Friday, September 04, 2015

Did we fail you?

If you followed JP Murphy's blog closely over the past couple of years ( you knew he was troubled.  Troubled by issues he hinted about, occasionally posted parts of, but couldn't or didn't want to talk about. Those troubles came to a head over the past week and this week he took his life, and posting what is in effect a suicide note on his blog.

There were hints along the way, that something was not right, and a couple of blog posts that were cries for help.  We urged him to get help, help that is difficult or impossible to give long distance.  He did talk to his doctor, I am not sure he told his doctor enough of the story, let alone all of the story. My fear is that we didn't push him hard enough to get more help, that we failed him.

I am a strong believer in options and in the ability to heal or change. Jay needed help, help he didn't get, and in the end felt boxed in with the options of a life he didn't think he could live with, or death. Why didn't we convince him to seek help and explore other options?  Did we fail him?


  1. Thank you for posting this, Travel.

    It's a very difficult time, and very difficult to say what caused this.

    If you follow the clues Jay left, it looks like it was something very immediate that prompted his actions.

    Did he know this was imminent? Did he know he would be found guilty of a crime, or was he just unwilling to be raked across the coals publicly? Did he have an addiction problem, or was he just the victim of unfortunate circumstances?

    We often don't give much thought to these things when they happen to others, but being tried, and ostracized, in the court of public opinion, without being charged, can indeed ruin a person's life. Like Jay said, there was no way to fight against it.

    It strikes me as being grossly irresponsible behavior by the media outlets involved; isn't there enough bad news for them that they don't need to manufacture any?

    Thank you again.



  2. - spouse's post

    we, his friends, did everything humanly possible for jay. but jay's inner torment was more than he, or we, could fix. I wish it did not have to end this way. it leaves so many unanswered questions and doubts. do we REALLY "know" anyone? :(

  3. David,
    In 1990 a very good friend of mine committed suicide. She was the most unlikely person to put a gun in her mouth in her daughter's bedroom to end her life but that is exactly what this gentle, caring and loving woman did. She felt trapped and there was no way out. One day before she committed suicide (a Friday) she called me at work as she often did when she was having problems in her marriage and/or family. I was too busy to return her call. The next day (Saturday) her husband called and left a message on my answering machine informing me that Alice (her name) had killed herself. I did not believe him. He had a reputation as a jokester. I called him and he told me when Alice's viewing was. I decided to call his bluff. I went to the viewing and he wasn't joking. Alice really did kill herself. As I approached him in the receiving line and our eyes met, we both lost it. I went one way, racked with sobs and he went the other way. We both knew that her suicide was a totally senseless act, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. He suicide changed my life. He told me she felt "trapped" with all the responsibilities of life (recent death of her mother, caring to two adopted Korean children, running two homes, going through the change of life and some other "problems".
    I do not know the details of Jay's life but I do know he struggled with being openly gay. We had some rather intense discussions about living a life in the closet and one out in the open, honest and true to oneself. I think Jay was "outed" and he just couldn't take the shame. Whatever, the reason, what a senseless loss. The short time I knew Jay he was a man full of life and seeking happiness. But we never do know what demons lurk within do we? My apologies for the long reply. I have yet to write a blog post about this.

    1. Thanks Ron, I appreciate the long reply. We seldom know all sides of someone, nor how complicated their lives can be. I have been lucky to find some good people over the decades that I opened up to and was able to work through most of the things I didn't and still don't want to talk about. I have to think that if JP had met the right therapist, he could have found other paths that would have led to a different outcome .

  4. Thank you for this post and all the comments. I've been having a hard time with this. I didn't know him as long as others may have but I'm still in shock. I was asking the same thing Travel. What could we have done? Could I have been a better friend? I wish I knew.

  5. Randy in NEB.9/05/2015

    Hi all, I told Ur Spo I called Jay on the phone this past Sunday. And ask him what's up after Spo left a voice mail Sunday afternoon. I didn't get it until a couple of hours later. Because I was in rural Nebraska. And was out of cell phone coverage, more cow than people in some places. Anyway Jay was very upset, he told me somebody accused him of having child porn. Cops and FBI show up at his house when he wasn't home and trash the place. It's all very sad, I too am sitting here wondering if I could have done more to help.

  6. How did we fail? is the common reaction after any suicide. There is no easy answer. Ultimately the threads of Fate are too interwoven and complex to know the answers. Jay may have failed himself viz. succumbing to the despair of the situation. We - nobody - has the data to know this.