Why did he kill himself? Contributing factors to Charles’ suicide

charles and mom

While I have visited this topic before, I now have the perspective of a couple of years and a lot more education, training and experience. I also know a bit more of the story although there are still missing pieces and there will always be. It is important to note that suicide is the result of multiple factors including health, family history and environment.

1. Charles was going through withdrawal from heroin addiction

We didn’t know this or any of these things to be honest. And he didn’t tell us. But I know from a previous withdrawal, he suffered suicidal ideation–one of his text messages hinted at it although I was not in the know enough to have recognized what he was saying. A

lot of people do when they go through withdrawal. That’s why they take things like shoe strings and the draw cord to sweat pants when people check into detox. It’s flat out brutal, heroin’s way of kicking you in the @$$ for trying to leave it behind.

2. No sleep

Charles had had sleep problems since he was a toddler. He suffered delayed sleep phase syndrome or DSPS and I feel certain he had slept little or not at all for several days.

3. Experiencing a major depressive episode

I heard later from friends later that Charles was very depressed and several tweets and social media posts indicate depression and suicidal ideation. But I didn’t recognize these as signs of suicide. I thought they were signs of hitting rock bottom and we would be able to go get him that weekend.

He had sold his computer and his bike–his last two possessions that he valued. I remember when he told me, “I have nothing.” It wasn’t what he said, it was the despair in his voice.

4. An upcoming court date

I read later in Facebook messages how nervous and out of sorts he was about his upcoming court date. I knew he was worried about it but had no idea until I read that message that he was petrified. The initial experience with the police and the commonwealth’s attorney was frightening. The cops played their judge shopping game and it was continued. It was a miserable experience with no evidence and I still resent how he was treated when there was no true probable cause.

5. He was alone and felt abandoned

I had thought he was with friends. He had initially told me that when he first walked out of detox. So I was under the impression he was still staying with these friends. The truth is he was in a ratty apartment that had a lot of active heroin addicts. The group he had been staying with was in the west end for a few days and they didn’t return as expected which added to Charles’ woeful mood.

Throughout his childhood, he hated being alone. And as a teen, he had been strange when I would ask why he never wanted to be alone. The truth is he would avoid the question and just tell me to just trust that it was best which I wondered about. According to his rap diary, he was afraid he would kill himself if he had too much time alone.

6. Broke up with his girlfriend

She adored Charles and had been very loyal. But as someone who had found sobriety and wanted to stay that way, she couldn’t stay with him any longer. She broke up with him and I don’t hold that against her. It was in her best interest to separate herself from him since he was still using and she was not. He was using her and not offering anything in return other than heartache. Active users tend to use those around them which is part of the heartbreak of substance use disorder.

7. He felt worthless

That last phone call with me didn’t produce the results he was looking for. I was expecting a more obvious cry for help that I now know he was not capable of. He was expecting that I would understand him in his irrational state of mind in withdrawal, no sleep, depressed and suffering from suicidal ideation. Now I think he wanted me to just say, “I’ll come get you.” I’ll never know if my rescuing would have saved him or not and it’s not something I can change now.

Why do I post about grief? My alter ego and I have a battle

9 thoughts on “Why did he kill himself? Contributing factors to Charles’ suicide”

  1. Dear Anne,
    I think of you and Charles every day, and I thank you for sharing your story. Losing a loved one is always difficult, but suicide makes it so much harder. My husband of 43 years died by suicide just over 3 years ago, and my 2 children each have terrible guilt feelings. I frequently wish so strongly that I knew then what I know now. The last 2 weeks of his life now make the fact that he was contemplating suicide so obvious. Not sleeping, I am convinced is an ominous signal. I am now so worried that my son who suffers (like my husband did) from severe depression, anxiety, and constant lack of sleep will take his life. He is an alcoholic living in Chicago in a sober living house in a very dangerous neighborhood. He has been hospitalized several times for attempted suicide. Since he was 5 years old, we took him to a psychiatrist to help him and our family deal with his extremely frustrating mental health issues. I never give up hope, but he is 37 years old and jobless after getting a DUI. He is so bright and a kind good soul, and I feel that he is really trying to improve his life, but it is a daily struggle. I am in PA and so far away. Thank you for giving me a place to vent.

    1. Thank you for telling your story Ann. It was all I could do to keep myself from projecting all kinds of scenarios about Charles. If you ever want to write a post either by you or anonymously, please do.

  2. This just breaks my heart. I am so afraid for my son. I have tried everything…multiple therapists, psychiatrists, in home intensive therapy, Wilderness Therapy, consequences, rewards…..I have read countless books on how to help my son. Drug tests have been negative the last 2 weeks…because we have kept a tight rein and our eyes on him constantly. Seriously…we work in shifts because I work night shift at the hospital sometimes in the PICU(where my biggest fear is that one day it will be MY son who they bring into the Chip ER). There are od’s almost nightly…sometimes multiple…usually repeat and sometimes fatal. He is 15 and I know we won’t always be able to keep up the monitoring at this pace. I am a constant ball of nerves and I don’t know how anyone tolerates me. I appreciate so much you sharing your stories and providing an outlet for those of us who need it so desperately.

    1. Oh Amanda I have been there and I remember it. The vigilance is so overwhelming. I thought I was going to implode. I joined a support group so I wouldn’t lose my mind. Families Anonymous. I would highly recommend it.

  3. I don’t know how to express how sorry I am. Thank you for sharing with us and being so emotionally naked. I have no doubt lives will be saved.

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