Archive for the ‘police detective’ Category

When my husband John and I got home from the hospital on the afternoon of our daughter Mary’s suicide, half a dozen family cars lined the driveway and a bright blue police car sat at the curb in front of the house. A police detective was still upstairs going through trashcans, placing Mary’s suicide note in an envelope marked “Evidence,” and trying to determine what the crime scene, Mary’s bedroom, might be revealing. Members of my family were seated downstairs while the investigation took place.

“Many survivors [of suicide] report that detectives spend a good deal of time looking for evidence of ‘foul play’; they do not–or cannot–accept, at face value, the story of a suicide,” write Christopher Lukas and Henry Seiden. “The way survivors are questioned is often vigorous and accusatory as the police go about their business” (Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide, pp.17-18).

But as far as I know, no family member seated in the living room was questioned at all. In fact, when I walked in to deliver the terrible news to them, the detective was still upstairs and didn’t come down for several minutes. After he appeared, he politely asked if I was her mother, said “I’m sorry, Ma’am,” and then took his briefcase full of evidence and left.

It was a relief to know he’d be driving his blue cruiser away from the curb. To my thinking, the car had been a billboard announcement of something gone drastically wrong in our home, possibly something illegal; and I resented having that message flashed to the world.

At a remove of seventeen years, however, I appreciate what the detective was trying to do at our home that Sunday: his job. I can’t imagine living in a country where the death of a teen aroused no legal concern or investigation. Though I never learned his name, I did finally understand the value of the detective’s respectful, unobtrusive presence at the scene of my daughter’s suicide: it didn’t make things worse. By not making things worse for my family, by not retraumatizing us, the unknown detective ended up helping.

Read Full Post »