Friday, 15 February 2008

A story of hate

I have to say thank you to Boston Gal's Open Wallet for drawing my attention to this story on Oprah's website about Sylvia, who's life and financial health were devastated when her husband, Joe, committed suicide after running up huge debts leaving her with nothing. Please, read the story on Oprah and then come back here.

There is far more to this than meets the eye. It isn't just the story of a woman who's husband committed suicide because he couldn't see his way out and wanted the world to stop. Most suicides are not about "I want to die"; they are about "I want xxxx to stop. I can't take it any more". What struck me was the huge depth of hatred that Joe had for his wife and family. Joe's suicide was less about being unable to live with their debts and more about wanting to wound. He was determined to leave a legacy of pain behind, well beyond the level of grief a family would feel at the death of a loved one. This is why I think that:-
  • Joe cancelled the life insurance policy, guaranteeing that his wife and children would lose their home. Despite life feeling so bad that suicide becomes the only way out, most loving parents worry about what will happen to their children - often that is the reason suicidal women make their last call for help after taking the tablets. (A variant on the "I can't go on like this" suicidal mindset are the thoughts "I am bringing my children down. I am a blight on their lives. They would be better off without me.") A more normal response would be for the suicide to rationalise their death by thinking: "Now they don't have to live with me going bankrupt. They will have the life insurance money to take care of them".
  • My gut tells me that a loving dad would not want to be found dead by his children, "I don't want them to see me like this", so would kill himself away from the family home. The article doesn't say how he died, but in America it is statistically likely that he shot himself. I may be wrong with this assumption, but it seems to me that he wanted them to suffer the horror of finding him dead in the garage, blood and brain matter everywhere.
  • Joe was an abusive husband. He was very controlling of his wife and was probably physically abusive (Oprah uses the phrase "physically aggressive"). The children would sleep in the marital bed "to protect mommy". He intimidated Sylvia into doing what he wanted, forcing her to become his template "wife". No matter what they claim, abusive husbands rarely love their wives: they hate them; they despise them; they belittle them; if only their wife became x, y or z, then they would bestow their love on them.
Nothing will take away the pain and grief Sylvia and her children have suffered. I hope that with the help of their family they will be able to rebuild their lives and, instead of having their lives defined and limited by the pain of Joe's suicide, the effect is "Daddy died. After that, we learned to live and be free".

- Pam

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