Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Suicide Notes

I've read a lot of suicide notes in my life, or rather, I haven't.  By definition, the suicidal people who come to my hospital are ones who survived the attempt. The ones I see are going to be heavily weighted toward those who at least partly, somewhere, ambivalently wanted to live. And yet there are circumstances where people do survive by ridiculous accident, and if they have previously left a suicide note, you can treat it as authentic.  All the notes have some authenticity in them. It is rare to see one that is entirely gestural and attention-seeking.  All of us have mixed motives in everything we do and try to raise the good motives and lower the selfish ones as best we can.

You learn quickly about suicide notes, as about later self-justifications, that people are not reliably truthful.  Sometimes they do not know their own motives, sometimes they wish that their statements were true, sometimes they flat out lie.

I thought of this when someone in a comment section linked to the story of the lesbian couple who had the many mixed race adoptive children, who drove off a cliff with the lot of them. Notice that the article is slanted sympathetically, that the story that they had had a cross burned in their yard by some Minnesota KKK-style group was possible - even likely, they hint. Well, they're from the UK for openers, so unlikeliness of a KKK in Minnesota of enough size to risk going out even in darkness and lighting up a cross in someone's yard isn't that surprising.

In the discussion, someone angrily wrote "If they knew they were about to kill themselves, what motive would they have to lie about a thing like that?" I thought of the suicide notes. It's not reliably the time when people lie least; for many, it is the time they lie most.

1 comment:

RichardJohnson said...

When last month I read Minnesota with KKK and cross burnings, my BS meter went off. After all, Minnesota is the state which is suing school districts to make sure that black students are not disciplined more harshly than other students. (The St. Paul school district tried that several years ago, with disastrous consequences. But that is another story.) Not exactly KKK country.

Google Advanced Search @ Minneapolis Star Tribune for Jennifer Hart.

First hit on the Strib: Years of abuse allegations gathered on Oregon parents who drove over ocean cliff with kids

Newly released state documents from Minnesota and Oregon reveal years of food deprivation and other allegations of troubling punishment by the parents of six children in the family that plummeted down a northern California cliff in the SUV into the ocean....
The women countered that they were under scrutiny for “being a vegetarian lesbian couple who married and adopted high-risk abused children,” according to the Oregon investigation. They told investigators that they were harassed in Minnesota by people who slashed their vehicle tires, made threats and egged their home. They moved to Oregon in early 2013 to better fit in.
Among the information collected from Minnesota was a criminal case filed in 2010 against Sarah Hart, when the family lived in Alexandria. Abigail Hart was 6 years old when she told a teacher at Woodland School that she had “owies” from when “Mom hit me,” according to the criminal complaint. The teacher lifted the girl’s shirt and saw bruises on the child’s chest and back, the charges continued.
Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault. Her 90-day jail sentence in April 2011 was stayed, and she served a year’s probation.
However, that case was no isolated incident of alleged child abuse in Minnesota by the Harts. In two months’ time in late 2010 and early 2011, six additional allegations were filed with Child Protective Services. They said Abigail Hart was spotted going through garbage at school and was taking other students’ food, and Jennifer Hart was accused of hitting Abigail’s head against a wall.
Hannah Hart had a small bruise on her hand from being hit by Jennifer Hart for lying, and Jennifer was hitting Hannah “all the time.” Children in Hannah’s class were giving the girl food, and she was approaching fellow students for something to eat.
Asked by a Minnesota investigator about discipline in the home, “the children talked about not getting supper, getting sent to bed without food, being made to stay in bed all day, or stand in the corner for a long time.”...

Those examples of abuse in Minnesota lead me to discount the allegations of KKK, cross burnings etc. I would consider it more likely that Jessica Hart was a Norwegian Bachelor Farmer than that the KKK had burned a cross on Jessica Hart's lawn.