Thursday, September 08, 2016

Soul Searching

JP has been gone a little over year year.  At times I am haunted by memories.  Did we, bloggers, society, the medical system fail him?

Anyone who read his blog, knew that he was troubled, deeply troubled by something. He posted about drinking himself to sleep, being depressed, and worrying.  If you spent a couple of hours on a bar stool next to him and got him to talk about his life,you knew he was struggling with something.

When I talked with him I remember being very uncomfortable at things he said and wondering if I really understood what he was saying - I didn't.  Point blank, I missed the clues, he was deeply troubled, and I was clueless about understanding what he was saying or to how to urge, or push him to get help.

I have waited a year to write this.  At times I have been angry, angry at JP, angry that he killed himself, angry that he may have hurt others, angry that the doctors and mental health care providers who treated him didn't do more, angry that I didn't hop in the car and drive to Richmond and I don't know what - I don't know what I could have said or done.  Could we have done more?

I have edited this posting deeply to try not to offend his friends. There are clues to what was troubling him, but my goal is not to accuse someone who can no longer explain what he may or may not have done.  He was troubled, and the help he received didn't help, it didn't work.  As a society we need to do a better job and helping people, get help to deal with the issues in their lives.  We need to see the clues and urge others to work through what is bothering them.


  1. As you know, i volunteer at samaritans
    We are trained to " help" suicidal people.....
    All we can do is our best with what is told to us.

    I have come to the conclusion that some people, for many reasons just fall through the " helping" net.its no ones fault. It just happens.
    Its the nature of the beast....
    This quote , from a book, whose title i cannot remember has always been useful to me
    I hope it helps
    " Killing oneself, anyway is a misnomer. We don't kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, "He fought so hard." And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wRong

  2. I too had questions. JP's problems went farther back than in the short time we knew him. I don't think he had anyone in whom to confide, nor anyone who could free him from his mind demons.

  3. Thanks for posting this.

    I met JP just a month or two before he left us, he stopped by my second house in Clifton Forge, VA, spittin' distance from I-64; he was returning from Huntington, WV.

    He was a great guy, friendly, loyal, smart as a whip, etc., but he definitely had some issues and was hard to read and/or understand.

    For example, for a guy struggling with his weight, he didn't make very healthy food choices at lunch, and he didn't really seem to care. That's a small thing, but he was smart enough to know that you'll never get anyplace without putting one foot in front of the other, but he seemed to sabotage his own efforts frequently.

    I thought once he got a handle on his sleep apnea that he would 'turn the corner' and the pieces of his life would slowly fall into place. I mean, he had reunited with his friend in NC, and that seemed to be going in the right direction (we should all be so lucky!)

    He filled his life with so many activities that he didn't leave time for himself, to take proper care of himself.

    I think he was a bit smug about his own intelligence/technical abilities, and that was his downfall...he obviously had some stuff on his computer he shouldn't have had, or visited sites he shouldn't have visited, but he apparently blew off the possible consequences. I think he found himself painted into a corner.

    It amazed me how many people saw fit to vilify him without knowing exactly what he did or didn't do...SHAME ON THEM!

    Sorry for the soliloquy...I also feel like I could have done more.



  4. I was deeply troubled by his suicide - even though I had never met him and couldn't possibly understand what his problems were. I say "problems" because it's never just one thing. It's a series of things that keep piling up until the burden of it is so overwhelming that the easiest thing is (or SEEMS to be) simply to surrender and give up.

    I speak from bitter experience. All I'll say is that I am haunted by MANY personal problems and demons that I never bother to mention on my blog. Deeply troubled people keep a LOT to themselves. I don't think we can really blame others for not seeing the warning signs....
    Very often there are few warning signs...or signs so subtle that they can't be deciphered.

    I also fully believe that most people who commit suicide wouldn't do it if given a second chance. It's a very rash decision at an extremely vulnerable and irrational time.

    I hope some of this makes sense....

  5. I thought you did a fine job with this. You captured well the mixed feelings many of us had upon his death. I too wondered why he took this approach. I heard just enough matters about the case to wonder about the dark side of it.

  6. David,
    I didn't know Jay that well but I did meet him personally twice during our Bloggerpalooza's. I liked Jay but I did sense something that wasn't quite right. I also was uncomfortable with some of the things I read in his blog that he wrote about. I was tempted to tell him not to write about certain things but didn't. When I heard that he took his own life I did not believe it. Jay was so full of life. He must have been devastated when those charges were brought against him. I don't know anything about the charges, if they were valid or not but I do know that we now live in a culture that if you're accused you're guilty. Shouldn't be that way but that is reality. I have personal experience with a friend who committed suicide. She felt there was no way out and the only escape she had was to end her own life. I've often felt guilty that I didn't return her call because she called me at work the day before she died and left a message for me to call her back. I never did. Her husband called me two days later to inform me that "Alice has killed herself." As with Jay, I didn't believe him but it was true. I don't think there is much we can do David when someone decides to take their own life. They have made up their mind that this is the only way out from whatever their situation is. I will always remember Jay and his boisterous laugh. I'm not a religious person but I do hope he has found peace.