Parents Of Suicide
Writings Library

Anita Triplett
Frbruary 8, 2000

Marjola, you have mentioned how you at first blamed Lynn for Tristan's death. (I know you blame yourself). Unfortunately, this "blame thing" can really eat away at marriages. David and I have been lucky in that way. We both blame ourselves, but not each other. It just worked out that way.

You know Danny also shot himself with a gun. It was David's gun (one of the belongings of his deceased brother). David never really had an interest in guns, nor did Danny, for that matter. Yes, Danny loved all the computer games you speak of, yet growing up, he didn't like violent or scary movies. Of course, as a teenager, he started seeing the popular movies that most teens liked.

What I'm trying to say is, it doesn't seem to matter what the externals are, for children like ours---both Tristan and Dan were loved so very much by devoted parents who would have done anything they could think of, to try to help their sons. Both Tristan and Dan were good, sweet boys, who never seemed to have any vitriol towards anyone. It was all internalized----it was what they thought of themselves---whatever positives we told them, wouldn't have made any difference. Of course, if we knew they were severely depressed and suicidal, we would have had a better chance to save their lives. I can say all these things intellectually, and I do think it. But emotionally, I am far from it. Emotionally, I blame myself for losing Dan.

One of the most vivid scenes in my mind is that last Friday night before Dan took his own life (he killed himself in the wee hours of Monday morning). On that Friday night, we had dinner together, and spent some time together at the mall---a very unusual occurrence at that time----Dan did most everything with his friends. He did tell me he was depressed (he had just gotten out of day treatment for school phobia, anxiety, etc.), and that is why I suggested we spend some time together that evening. I had no idea how dangerously depressed he was. But the vivid, haunting scene, I mentioned, happened after we got home from the mall that night. I went into my bedroom to relax, and a short time later, Dan came in to chat, or so I thought. He off-handedly remarked that he was looking for a certain gun that he saw his dad clean.

An "alarm" didn't ring in my brain!! I was perplexed and angered, thinking Dave would have showed Danny a gun. I said to Dan, "what gun, dad showed you a gun???". He said very casually and calmly, "oh, mom that was about 7 years ago--- it was just a starter gun"(or I asked him if he meant a starter gun---that is used for target practice and doesn't use live ammunition).

Dan did like to use Dave's bow and arrow set for target practice in the backyard. I foolishly took this in the same vain, or so I think. At any rate, I pointed to a valise that was on top of Dave's wardrobe closet. I didn't really know what was in there.

Dan pulled this case down, and opened it up right in front of me. Inside was a revolver (it turned out to be a "357 magnum") with many loose bullets in the case. I don't know anything about guns, but I realized this was a dangerous gun. Danny then proceeded to pick up the gun, twirl the bullet chamber, which appeared empty, and pointed the gun at me, and clicked the trigger. I became really annoyed and angry---and told Dan never to point a gun at anyone, even if you think it's empty. He said, "aw, mom it's a joke", and then did the same thing to himself--putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger (which made sort of an empty sound). I took the small suitcase away from him, and Dave came in from work minutes later (he worked late that night which hardly ever happened). I immediately told Dave about what Dan did---Danny was right there. Dave also voiced his displeasure, and we both said this gun was to be locked up.

Well, the next day, Dan went off to a friend's house for the weekend; Dave and I completely forgot about the gun. Dave had put it back on the top of the closet that night---we were both exhausted, and forgot to lock it up. But Dave never saw what Danny actually did with the gun, like I did. I only told him about it when he got home. Yes, Danny acted very casually about the whole thing, and said it was a joke. But that was not like Danny. I never saw him hold a gun or talk about guns, before that night. How could I have been so "brain dead"? In hindsight, I realize it was such a bizarre thing to have happened---Danny pointing a gun at me, and then himself---why didn't a "bell" go off?

Yes, he shot himself with that gun. But, you know, in his suicide letter, he told us he also overdosed on his medications, and if he messed up with the gun, he would find another way. I realize now that his talk of seeing a boy on top of the water tower in our town-- was another clue to his thoughts of killing himself (by jumping off that tower). After his death, some of his friends told me that Dan told them he had climbed that tower. They said they didn't SEE him climb the tower, nor did Dan speak of suicide but they did witness him doing dangerous things, i.e. like climbing a high telephone pole. You know how teens are---they don't squeal on their friends. Right after Danny died, Dave told me he thought I hated him, and would blame him forever because he didn't lock up the gun. He had always locked his guns up, but took this one out to try to sell it----and then he forgot about it. Neither of us realized Dan was suicidal. I don't know why we didn't realize it.

I have always hated guns. Before we even conceived Dan, I once saw David's guns. He took some out to clean. He was a country boy, and had a hunting rifle, a pellet gun, and his brother's gun. I asked him if he would sell his guns, because I hated them; but you see, it was one of the few things he had left from his past (his father died shortly after his brother's death; he had no one left in West Virginia where he grew up.). But, believe it or not, I said at that time, "Dave, suppose we have a child some day----you know how morose teenagers can become---I wouldn't want any guns to be around". I was semi-serious, but it was so much in the abstract.

But it really isn't about guns, is it!? A week after Danny died, a 12-year-old boy in our same school district, hung himself---I think his father had guns, but he found another way.

Don't get me wrong, Marjola. I am against the gun lobby. I think all handguns should be outlawed. I don't even like guns for hunting, because I'm against hunting. The easiest way to kill, is with a gun.

I not only blame myself for the gun being available to Dan. I blame myself for the things I shouldn't have said, or should have said. I blame myself for all the things I should have done, and didn't, and even for some of the things I shouldn't have done, but did. And so on it goes. Don't all of us bereaved parents do this, especially if our child takes his/her own life?

Anita Triplett