

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dear friend. I love the way Dianne worded her comment…very true. She must not have thought there was a point in sharing it–her mind was made up and that’s the solution she saw fit. So tragic, but it sounds like you were the best friend you could be, and there’s nothing else you could have done. My thoughts are with you.

  • Tom

    This was a really moving post Michael, and I’m truly sorry to hear about your friend. My thoughts go out to you and her family.

  • Ali

    Michael, I’m so sorry to hear this. I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through. But what everyone else is saying here is right, you can’t know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. There’s no way you could’ve known what she was planning to do. You can’t blame yourself for any of this. My thoughts are with you, I hope you’re doing ok.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Ali, thanks for checking in. I really don’t blame myself at all. Just confused, like most of my friends are about it. Just feel bad, but certainly don’t think I had anything to do with it in terms of any guilt or blame.

  • Simon

    I’ve been struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts since I am a teenager. Psychotherapy, drugs and good friends helped me a lot and I didn’t experience any suicidal thought for the last years (hopefully this won’t happen anymore in the future.

    What I know, however, is that when for whatever reason I feel like sinking through a black hole, I just can’t talk. Not because there would not be a good friends, as you were to Deborah, ready to listen and comfort me. It’s just that… I can’t do it. It’s an overwhelming feeling, leading me to isolation.

    I can only try and imagine what Deborah might have been feeling. But I don’t believe she didn’t talk to you because she didn’t trust you. There is a point when you don’t trust life anymore.
    A big, friendly hug.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Simon, thanks for your comment and sharing your situation also. I have a number of friends with clinical depression and I truly appreciate their plight, while also being thankful that my own occasional depression and moods don’t rise to that level. Thanks again for talking through this with everyone here.

  • Lorenzo

    I have goose bumps right now as I can relate to your situation – a friend did this to himself and I tried to see his justification. I tried to search and figure out how I could have been a better friend – but there was nothing there. My advice is to try and let it go or it will haunt you forever.

  • Laura

    XOXO! Everything will be fine and sorry for what happened… Just keep believing in God and he will do the rest…

  • Will - Gap Daemon

    Sorry for your loss. Incredibly personal and thought-provoking read. I hope you bounce back soon mate.

  • molly hogben

    Michael I too am a friend of Deborahs and I totally feel ur pain…I’ve been beating myself up as to if I could have helped her in anyway too…I miss her dearly. I hope wherever she is now she can finally find some peace…x

  • Geraldine

    Oh, man. Just saw this now. So incredibly sad to hear it. My heart goes out to you, Mike, and all of her friends and family. What a sad, unnecessary loss.

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