February 1, 2021
EP. 252 — My Friend Took Their Own Life
A young woman opens up about her best friend’s suicide and the emotional toll it’s taken on her. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a loved one, or just need emotional support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
252 — My Friend Took Their Own Life
CHRIS [00:00:00] Before we get started today, I just wanted to let people know this episode deals seriously with some difficult subjects, including depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and these are sensitive subjects for a lot of people. If that includes you, please keep in mind before you listen. And if you or someone you know needs help, please, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. [TRANSITION MUSIC]
CHRIS [00:00:32] Hello to everybody who hasn’t been sleeping much lately. It’s Beautiful Anonymous. One hour, one phone call. No names, no holds barred.
THEME SONG [00:00:41] I’d rather go one on one, I think it’ll be more and I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me.
CHRIS [00:00:55] Hi everybody, Chris Gethard here, welcome to another episode of Beautiful Anonymous. First things first, couple quick things to get out of the way. I was I was so happy to see so many people enjoyed last week’s show. And in the Facebook group, I was surprised to see a decent number of comments from other people who have narcolepsy and associated conditions jumping in to say, I have it too, I have this too. I was worried about hearing it and what it meant, but it it was it was it was cool to see that it struck a chord with so many other people who deal with similar things. Also on Thursday, we put the first episode of my new podcast, New Jersey is the World in the Beautiful Anonymous feed, thanks to everybody who checked it out. Hope you enjoyed it. If you want to support it, all the info’s in that episode. Thank you again. Now, you’ve heard some warnings. You can tell it’s a very, very hard episode you’re about to hear. Our caller has been through some really hard things and lost someone extraordinarily close to them who took their own life. And it’s it’s so hard to hear. It’s so hard to hear. You know, it’s something that I think everybody knows is something that I’ve had to deal with and reconcile for myself with these thoughts, these experiences. And one thing that I think, you know, you wind up dwelling on when you have depression is, man, what are the people who are still here after I’m gone going to do? And this is one of those people, one of the people who is still here dealing with the aftermath of something really difficult. And I think the caller is very open and honest and raw, and that can be extraordinarily painful at times. It’s also very brave and commendable that the callers able to put it out on the table in this manner, and I just want to say another thing, sometimes, you know, sometimes we have shows that cut this deep on stuff this sensitive and I go, man, I’m not a journalist. I don’t know the ethics of how to present this stuff. And I’m certainly not any sort of trained mental health professional. I mean, I don’t know, but what I have learned over the years is that very often letting people say things in their own words and letting other people hear them in that fashion can strike a chord and make people feel a little less alone. And hopefully it goes a long way this time as much as any other call. So, caller, I thank you again for calling in and really being as honest as you were. Anybody out there. I’m I’m begging you, if you need help or there’s someone in your life who you think does. Again, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255. Here’s the call.
PHONE ROBOT [00:03:41] Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous, a beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host [BEEP].
CALLER [00:03:48] Hello?
CHRIS [00:03:48] Hi.
CALLER [00:03:50] Hey, it’s actually you Geth.
CHRIS [00:03:53] It’s me.
CALLER [00:03:54] Crazy. How are you?
CHRIS [00:03:57] Did you initially say how you be?
CALLER [00:04:01] No.
CHRIS [00:04:01] What did you say?
CALLER [00:04:02] I said, how are you?
CHRIS [00:04:04] Oh, I thought you said before that it sounded like you said baby or something like that. Anyway, how am I? I’m OK. I’m all right. I the last two nights ago, I woke up at four thirty in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, just kind of randomly woke up. And then last night the baby woke up around three thirty and I shushed him back down which is like totally fine and actually something I quite enjoy. But then I had that awful moment where I was like, what if I can’t fall asleep again? Which just means you’re not you’re not falling.
CALLER [00:04:39] Exactly.
CHRIS [00:04:40] Yeah. So I’ve had two nights of sitting out on the couch listening. There’s a certain podcast I listen to that puts me to sleep every time in a good way. So I just put it on.
CALLER [00:04:51] Oh please do tell.
CHRIS [00:04:53] It’s, it’s a great I want to be clear. It’s a great podcast. It’s it’s called The History of Rome. And now I’ve moved on to its sequel series, which is called Revolutions, which is it’s a history podcast. And it’s really, really, really great. But it’s also intensely soothing and just very, very evenly measured. And every episode is kind of just delivered in this tone and it put it puts me to bed in the best way. It really does. Thank you, Mike Duncan, for both your historical research and your ASMR-like voice. Anyway, how are you?
CALLER [00:05:29] Yes, I’d say I’m honestly, minus having a baby in your same boat. The last few nights have been kind of restless for me.
CHRIS [00:05:41] Yeah. I’m sorry about that.
CALLER [00:05:44] Yeah. I don’t know, this is my first time actually getting anywhere close to getting through so I’m kind of baffled and thankful for your hold music. It kind of gave me a minute to calm down.
CHRIS [00:05:59] Oh, that’s good. And you know, I try to pick some stuff that’s, uh, that’s, that’s good in my opinion.
CALLER [00:06:06] Yeah.
CHRIS [00:06:08] I think the first song right now is Superchunk, great song.
CALLER [00:06:15] I listened to it a couple of times.
CHRIS [00:06:16] Yeah. Good, good tune, more depressing than it sounds. The chorus sounds so cheerful and you read the lyrics and you’re like, oh this is a condemnation of modern society. Who knew? I thought it was I thought it was cheerful at first.
CALLER [00:06:31] Yeah. Yeah, I guess, oh God, I’ve been listening to you forever. What I kind of wanted to talk to you about today, I know a lot of other callers tend to come across talking about their traumas with you. And I think that’s something I’d like to divve into because I think it’s something your listeners would be interested in hearing about.
CHRIS [00:07:00] Sounds. I don’t want to say sounds good to me in relation to traumas, but I will say I am. I am here. And this hour is yours, so I’m happy to. Happy to be here for whatever you need.
CALLER [00:07:18] I love your podcast and all of your calls. Just have some part. I just like to be a part of it. And I guess to start off. About a week and a half ago, marked the second anniversary of my best friend’s suicide.
CHRIS [00:07:40] Oh no, you say yeah, you first of all, I’m really sorry you broke up a little bit. You said a week and a half ago was the two year anniversary.
CALLER [00:07:50] Yeah, as of the 1st of February, it was the the two year anniversary of his suicide.
CHRIS [00:07:59] I hate to say this, doing something so intense, but just to get your call, you are breaking up. I don’t because I want to be able to pay as much attention and lock in, I don’t know if there’s like a better area of where you are.
CALLER [00:08:12] Let me let me move around just a little better.
CHRIS [00:08:14] That’s much better. Yeah.
CALLER [00:08:17] OK cool. Yeah. As of the 1st of February marks the two year anniversary of his suicide. And he had my best friend for well over 10 years. We had kind of a big group of people we’d all been very close with since our high school years, junior high years even, and. He had been through a lot of stuff, some addiction. He has a lot of problems with his back, depression, alcoholism. But the thing that I’m trying to make this about, not mostly about him, is just the traumas that happened to everyone after the fact, because I don’t think that most people who are in that mindset of considering suicide really think about the full extent of their actions, if they do move forward with what they’re going to, you know, what they want.
CHRIS [00:09:24] Well.
CALLER [00:09:25] Short term.
CHRIS [00:09:28] [coughs] I’m sorry, I’m already getting choked. I’m already swallowing wrong because this one, the you know, this topic is this topic is very close to me. And I’ve had a past that I’ve talked about. And I will say I feel like a. You know, one of the one of the thoughts that kind of kept me alive was saying what would my what would my parents have to deal with if I ever did that? So to hear you say that you can offer that perspective is really intense. But I do think valuable.
CALLER [00:10:02] Yeah. I mean, I’ve been through my bouts of feeling suicidal, and I’ve even had an attempt once before, 10 years ago. But I, I just I’ve been in that position where all I can feel is just this looming dread of just not wanting to do anything more with your life. And the only thing you can think of is how to get out. And you can’t really think about what it would do to anybody else. But then when you finally do think about that, it does stop you. And that’s the only reason I’m still here, is probably because of my mom, because I don’t know what I’d do without her. But to go back to his situation, he this was kind of something that I knew was coming. He had expressed to me on numerous different occasions that he didn’t want to live past 25. He basically would, what’s the word for it? Like ease us into the thought of him not being here anymore. You know, we’d all have parties and it would be a good fun occasion. And he and I would go outside to smoke a cigaret, you know, what have you. And it would get dark. And not a lot of people knew about that. And there had been several times where he and I got into fights and wouldn’t talk for weeks over it. I tried to get him help. He just felt like there was so much that he would have to do in order to fix the pain, whatever physical, mental, emotional pain he was in, that it wasn’t worth it. So killing himself was the easy way out. But. Although it may have felt that way for him, but for everybody in his life, we all just fell apart. He was the glue that kept us all together. You know, he was the one always inviting us to things, always engaging us in things. He was the jokester, the prankster, the one that always made everybody happy, which is kind of ironic because that’s usually how it is with people who are suicidal and depressed. I mean, Robin Williams, you know, most comedians and. His brother, his brother was very, very close to me, too. We were all in the same friend group, they were very close in age and I ended up moving in with him about a month after it happened just to keep an eye on him. And he needed help with the bills and stuff like that.
CHRIS [00:12:54] So you were his best friend and you wind up living with his brother that soon after it went down?
CALLER [00:12:58] Yeah, yeah. Someone had to step up. His family wasn’t watching him. His family didn’t really seem to care. And he was the one that found his brother. You know, they lived together and he found him in the worst way possible. And no one seemed to care to check up on his brother, to check up on him, to make sure he was OK, to get him therapy, to get him any kind of help. You know, he just things got really, really dark for him. And I was always over there and I said, look, you obviously need help financially. I’d like to be here for you at any point in time that I can let me move in and help you out. So I ended up moving in with him and his girlfriend, who was another one of my really good friends to kind of keep an eye on him.
CHRIS [00:13:48] And can I ask a morbid question? So you said his brother, your friend and his brother lived together and his brother found him. Are you. Did you move into the house they lived in together? And was that where he found them?
CALLER [00:14:05] Well, it was an apartment and his brother actually worked for the apartments as a maintenance man, so they were very close with management there and they got him into a new apartment immediately. So it wasn’t that exact apartment where he, you know, died, but it wasn’t that far away. So it was in the same complex.
CHRIS [00:14:28] In the same complex.
CALLER [00:14:31] Yeah.
CHRIS [00:14:31] So you still like walk past it every day.
CALLER [00:14:35] Yeah, he was still walking past it every day. I mean, when people moved into that apartment, after they fixed it all up and cleaned it up, he still had to go into that apartment for maintenance purposes, like after everything that happened.
CHRIS [00:14:49] No.
CALLER [00:14:50] Yeah. Yeah, I know, right. He was, too he was too stubborn to let anybody help him and and do it for him. There were other maintenance men that would have that would have stepped up and walked in that house or that apartment for him. But he was too, too stubborn and didn’t want to admit that anything was wrong and that he wasn’t able to do it, you know.
CHRIS [00:15:13] Yeah, that’s that when you say he’s a maintenance guy and it’s like. I think so much about that. Like working class, blue collar toughness, that priority on toughness. Yeah, which is so admirable in so many ways, it’s so admirable in so many ways, but also so tragic at other times.
CALLER [00:15:35] Yeah, it really is is I mean, I hate to bring this up, but you know how there’s like this thing with masculinity, where you it’s it’s wrong to show emotion and it’s wrong to show that you’re you’re not a tough guy, and that’s very much how he was. You know, he would rather show anger than sadness.
CHRIS [00:16:00] Yeah, I know that feeling. I mean, I think one of the great turning points in my life was when I just let go, I was like, I’m not tough. I’m actually pretty weak. Like, I’m not strong. I’m I’m pretty sad. And and when I just kind of I feel like that for me was such a tough hurdle to get over. And so scary and felt like admitting such defeat and actually as soon as I did it. It was like, oh, I feel more free than I’ve ever been, and it’s not like anyone in my life is shocked. It’s not like anyone in my life was shocked to hear when I was that, guys. I’m actually pretty. I want everybody, like telling my, you know, my college friends because I was in my early 20s. Oh, guys, I’m on medications now. And I’m seeing somebody and they were like, good. Yes, yes. You think you think we thought you were strong, you were just pissed off and mean sometimes and this is why you weren’t good at drinking, because you were pounding your emotions into submission via alcohol because you didn’t want to deal with them. Yeah, we got your back like nobody was shocked.
CALLER [00:17:23] Cheering you on man. Yeah I know that feeling too. I have harbored along a lot of anger over the years. I struggle with bipolar disorder. So it’s it’s been a struggle handling my own emotions so I can feel you there.
CHRIS [00:17:37] I mean, I can’t imagine. You know, for you to help out his brother is just one of those sort of quiet, real life heroic moments, but it’s also not easy for you, you’re his best friend, like it’s also it’s not like some person who was three steps away stepped up to help. There must be some nights where you and his brother are just feeling like you’re living in the belly of the beast, so to speak.
CALLER [00:18:09] A hundred percent. I mean, the way I found out wasn’t that great either. I had texted my friend who committed suicide. I had texted him a couple of hours before and he told me, you know, come over. We’re just doing the usual tonight. And, you know, I got ready after I was done with work and headed over there. And when I headed over there and I got in the parking lot, I noticed a lot of police cars, but it was kind of a shady apartment complex. So it wasn’t totally abnormal. But I kind of had just this weird feeling, you know, about it. And then I walk up to their apartments and it’s upstairs. I’m walking upstairs. I don’t even look up the stairs. But when I get to the stairs, say stairs a million times. When I get to the top of the stairs, there’s police officers guarding their door. And I’m like, oh, dear, what kind of trouble did they get themselves into? And they take me downstairs and tell me that, you know, my best friend is gone and that my other best friend, his brother, had found him that way. And, you know, a couple minutes later, his brother come around the corner because they had taken him down to the police station for a statement. And we just collapsed into each other’s arms like no no one else knew. It was just me and him. His family didn’t know. None of our friends knew. We just collapsed into each other’s arms, like stood there for a good five, ten minutes. Not really knowing if this is real or not. It was just it was just insane because the majority of the time that I spent with him was making sure he was OK and not really taking care of myself. I never really dealt with the feelings of losing him, because I was so focused on making sure that the rest of my friends and their family were going to be OK. And, you know, I was the one that was strong and stood up for everybody else when everyone else was on their knees and couldn’t do anything else. It’s been really hard. That’s not even the worst of it.
CHRIS [00:20:30] Yeah, someone I’ve. Not related to the same things at all, but I’ve been struggling a little bit recently with some of the relationships I have with people in my community and someone said a phrase to me that that reminds me of what you just said as far as you taking care of everyone else and them forgetting that you might need that too, someone said to me, you know, Chris, like when you’re always the one throwing the party, that means you’re never getting invited to the party, like when you’re handing out all the help. It doesn’t really get out, you don’t really get that help back. That’s a lonely feeling and loneliness man, loneliness.
CALLER [00:21:17] It’ll kill you, man. Oh, it’ll kill you.
CHRIS [00:21:19] That’s and that’s one of the things about depression, right? That’s one of the things about. If you never been on the inside and people just think, oh, you just get really sad and it’s like, no, you also feel like you are on an island by yourself.
CALLER [00:21:33] You feel everything so intensely.
CHRIS [00:21:34] You feel everything intensely. And then you have long stretches where you feel nothing. You’re sitting there going, I would love to feel sad. People go, why are you so sad. I would I would I would give, I would drain my bank account if I could feel sad. I’m feeling nothing. And that’s so much scarier. That’s when it hits that point, where you’re like, man. Can I ask you a tough question? Because you’ve said like. You want to offer the perspective of the people who survive in the aftermath of something like this, why do you think he texted you and said, come on over tonight? We’re doing the usual. [Transition music]
CHRIS [00:22:19] We’re going to pause there, everybody, I know that during episodes as serious as this one, it oftentimes feels odd to have advertisements. But at the end of the day, the ads are what allow us to do the show. So it’s the way of the world also felt like it was a good point to pause because when we come back, the story takes a real turn that gets even more intense. So wanted to give you a heads up about that. Thanks to our advertisers. We’ll be right back.
[00:22:43] [AD BREAK].
CHRIS [00:22:47] Let’s go ahead. Let’s get back to the conversation. I want to say I know we gave a warning about suicide at the top. Things take a turn now where there’s a few other things involving some some domestic situations, some violence, some some some other things that just deserve their own heads up. Now, let’s get back to the call.
CHRIS [00:23:12] Why do you think he texted you and said, come on over tonight, we’re doing the usual.
CALLER [00:23:20] I honestly have no idea, and I have beat myself up for it for two years for taking those extra two hours to do my makeup and hair, if I had just gone straight over there this might never have ever happened. It’s. I can’t I can’t wrap my brain around it. I don’t know if he wanted me to find him and not his brother to find him or if he just needed help at that point or if he didn’t actually plan it out. And it was just a spur of the moment because he was being a little weird that day to start like we had been talking on and off all day. And we usually talk through Snapchat. And he had sent me this Snapchat with this silly mannequin head that I made him. And we used to pretend that it was his girlfriend. And he took a picture with the mannequin head and said, My girlfriend’s a bitch, sorry Sally. But and he said that to me and I knew, like, he was kind of in an off mood and then, like, that was like the last thing I heard from him. And so, like, I didn’t tell him when I was coming over to say, I’ll see you in a couple hours. So I got ready, put my makeup on, did my hair, whatever, and then went over there and, you know, down at the way I was, the way it was with the police there and everything. And his brother told me actually that he walked up to the apartment and like he was just about to get off work. So he was up in his apartment and he went and told my best friend, hey, I’m going to go clock out real quick. I’ll see you in a few minutes. And my best friend was like, hey, man, like, can you just can you play this game with me or something? And he’s like, Yeah, yeah, man. I’ll be back in just a few minutes. I’m just going to go clock out. And my best friend told him he loved him and he left to go clock out. And twenty minutes later he came back and he was gone.
CHRIS [00:25:35] Twenty minutes. Well, let me say something. Let me say, I’m gonna say something, and you said you’ve dealt with this stuff, too. So here’s something, you know, intellectually that emotionally might never go away. And it’s only been two years, but let me say it for you, because this is something, you know. When he. When you say, I wish I hadn’t taken that time to do my hair and makeup. When his brother says, I wish I hadn’t gone to clock out. I will say. Again, having been someone who really thought about suicide at points in my life. At the end of the day, I remember doing that. Calling somebody a hey, you hungry? Oh, no, I’m not hungry and or, you know, saying to somebody, hey, why don’t, we’re going home, but why don’t why don’t we just hang out a little bit more? And those were those. Those. Those moments, we all know what they are in retrospect. But at the end of the day, he said to you, come hang out, we’re doing the usual. He said to his brother, let’s keep playing this game. And as hard as it is emotionally. He didn’t say to you, I really need help right now and you can’t you can’t spend the rest of your life going, why did I do my makeup and my hair? Here’s why you did your makeup and your hair, because he said, come on over. We’re doing the usual. He explicitly said, this is going to be another day. And now a couple hours later, you realized, oh, it wasn’t another day and I can look back and go. He really meant come over right now. I need help. It’ll be usual day. But he didn’t say that. He didn’t say that. And there was no way for you to know. That’s that’s one of the things that I think is is.
CALLER [00:27:38] Yeah. You know, yeah. I try to tell myself not only that, but the fact that he kept drilling in my mind that this was going to be a thing. I need to be prepared for it. He probably would have done it had I come over immediately at some point anyway, you know. Yes. It’s not like me not doing my hair and makeup for that one day is going to save him for the rest of his life.
CHRIS [00:28:01] No, no, it’s not. Yeah, it’s not like you’re going to do your hair and makeup and go over there and you’re gonna be attached at the hip for a week. You’re going to go you’re going to be at some point you’re going to say, hey, I’m hungry, I’m going to get food. Or you’re going to say I’m tired, I’m going to go to sleep like and I know that’s right, it’s one of the hardest things about life. That’s one of the hardest things about life, is you don’t know the things you know until you know them.
CALLER [00:28:27] Exactly.
CHRIS [00:28:28] You don’t and then you look back and go, how could I not have realized or how could I have been so stupid? Here’s why. Here’s why you didn’t realize. Because you hadn’t had that life experience and life experience is what teaches you things. So how can you can’t skip back in time and go, oh, now I know because you didn’t. The sad fact is you didn’t know. And we all have to deal with that, we all have to deal with that so many times.
CALLER [00:28:58] Right. Well, let me tell you, I took that experience with his brother and never left his brother alone. For any time we would go to the store or something. Someone hang back just just to check on him, because I. I just had the worst feelings afterwards. You know, every time I’d come home from work and there’d be a cop car in the parking lot, I’d just freak. I mean, one time even our neighbors had some altercations or something. And there were cops like literally right outside of our hallway. I ran up the stairs so fast and broke through our door so fast. I could tell you how relieved I was to see him just sitting there playing video games like I just, like, fell into his lap. It was like, thank God you’re here.
CHRIS [00:29:50] Do you still, uh. It’s only been two years, you still worrying about his brother or you feel like he’s started to find his footing again?
CALLER [00:30:02] Well Chris, I don’t know. We don’t talk anymore.
CHRIS [00:30:04] Oh, no.
CALLER [00:30:07] This is the hardest part, Chris. About let’s say I moved in in March of 2018 and in October, October 19th of 2018, he pulled a gun on me and threatened to kill me.
CHRIS [00:30:30] Wow.
CALLER [00:30:32] Yeah, yeah, he, um, he just came home from work one day, really agitated, I’ve gotten home just a couple of minutes before him, just long enough to change out of my work clothes. I mean, you know, October, it’s basically almost winter. It was pretty cold that day. And he had the AC running in the apartment all day, which he comes in and out of the apartment all day since he works on the property. But he had the AC running and it was like fifty something degrees in there. So I turned it off and he came in shortly after I turned it off and turned it back on and I came out of my room and I was like, Dude, you’re killing me here. I’ve got like a splitting headache. Can we please just, like, nix the AC for just tonight, please? And he starts walking back and forth in his room pacing and he goes, oh, man, oh, man. And I’m thinking he’s just going to tell me what a bad day he had or like some stupid resident did something. I don’t know. But he starts walking around and he’s like, I just want to kill myself. And at this point, we had had this conversation so many times, I’m like, kind of sarcastically, which I wish I hadn’t. Well, don’t do that. And keep going about my business and the apartment and I walk into the kitchen and I can hear him loading his gun. You know, fiddling with it that, you know, you can you can hear when a gun is being loaded.
CHRIS [00:32:16] Oh my god.
CALLER [00:32:16] Like it was it was a 22. So I’m just thinking he’s because this isn’t the first time I’ve heard him play with his gun. I’ve heard him take what I think to be practice shots with the gun empty. Like he would what I would assume, I can’t say for sure, because I never saw him do it. I only heard him do it from outside the door. What I would assume he was doing was holding the gun to his head with it empty and feeling what it felt like to pull the trigger. But I actually heard him load it and cock it while I was in the kitchen. And he kind of we almost ran into each other in the hallway and he starts like cussing at me and points the gun at me for like a split second. If I had blinked, I probably wouldn’t have seen it. But after that, he threw it into the wall and it got stuck into the wall of our apartment. And as that was happening, his girlfriend and my other really good friend was walking up the stairs to come into the apartment and she was unlocking the door. She couldn’t get in because he had locked the privacy lock. I don’t know if he did that on purpose or if it was just I don’t know. I can’t say out of habit because we literally never locked the privacy lock. I can’t say that he did it out of habit. I don’t know why he would have done it, but he locked the privacy lock and she couldn’t get in. So he went over to the door after he threw the gun into the wall and flung the door open and said, welcome fucking home. And she had no idea what was going on. But she heard a loud bang when the door or when the gun got thrown into the wall. And he after he let her in and said that he went and grabbed the gun out of the wall and then went back to his room and she was just standing there like, what’s going on? And I’m like, we need to leave now. Like, you need to get your purse and we need to go. And she sits down on the couch and I start packing a bag and he comes back out to the living room and sits on the couch. And it’s just glaring at me and he’s just like, fuck you bitch, fuck you fucking stupid bitch sorry Sally. But so me and her get out of there or well, I walked out of there and I said, hey, you need to come with me. And he came out of the apartment too, and was like, whatever you need to say to her, you can say to me. And I was like, I don’t I don’t have anything to say to you. I have absolutely nothing to say to you. And she came down the stairs and I told her exactly what happened, that he put the gun on me. I told her, here’s my keys, go get in my car. I’m going to grab your things. And we’re getting out of here and calling the police so we get far enough away from the apartments where I can call the police and they immediately head over because he has guns and, you know, he’s threatening me with them and, you know, they arrest him. All this other stuff, we go back to the apartment and I had pets at the time he completely trashed my room and threw their cage across the room with them in it.
CHRIS [00:35:45] Did you say you broke up a little? You said he threw your pets’ cage while your pets were still in it and broke up a little bit.
CALLER [00:35:53] Yeah that’s exactly what he did.
CHRIS [00:35:56] And then you followed up with something else that got swallowed up too.
CALLER [00:36:01] He broke my TV, just completely broke my TV and just trashed my room, and he had several cats at the time and my my rats, when he threw them across the room, got out of their cage, and thankfully they lived they weren’t hurt, but the cats could have totally eaten them and just mauled them to death. But he ended up going into a mental hospital for a couple of days and then they took him to jail for a little bit and then he got out. But nothing really came of it. We moved out immediately. Me and her, me and his his girlfriend, she obviously was not going to continue the relationship with him. And even though he had been one of my best friends for like 12 years, I had to cut off all ties with him after that. And his entire family cut me off like they were like my family. I knew all of his siblings. We all saw each other so often, you know, I knew his nieces and nephews, like I had been in his family and around his family since I was 14 years old. And I’m almost 28 now and they completely took his side because he tried to convince them that I told him to kill himself. He completely mistrewed the story so that he wouldn’t have to be the bad guy when I went out of my way to try to save him and help him in any way possible, I could. And then he pulls a gun on me and says that I tried to tell him to kill himself. I’ve just had so many trust issues after that, I can’t really trust anyone anymore.
CHRIS [00:38:00] I have two thoughts, if that’s OK.
CALLER [00:38:04] Yeah, go for it.
CHRIS [00:38:05] One is, you know, and I’m sure you’ve had similar thoughts too where you’re like. OK, like. Someone whose brother took their own life nine or 10 months earlier. He found the body, he’s working in a job where he still has to enter that apartment. You were there. You were the first person he saw who he knew after he found the body. There is a part of me that’s like, well, of course, at some point that pain is going to build up and he’s going to have to reject, and he probably associates you with it. And if anybody you hear that story, you’re like, well, if anybody deserves a pass on flipping out and winding up in a mental hospital, it’s someone who’s been through that. That being said, he still don’t get to point a gun at you. And I’m sure that that’s, I’m sure that there must be a very odd mix of emotions that’s like I get it. I get that you’re losing, that you have every right to lose it. But also you can’t you can’t cock a gun and try to kill me, like, obviously. And then the second second thing I would say is this is you know. This is a really hard story for you to share, a really hard story to hear, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a more realistic look at how a suicide can just kind of tear apart the fabric of a community, you know,.
CALLER [00:39:44] Exactly, I mean, that’s I’ve been wanting to tell you this story for two years Chris because it’s just it’s so impactful and it really tells you all sides of, you know, the pain that goes on after someone takes their life. You know, if someone doesn’t get help for that, you know, after seeing something like that, it can do some real damage. Not only talk to the person, but everyone around them.
CHRIS [00:40:12] And I know that one of the thoughts that tends to play on a loop, when you start seriously considering taking your own life is this feeling of like everybody else, everybody will be better off without me anyway. That’s I feel like this thing that just kind of echoes and rattles around in your brain constantly and I feel like your story is a very real and personal reminder, nobody is better off without you. Both on in the sense, both in the sense that they value you and your friendship and what you bring to the world and also the aftermath of something like this it’s just going to make.
CALLER [00:40:54] Yeah it affects affects everybody.
CHRIS [00:40:56] Yeah, rewires the DNA of your entire life.
CALLER [00:41:01] Yeah, I mean, there are still days I wake up and I’m like, what are we doing today, you know. What shennanigans are we getting into today? And it’s just like it’s it’s so weird that he’s not here because I’ve spent you know, almost every day for, you know, 10 years with him. You know, we’ve had some crazy life experiences together and the fact that he’s not here to experience anything else like that, again, the fact that I can’t even, you know relate that pain with any of his family members, you know, all of the friends that we had mutually all ditched me because of this. It’s like I’m the one that got hurt. I’m the one that got a gun in my face, but I was there to help him through everything. You know, there are still times to this day where I’m like, if he called me and needed me, I would still pick up the phone even after putting a gun in my face. Even after all the lies, I still care about his well-being. I still care about him a lot. But the fact that none of them care about me and it was so easy just to just let me go just creates even more trust issues for me.
CHRIS [00:42:31] I hear you.
CALLER [00:42:31] It was so easy to just make me the bad guy so they could feel better about themselves.
CHRIS [00:42:35] Right. But also not not knowing. Not knowing anyone in this situation. You’re just describing people to me in the world, but I will say it would not be shocking. You know, you’re not in communication with these people, but it doesn’t sound like it would be shocking at all if everybody was splintering off, if there are other people having conflicts that drove them away from each other and other wedges that came in, relationships that never had them because my guess is that while this is something that’s rocking your entire foundation, you know, just hearing your story as a compassionate individual, I can say, of course, of course, you guys are anyone involved in it at this at this level of closeness is either going to get even closer. Or you’re going to get very far apart. There’s only a couple of options.
CALLER [00:43:38] That’s fair because I mean, me and his the brother’s girlfriend, her and I just completely bonded and attached over this shared drama. And I think what you said is completely true because all of the relationships I had with their family just completely crumbled and her and I’s relationship just flourished from it.
CHRIS [00:44:07] I know that for me, it was when I was at Rutgers that things got really, really dark, really, really scary. And the year or two after I graduated, were, you know, I would say my senior year of college and two years after that were the scariest stretches I had. Also, I look back and realize, though. Where I was coming to life creatively, like oddly also the most exciting times in my life, but. I had a friend with a buddy, I had a conversation with this guy who I had been really close with in college. And just a sweet dude, the kind of guy who made everybody feel good. He’d throw the parties and all different types of people would show up at his house and he made everybody feel welcome and maybe three or four years ago, I mean, we were in our mid 30s, he said to me, he goes, I got to ask you, man, like after college, I’d always get us all back together and I always reach out to you. You always rejected me. I’ve never understood why, because I made such an effort, man, and we’re friends. And I have to say to him from the vantage point of my mid 30s, like I have so much love for you to this day. And this is not your fault. But on some level it’s sort of impossible for me to hang out with you without feeling those feelings again. It’s hard it’s hard for me to be around the group of friends we had and not remember that I was feeling a level of misery, unlike anything I’ve known before since it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a good guy who I have like a real, true, profound respect and love for, but you have kind of had to kind of have to run in the other direction, and I would have to imagine that the person, the person you spend ten minutes crumpled on the ground with a little while after discovering your brother. There’s some sense in which you guys you guys are going to split apart. How will you how will you how will you ever hang out without it being a reminder of the worst, worst day of, you know, probably both of your lives and and his, I would have to imagine undoubtedly so. I’m not letting him off the hook, I’m not making excuses. It sounds like everything became really awful. It sounds like you got painted as the as the villain in all of it. And none of that is fair or justified. But I say all that just so I hope you have maybe, if you don’t have it in your life already, someone who goes is not about you. It is not about you. Everybody’s coming to represent new things in each other’s lives. And you unfortunately were there and you represent that day and that’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. And obviously he should be handling it better instead of pointing weapons at you and destroying your possessions, trying to kill your pet. That’s inexcusable. But it’s not about it’s not about, you. None of it about you.
CALLER [00:47:47] I have these negative feelings like how could they do this to me, you know, all this stuff. But I see it through their perspective to a certain extent, you know, how can you keep a relationship with someone who your son is in legal trouble with, where your brother is in legal trouble with? You know that it’s just not possible. And I understand that. But I just wish things had ended differently. You know, I don’t harbor any hard feelings towards his family. I still love those people. I honestly don’t even harbor any hard feelings towards him anymore. You know, like the first four or five months after it happened, I had the worst time. That was probably the worst time of my life. Every night I would wake up screaming and crying from nightmares of my best friend killing me or nightmares of his brother, my other best friend coming back from the dead and killing me. It was just completely awful. And there were so many things that could have gone differently, and the reason that I was there was for it to go differently. But it just goes to show, like, no matter how hard and hard you try to help the victims of suicide, it’s still going to mess with you.
CHRIS [00:49:16] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, for any for anybody out there, I think, who’s listening and might come across this. Who is suffering, I hope. I hope we’re all hearing it loud and clear, because, again, just to reiterate, you have these feelings, I’m worthless, I probably am annoying everybody anyway. I’m probably such a burden. People will be better off without me and. No, no, no, no. Everybody’s better off with you and these actions drop a nuclear bomb into the lives of the people we love.
CALLER [00:50:01] It really does. You know, even if you feel like you don’t have that many friends, well, you’re not close with your family. You know, it’s still going to affect them immensely, though. They’re going to think about when was the last time I saw them? What was the last time I really got to, you know, sit down and have a conversation with them and tell them that I love them? You know, it doesn’t matter how close you are to someone, it still impacts you in an immense way.
CHRIS [00:50:27] Right, and I also want to say too, I want to say too, I feel like I may have come off as defending his brother’s actions towards you and absolutely not. 1000 percent not. I only am underlining that stuff to say this blew up your life. This blew up his brother’s life. I’m sure there’s dozens and dozens of other people who it blew up their lives and I’m not there’s no world in which I want to be saying, you know anything, the starting point of any of those conversations is, holy shit, I’m happy you got out of there safely and none of that should happen. And I want to just make sure I say that.
CALLER [00:51:09] And I get that.
CHRIS [00:51:10] There’s another thing I want to make sure I say in the course of this call, you had mentioned that your friend sort of dwelled on the thought of I don’t want to live past 25.
CALLER [00:51:22] yeah.
CHRIS [00:51:24] I want to say I remember being like I said, 19, 20, 21, 22, I think 23 was about when I started getting help, 23 years old and. Man, when and I have on this show over and over again, gone on record and said we are really underestimating young people these days, and I don’t I am not a fan of that, but I will say this: when you are young, I feel like so many of us get this idea of if I don’t accomplish things by the time I’m 25, I’m such a failure, what am I even doing? And I don’t know if that was your friend’s exact perspective on it, but I would tell you, I remember so profoundly, man, I’m coming up on 25 years old and I haven’t done a thing with my life. And I can just tell you, I’m about to turn 40 and I can just tell you 25 years is not enough time to accomplish anything, 99 percent of human beings, 25, you’re at the beginning. You’re the beginning, man. You’re at the beginning of everything. You are. And I was so miserable and felt like, oh, man, I’m 25, haven’t done anything I remember. I remember at 27, beautiful things that I finally accomplished, 29, and that’s when I started the show that became my TV show all those years later when I was 30, I booked a sitcom, like all these had all these things. Man, in my career, I haven’t done anything I’m 25. When I was 34, I remember it’s such a beautiful life marker. 36, it was I mean, we’re talking 12, 13, 14, 15 years after I felt like, man, I should just off myself because I’m a failure, all these beautiful moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything, let alone, 34 years old, I get married, 38 years old, I have a son.
CALLER [00:53:33] And I think, honestly, the part that that makes young people feel that way is because our parents generation was so immensely different.
CHRIS [00:53:44] Yes.
CALLER [00:53:44] So different. You know, my mom got married and moved out at 16. She had me 10 years later. They already had a home. They had cars, they were stable. And now I’m like, I’m almost 30. And the only thing I can say I out right own is my car. And I just payed that off 9 months ago.
CHRIS [00:54:01] It’s funny, you know, my dad my dad had two kids and a mortgage he was 27 years old. And I always compare myself to that. But, you know, it’s very eye opening is as you get older, you can start to talk more and more with your parents as peers just because you’re starting to have more life experiences that they had and you’re starting to see their perspective more. And I’ll tell you, you said something that that I find very opening in there where you’re going, she got married when she was 16. She had me when she was 26 and she was stable. And I can say I on my end, maybe that was true for your mom, your mom. I always thought that, too. But I talked to my dad now and my mom now and they’re like, oh, no, we weren’t we weren’t stable at all. We just needed you to think we were stable so you wouldn’t be as scared as we were. [TRANSITION MUSIC]
CHRIS [00:54:46] And you know what, we got to take another break. As you may notice, this second break much later in the episode than you’re used to, figured it was classier to break up my tangential stories about my childhood and family life than some of the other story that I think deserve to be told without interruption, so let’s get into it now, we’ll be right back to finish off the call.
[00:55:07] [AD BREAK]
CHRIS [00:55:12] Thanks again to our advertisers, and now we’re going to finish up a very intense conversation. [TRANSITION MUSIC]
CHRIS [00:55:18] And my mom and dad were like oh no, we weren’t we weren’t stable at all. We just needed you to think we were stable so you wouldn’t be as scared as we were. Like they told me when they got married between the two of them, they had 400 dollars in their bank accounts even in the 70s, not enough money.
CALLER [00:55:39] No no.
CHRIS [00:55:40] So many. This one always. Oh, man, when I was a kid, my brother had this birthday party one year. Oh, I don’t know if I should be talking about this, but my mom set up all these carnival games in our backyard and like, things were just like, you know, I don’t remember the exact ones, but oh it’s a big clown with a big clown head and you got to throw the beanbags through your mouth. And when I was a kid, it felt like magic. I was like, oh, my God, how is this happening in my backyard? And then years later, my mom told me that the preschool my brother and I went to a couple of blocks away, they were throwing all that stuff in the trash. And she went and got them.
CALLER [00:56:30] Oh, wow.
CHRIS [00:56:31] And she and I have this, like, magical moment in my head, and it was that was the thing I had to realize, like, oh, there’s so much more of a backstory to that that I never would have known and and now that I do, it’s still it’s almost in some ways more magical that that happened.
CALLER [00:56:52] Right because they’ve made it magical for you. I have so many moments like that with my mom too where I remember something just being absolutely amazing. And she just went completely out of her way to make it that way for me.
CHRIS [00:57:05] And I say that to say when you’re twenty.
CALLER [00:57:07] Moms are amazing.
CHRIS [00:57:08] Moms and dads in different in different ways. Oh, my God. Thank God for my parents. When you’re when you’re 22, 23, 24 and you’re coming up on 25, so many of us feel that that that’s this big marker, but you haven’t even gotten to the point where the curtain has been pulled back, you you think everybody else has accomplished so much, you think that the generation above yours did so much more. And you don’t even realize they definitely they definitely were just running as scared as you were and and you just haven’t figured it out yet. Like, you haven’t you haven’t seen the well rounded side of those accomplished people yet or those stable people yet. You’re assuming that you don’t have your stuff together compared to them. But the curtain hasn’t been pulled back yet. And you’re fine if you’re 23 and you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything and you’re listening right now, I can tell you that is totally OK and normal. And you’re not supposed you’re not supposed to have accomplished anything yet.
CALLER [00:58:16] No, no way. Oh god at 23, I didn’t even know anything about myself, let alone the world or how to be.
CHRIS [00:58:23] But you thought you did.
CALLER [00:58:27] No, I know most people that age probably do. But lord I was so clueless. It’s funny, the the girl I keep mentioning that I moved out of the apartment with who was dating the brother at the time, she’s significantly younger than me. So I try to, you know, instill my wisdom into her sometimes. And, you know, I tell her when I was your age, I didn’t I didn’t have the inkling of what I wanted to do in life. And don’t let that discourage you. If you get down in a rut, you have to move back into your parents because you lost your job. It’s not the end of the world.
CHRIS [00:59:11] Yeah and.
CALLER [00:59:12] The sun’s still gonna rise.
CHRIS [00:59:14] I am with you.
CALLER [00:59:15] Still going to keep going.
CHRIS [00:59:17] I’m with you 100 percent. And I would even go so far as to say one of my regrets in life is like, not only is it OK to feel that way, it’s actually, such an exciting thing, you look back and realize, man, I didn’t have anything figured out. And I was so stressed about it, but I also was able to, like, stay out all night with my friends and I was working some jobs. You know, you’re working some job you barely care about. And that just means you have so much freedom to just go and fail or quit or get fired and find something new and fall in love with people and try all this stuff your instincts are telling you to try. There’s not, when you when you don’t have much going on, there’s not too many consequences. And that’s so fun, too. And don’t forget that. Don’t forget that. I wanted to ask, you mentioned, something before you had said that your friend had some addiction issues and then in the course of that, you also said he had a bad back, which I found interesting. And I’m wondering. Was this like the situation that we see more and more of the past decade where you have a bad back, you start taking pills and that leads to the addiction stuff? Or am I reading into that to much?
CALLER [01:00:40] 100 percent. No, you’re 100 percent right on that.
CHRIS [01:00:44] This has to stop.
CALLER [01:00:44] He had a bad back his whole life. Yeah. In his early or late teens, he got addicted to Tramadol. And I don’t know if you know anything about that, but it’s it’s highly addictive and it’s it makes the person taking it very, very aggravated and angry. So when he was taking them, he was always just irritable all the time. Nobody really wanted to be around him and he created a problem for himself. And he eventually just got off of them for a really long time, but started abusing alcohol instead. And actually part partially what I believe led up to him doing what he did is he relapsed on the Tramadol.
CHRIS [01:01:32] Yeah. Ooh that makes me so mad.
CALLER [01:01:34] He had pretty bad episodes. Yeah, he had some pretty bad episodes where I knew something wasn’t right. He was being, you know, angry, which he wasn’t normally that person unless he was on Tramadol. And I kind of, you know, kick myself for not seeing the sign. But, you know, but still, there’s nothing I could have I could have done.
CHRIS [01:01:54] Well, look, the fact. The fact that you slipped in the words bad back and I was able to accurately predict that story, this nonsense-
CALLER [01:02:05] It’s an epidemic.
CHRIS [01:02:06] And it has to stop. And here’s the reason it’s not stopping. We all know why. It’s because people are making money.
CALLER [01:02:14] Big Pharma.
CHRIS [01:02:15] People are making money. Yeah. And Big Pharma can afford to give congressman money, they can eat, every lawsuit we want to sue them. Oh, they drop a million dollars, they’re making more. Believe me, OxyContin’s bringing in so much more than that million. That’s just a contingency line item in their budget for the year. And they can pay off congressmen way more than we can. And kids are winding up fucking dead. That’s sick. That’s sick.
CALLER [01:02:51] I just watched a documentary on Netflix about this pharmacist, hold on let me figure out what the name of it was. It’s basically about this pharmacist who does this research on this doctor that’s prescribing everyone in his town, OxyContin. What is it called? It’s called The Pharmacist, of course.
CHRIS [01:03:10] And that guy. So he can have a boat, so he can have a boat and he can have a summer house.
CALLER [01:03:15] Yeah, like if you really want to dig into that, anyone listening, go watch The Pharmacist on Netflix, because that guy literally saves this whole town by just doing due diligence and doing his damn job, you know.
CHRIS [01:03:32] Oh, he’s a good pharmacist giving everybody Oxy?
CALLER [01:03:35] Yeah, he’s a good one. No, he’s a good pharmacist because he starts noticing all these young people coming in with no physical ailments, these high, high prescriptions of OxyContin. And they’re all from the same doctor. He starts pulling reports and all this craziness. I don’t want to get too much into it, but yeah, he basically goes up against this big time doctor in his town and and Big Pharma. So, yeah, he’s a he’s a good pharmacist.
CHRIS [01:04:02] We have thirty seconds left.
CALLER [01:04:05] Oh man, Chris.
CHRIS [01:04:06] I know we could have talked forever. I want to make sure and I’ll make sure you get the final word on this. We’ll give you a little extra. But I just want to say you’ve been through something unimaginable. You’ve been through a ton of pain, a ton of trauma in the aftermath of that pain and the fact that you shared your story with me and anybody who might come across it. You’ve poured out a lot of pain publicly, and I bet it’s going to help other people who are dealing with similar stuff, other people who are thinking about taking the actions that your friend took, you’re showing the real life consequences of this stuff. And that is really hard. And we usually don’t talk about it. And I’m for as painful as it is, I’m really impressed that you shared it because I think it could help a lot of people.
CALLER [01:04:53] I think so, too. I’ve been like I said, Chris, I’ve been waiting to tell you this story for about a year, year and a half, two years. People people need to hear it. It’s not necessarily because of my specific story, because I know other people. Tons of people have gone through the same thing. And it needs to be talked about. You know, if you feel alone, you’re not alone. You know, we’ve all been through something similar.
CHRIS [01:05:19] One hundred percent. And I just want to say to have it on record. We looked up the number I want to say it, not even, we’ll say it in the intro too, 1-800-273-8255. That’s the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You got friends out there, you got family out there, you got people who are ready to fight for you, you got strangers at the other end of that phone number I just read and stay alive. If you’re out there, stay alive. You’ll get to the other side of it. And 25 is not the end of anything.
CALLER [01:05:55] No, it’s just the beginning, it’s just the beginning.
CHRIS [01:05:59] And I hope, I really last thing I’ll say. You’ve demonstrated a lot of vulnerability and you’ve explained a lot of sadness, but you’ve also demonstrated great strength and I hope you lean on that strength and trust in that strength. And it will be many more years until it feels like this is a memory of any sort, it’s probably never going to go away. But please stay strong on your end, too. And you said that you had very few people helping you because you were always trying to help other people. So let me just be one person to say I see how hard this is for you. And I know I’m not in your life for real, but understand that I see it and I hear it. And I appreciate everything you’re doing for the people around you. And I hope you take the time for yourself as well.
CALLER [01:06:49] Thank you, Chris. I really appreciate it. You have no idea how much this helped.
CHRIS [01:06:59] I have to say to the caller I just had that conversation with I know I said it in the course of the call, but thank you so sincerely. Not easy to share the story you just shared. Not easy at all. And it means a lot to me and I’m sure a lot of other people that you did. I bet it’s going to offer some help to the world. So, so sincerely. Thanks again. Thank you. Jared O’Connell and Anita Flores in the booth. Thank you Shellshag for the music. Thank you again, caller. That was really beautiful. And we’ll see you next time. [MUSIC TRANSITION]
CHRIS [01:07:47] Just want to remind everybody we’ve heard a lot today, I’m sure it affected many people in many ways, if you’re thinking about suicide, if you’re worried about a loved one, or if you just need emotional support. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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