Suicide a powerful story from an extract from a true event

Jun 1, 2022

The Myth of Infallibility


This is an extract from a Counsellors experience, if you need support please do not hesitate to contact

After finishing our psychotherapy session, I walked alongside my client to the waiting room. 

One month short of his 20th birthday, he’d spent the hour avoiding talk of his unpleasant past. Instead, he’d waxed hopeful about college and a more intellectually stimulating future. 

He’d asked me to read a few of his freshly written poems. Instead, as usual, I asked him to read his words to me.

“Thank you,” he said. His eyes met mine, another unusual move for him. His discomfort with direct social contact quickly resurfaced, and his gaze dropped back to the floor.

“Sure, *****,” I said. “Happy to help. See you next time.”

There was no next time. Three days later, my client was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Early Wednesday morning, our home phone rang. It was My clients older brother. “Therapist,” he said. “I’m sorry to call you at home.” There was a brief pause. “****** killed himself yesterday. My parents wanted you to know.” self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A Number of years later,

“I was touched to hear I might’ve been my clients best friend, but if I was that close to him, I should’ve been able to save him.”

I’d worked with my client for about 20 sessions. Stocky, socially awkward, and intellectually gifted, he often avoided telling me much of anything, but his unhappiness was palpable. 

He didn’t fit in with classmates or connect with teachers. My client felt like a misfit at home and out of place at school. Nearly always, he experienced the grinding pain of being different, regardless of the context.

But aren’t we all different? Don’t we all suffer grinding pain, at least sometimes? What pushed My client to suicide when so many others, with equally difficult life situations and psychodynamics, stay alive?

One truth that reassures me now, and I wish I’d grasped back in the 1990s, is that empirical research generally affirms that suicide is unpredictable. 

This reality runs counter to much of what we hear from well-meaning suicide-prevention professionals.

You may have heard the conventional wisdom: “Suicide is 100 percent preventable!” and, “If you educate yourself about risk factors and warning signs, and ask people directly about suicidal thoughts or plans, you can save lives.”

If you’re reading this, you may have a suicide and loss story of your own, or you may face one in the future. 

Death by suicide usually leaves an aftermath of guilt, anger, sadness, shock, disorientation, and numbness.

While suicide can’t always be predicted or prevented—the research is clear about this—therapists are often tasked with doing exactly that. 

One Australian research group has recommended discontinuing the practice of categorizing suicide risk as mild, moderate, and high—because we’re more than likely to be wrong.