The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a self-employed woman. I was very shocked that a friend of mine committed suicide. I have yet to recover from the painful experience.
The friend was a single woman. I met her when she came to the store that I operate with my husband. We’d gradually become good friends, and as a result, we were on good terms and talked about various matters openly to ask for advice or help each other. Our relationship had lasted that way for five or six years.
We saw each other almost every day, brought dishes to each other’s homes and went out to concerts together.
However, one day, I received a phone call from police and was suddenly informed she had killed herself. They told me I was the last person to make a phone call to her. As she didn’t answer my phone call at that time, I sent her an e-mail. Then, she sent me a reply mail that read, “I’m out now, so I’ll contact you later.” Immediately afterward, she departed from this world. She was still in her 50s.
She didn’t leave a farewell note, so I don’t know why she committed suicide.
Why didn’t she tell me about how she felt or ask for my help or advice? It was so painful that I became ill. It’s very tough for me to write this letter now, too.
Dear Ms. W:
It’s shocking for all of us if a good friend dies. Even worse, she committed suicide suddenly without hinting to you even slightly of her intention. I tried to find some words to help ease your sadness at least a little bit. However, even if I say such ordinary things as, “I can understand how you feel,” “It’s not your fault; it couldn’t be helped,” or “Your pain will be eased as time goes by,” they probably won’t really help you.
After reading your letter many times, I felt like your regrets intensify your anguish when you think, “We were such good friends, so why didn’t she tell me about a problem that was so serious that it led to her death?” and “I contacted her right before she took her own life. Why didn’t she decide not to do it?” So I tried to find some answers to cope with the situation.
I truly feel she sincerely didn’t want to involve you in what she did. She appreciated she’d had a truly good time being with you for the last five or six years. So she didn’t want to stain her good relationship with you with her dark, private agony. So, she liked you that much.
I think it’s important now for you to accept her feelings.
I mean quietly mourning her, rather than trying too much to find out the reasons or causes for her actions.
Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist