I’m not really sad anymore about what happened, but that is because of the circumstances that I’ve come to understand much better now, and because I’ve had the opportunity to gather and learn information and process exactly how things all went down.
My brother Michael committed suicide September 1st 2020 at 11:42:26 p.m. I often feel like I have to at least try to bring logic to illogical situations. I’ve got to dig in, figure out how things work, and break down a timeline to figure out how things all went down. I guess it’s the “Sailor”, and more specifically “Submarine Sailor”, in me than anything, that demands to know how things happened. Whenever even the slightest thing goes wrong, we get together and have what we call a “Critique”. It’s how we breakdown the events that lead up to mishaps.
For one thing, our family is and has been so far beyond dysfunctional since I can remember, that it’s no wonder that someone that never escaped that environment would resort to such an end. Although I wasn’t immune to it as a teenager, as an early adult I was afforded an opportunity to escape it by joining the Navy, and in my escape, came to the realization that this is not how normal healthy families operate. I’m so much f***ing better than all of that now.
My stepdad stepped out on my mother some 10 years after my joining the Navy, which unfortunately created a situation where my brother, who was 12 years younger than me, was pretty much given free rein in a house without any other dominant male to keep him going in the right direction, not to say that if Stepdad was there it would’ve really made much of a difference. Under my advisement, my mother informed my brother he was to no longer engage in certain activities so long as he was living in the house or she’d call the police, and if he were to continue this, he had to leave. He moved out and began renting a house.
Sometime later my parents became officially divorced and sold the house. Michael was renting was in a less than desirable part of the community and decided to buy a house in a quiet sub-division. He enlisted my parents to assist him in making the purchase by making a down payment, money which they had received from selling our childhood home following their divorce. Michael was never held accountable or made to experience the consequences of bad decisions he made – only when he was in relationships that were ending. He’d threaten suicide if the relationships were going to end, and early on, within the first couple times, it would work. Being lonely, depressed, angry, that wasn’t really enough for him to do it, I don’t think. I think his relationships played a part, but it wasn’t the ultimate factor. See, although I don’t discount that he did have emotional, depression, or other psychological issues, Michael was setup for failure and could not break his own cycle of making bad decisions.
On the night Michael killed himself, he and his girlfriend of 3 months had a dinner date, and had an argument. He drank too much that evening, and she informed him once they had arrived back at her home that if this was what a relationship with him would be like, she couldn’t do it. Not that they were breaking up, but that his behavior couldn’t continue if they were going to be a couple. He took this to mean they were breaking up. He informed her that he’d kill himself if they were to breakup. She told Michael she had to go to the bathroom and immediately called my mom and informed her that he was saying the things he was saying.
She recommended my mom and Stepdad go to Michael’s house, get his gun out of the house, and come pick him up. During that conversation, Michael secretly leaves her home, and arrives back at his house around 11:00pm. Michael had the Nest camera system set up in his home, which stores footage on a cloud and can be later viewed or live streamed on his phone. This is footage I later viewed after the police returned the phone to me. Following his arrival at his house, due to his movement through the house, the cameras begin recording. My parents arrive at his house shortly after he gets there, about 15 minutes or so, at around 11:17pm.
Discussions take place between Michael and our parents. Discussions about his behavior, how he can’t threaten suicide, and he has the gun in his hands during all of it. He kicked them out of his house around 11:25. Fearful he might actually hurt himself, they call the police. Less than 10 minutes later, around 11:35, the police arrive and are speaking with my parents outside the home, unbeknownst to Michael, as he’s been upstairs talking to his girlfriend who has said she’ll come over and talk to him. The phone line between them will remain open for the next 22 minutes.
At 11:41 he comes downstairs without the phone, gun in hand, disarms his alarm, unlocks his front door, lays the gun down on a table by the front door, and exits his house. On his living room camera, through one of his front windows, he can be seen looking around, as if to see if his girlfriend has arrived, and where my parents are.
He hasn’t stepped off the porch or out of the view of the living room camera that can see out the front window. He puts his hands back down, turns around, opens the front door, re-enters the house to the police shouting “don’t go back in the house!”, shuts the front door, locks it, picks up the shot gun, racks it, and disappears up the stairs. Once he reaches the top of the stairs his bedroom door can be heard opening, and slamming shut. About three seconds later at 11:42:26, the blast from the shotgun can be heard, followed by the sound of his body and the shotgun hitting the floor. His girlfriend texts my mom, I think he just fired his gun, he’s not saying anything. She won’t arrive at his house until 11:56.
At 11:44, the police can be heard on the cameras from their loudspeaker attempting to inform him that they just wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to hurt himself – they didn’t want to take him to jail. It was too late. He had already killed himself, senselessly. Michael’s girlfriend finally arrives and tells police she thinks he already did it, she heard the gunshot on the phone, but they discount her assessment saying that if there was a gunshot they would’ve heard it. Eventually they convince my parents to leave, come back in the morning, and disestablish the scene. My parents return at around 7:15am, and go in to find my brother lying on the floor.
Don’t tell me you’re sorry for me, you’re praying for me or my family, or any of that. Michael made his decision. It was his to make. There’s nothing for any of you to be sorry for or pray about. The end.
One thought on “Jail or death…. or so he thought.”
I am 68 and my baby brother shot himself in 2004. I have to agree with you. He made his decision. He was enabled by my parents his entire life and never accepted responsibility for his own actions. I am sorry that I cannot enjoy him as my brother. However, you are correct. Sorry and prayer will change nothing.