Howie’s column from today (Howie column ping)
Suicidal caller rings close to home
By Howie Carr | Friday, February 6, 2009 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Columnists
Anyone who hosts a radio talk show for any length of time will eventually get a call from a listener whos contemplating suicide.
But the way the economy has been tanking, I think its going to be happening more and more.
Still, I wasnt expecting Carol to lose it on me last week. She said she was 54, from Jonesport, Maine. After talking briefly about her 23-year-old neighbor who she said is collecting $690 a month on SSDI, she began speaking about how shed been looking for a job for 2 years but couldnt find one.
My mortgage is only $414.21 a month, she said, and I cant afford it in the United States of America.
She told me shed tried to kill herself last February by taking 100 pills but that her daughter had found her. But now, she said, she was thinking about it again.
Now, this is not the kind of call I solicit. My job is to entertain you, not depress you. So when Carol mentioned suicide, my first response was to try to snap her out of it without appearing to be a callous brute, which is what I basically am. Dont kill yourself, I said. Sell those pills to the junkie and you can get some of her SSDI.
But by then she was crying, so I had to try a different tack. I told her what a bad mistake it is to kill yourself. Your family never recovers from a suicide, I told her.
She said she didnt want to be a burden on her two daughters.
Its a bigger burden to kill yourself, Carol, I said, because that way, theyll always be asking, what could I have done?
We went on for a while, and finally I had to cut her off. But other callers wanted to keep talking about Carols obvious despair over her financial plight, so I told them what I knew about suicide in times of economic turmoil.
In 1931, my maternal grandfather killed himself. He worked in the post office in Monroe, N.C. Ive never really been clear about why he did it - a common theme, Ive discovered - but one reason Ive heard was the Depression. Supposedly hed lost some money, but I dont know for sure.
All I know is, my grandfather went down to the basement of the post office and blew his brains out, and that was basically the end of my mothers family. The relatives urged my grandmother to put her five kids into an orphanage. She kept things together by giving piano lessons in return for food.
Another caller, Judy, addressed her remarks to Carol.
Youre not alone, she said. The economy has affected a lot of us. Suicide, if youre thinking about it, is final. Its not a final solution, Carol, but it is final.
I hope Carol was still listening. She deserves better. So do her daughters.
Listen to the audio of “Carols” phone call at the
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