On a warm July night in 1985, I drove to the Capital Drive in Movie Theater to watch “Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome.”
I was 22 years old and had just graduated from West Valley College with my AA degree in French. My friend Arthur who was 33 years old had suggested that we see the film. I was saddened by my father’s death the year before, but I was hopeful about starting at San Jose State University in the Fall as a transfer student.
On this July night, I parked next to the speaker at the drive in theater in my 1984 Toyota Pickup Truck and pulled it into the window of my truck.
Arthur and I chatted about West Valley College and the Oakland Raiders and Sammy Hagar. Arthur suddenly said when I get my check this month, I am going to get my gun out of the pawn shop and kill myself.
I was very angry at Arthur. I was outraged and insisted that he stop talking about it. Arthur kept talking about it, and I drove Arthur home before the movie ever started. I never told anyone what Arthur had said to me. I never spoke to Arthur again.
A month later, Arthur’s brother Bill called me and told me Arthur had killed himself with his shot gun. Bill asked me to be a pall bearer at Arthur’s funeral, and I accepted the honor.
It took me many years to accept what had happened. I felt grief as well as tremendous guilt over many years. My friend Arthur’s suicide was very painful for me.
I wish that I had known to ask someone knowledgeable about Arthur’s intentions to kill himself. I wish I had known what I could do.
Please watch this video by Janet Childs from the Center for Living with Dying about what to say to someone who talks about taking their life: