Murder suicide. It’s the stuff of nightmares, real everyday, can happen at anytime nightmares. Often there is an element of delay because there is a second, albeit just a flash back to reality for the deranged person who is holding the instrument of death. Most often it is a gun. What happens in those seconds of lucidity? If we knew perhaps we could find better ways to understand what causes this clarity to erode and the murderous mind return and do its dirty work.
Just days before my debut novel was to be released, I opened my news feed to see the top story reported on something called the Deadline. How insensitive! You see the photo on the click-able video of a beautiful young woman. Shot to death by her boyfriend in an apparent murder suicide. Here’s the link. https://tv.yahoo.com/news/stephanie-moseley-dead-actress-vh1-024942668.html?soc_src=copy
What we see reported in celebrity cases, happens on a much larger scale in the lives of the not famous as well. I had a relative by marriage lose his father nearly in such a way. Had his mother not escaped, she likely would have been killed before his father died. To this day no one fully understands what set this man off into such a rage to seclude himself and threaten her. No one knows why he stopped taking medicines necessary for his physical health and stopped eating. Sulking was in his nature, but no one, not even his wife knows why this time was different. What pushed him over the edge?
I guess I’d heard of it before, but the time that embedded itself indelibly in my consciousness was another celebrity case. It stayed with me for a few reasons I suppose. He was one of my favorite all time SNL actors, and he died close to my birthday.
Phil Hartman of SNL fame apparently was murdered by his wife whom he had threatened to leave if she started using drugs again. The reports say that she was intoxicated and had recently used cocaine. There was a weird set of confessions by his wife Brynn (obviously because of the intoxication and drugs) which resulted in the police coming to their home. During the time that they were “removing the Hartmans’ two children from the premises, she locked herself in the bedroom and committed suicide, shooting herself in the head.” In this case too there was the appearance of normalcy and a pondering about what caused this one argument to escalate to the point of death. Wikipedia reports “A friend stated that Brynn allegedly “had trouble controlling her anger … She got attention by losing her temper.”
“ A neighbor of the Hartman’s told a CNN reporter that the couple had been experiencing marital problems: “It’s been building, but I didn’t think it would lead to this”, and actor Steve Guttenberg said they had been “a very happy couple, and they always had the appearance of being well-balanced.”” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Hartman
Ever known of someone whose wife/husband threatened to kill themselves if there was a break up? What if it was before they married? Could you have the courage to stand during the ceremony and object to their legal union? I’ve asked myself this question so I figured it was fair to pose it to you as well. For me the answer is this. There is no fear in love. Let me repeat. There is no fear in love. But love is often overshadowed by the pressures of this world, and if a person isn’t keeping themselves in the light they can easily be dragged into sheer utter darkness. I’ve had someone threaten killing themselves if I stopped seeing them. He didn’t do it, but It’s a dreadful memory none the less . Awful things go through your mind. Somehow internally to you, it becomes your responsibility, this person’s happiness and their very life. However it is far from under your control. I’ve wondered about these apparent murder-suicides if they didn’t all stem from some form of this, ‘if you leave I’ll kill myself’.
To me it is the ultimate form of bullying but with a dagger of a twist in that you love this person. You want this person to have the best possible life, with you or without you. There must be an enormous amount of pleading in these moments prior to the act. I can’t imagine feeling like it is all up to you and you have absolutely no control at the same time. It’s the highest form of selfishness and truly a form of abuse in that it is the ultimate point of control. I’m going to kill you, and oh by the way, I will kill myself too because you wouldn’t do what I wanted. What must the mind of the victim be like in those moments? And what of children in these circumstances. So many stories tell us that children either witness these events or stumble upon the scene after hearing gunshots. How would that change your life and all your relationships going forward?
In my novel Diamond Road, these issues are present. Bullying by verbal and physical abuse is bad enough, but threatening to kill someone and then commit suicide, well that’s the worst bullying can get besides actually doing it.
Prayers for every family affected by this type of death, especially those who suffer it in silence.SPOILER ALERT…… A critical scene from DIAMOND ROAD
“You aren’t going and that’s final. Where’s Jamie?”
She peeped up again and saw her mother turn her head slightly and look out the door. The panicked look on her face when she saw her daughter there and the horrible feeling in
Jamie translated the words as warning, as protection.
As she looked deep into her child’s eyes she answered the question with a lie. “She’s spending the night with the Kirby’s.” Then her mother mouthed the words,
I Love You. Run
“James, I can’t sit in this chair forever. You have to let me go.” She started to rise from the chair and the gun reappeared. Jamie heard the blast and then saw her mother’s head fall lifelessly down onto her chest, the spray of its contents staining the pale pink dress she wore in hopes of charming her husband out of his rage.
Jamie gasped for air but nothing found its way into her lungs. A second later there was another shot, this time staining the white sheers that hung over the window in the wooden door.
Instead of instinctively running towards them or away, Jamie froze. She sat silently on the back porch steps of her home in a broken daze. An hour later she stood up and went in the front door, picked up the suitcase her mother had packed for their visit to her grandmothers and walked out.
As she walked up the road to Josh’s she put one foot in front of the other and followed the diamond road to the only family she had now.