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The Saddest Thing I Own: Missing Ben
The Saddest Thing I Own

The Saddest Thing I Own

A collection of life's saddest objects, their sad stories, and our reasons for holding onto these sad things.


Missing Ben

Posted On Sunday April 30, 2006 By Joel

Sad Image

This is a picture of my brother-in-law and me hamming it up in 1997. When I started dating his sister, he was a 10-year-old shy little boy. By the time this photo was taken, our 10-year age gap was no longer relevant – he was 16 and one of my favorite people to be around. 5 months later, while destabilized by depression, he took his own life. He never got to meet our kids and be the entertaining uncle my wife and I knew he would be.

Tags: depression, family, suicide


Other People's Thoughts

Sorry to hear about this. Was he gay? This is a serious question. Many young men his age can’t handle the thought of having to “come out” or of living a lie for the rest of his life.


— Roy    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


Ok, so I submitted the missing cat story and after reading this, I feel like a jerk.


— Frog    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


I would say “no.” He had started taking anti-depressants about a month before his death. But obviously, there was a lot going on inside him that no one else knew about. By the way, I hope your question wasn’t prompted by the male-male affection happening in this photo – that was the “hamming up” I was referring to in my post.


— Joel    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


I am sorry to hear that. I lost my (soon to be at the time) brother in law 10 weeks before my wedding. I miss that he will never meet my husband and I’s kids and be that cool charismatic uncle we knew he would be ;~) My thoughts and prayer are with you.


— Jessica    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


My little brother also took his own life at 16… (last year) I was thinking about posting his picture on this site, but, then I realized that I still can’t look at/touch any of those pictures yet.


— Erienne    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


I’m so very sorry, Joel. My cousin took his own life several years ago. It was a horrible shock to everyone. Love and healing to you and yours. This photo is a beautiful memory of him.


— ScrappyCat    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


He reminds me of myself when i was 16. My first instinct was that he was gay too. Not because of the hamming. it’s his eyes. It is very sad he took his life, but keep in mind your wife undoubtly has many genes in common with him. And a small portion of him will continue in your children. Such is life.


— David Srigley    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


I must also say that my first though was that he was gay, also because of his eyes. Having recently come out after a long “repression” I can testify that it can be very hard living through the teenage years…


— Krogath    Sunday April 30, 2006    #


Why are any of you speculating as to his sexuality? You can’t see ‘gay’ in someone’s eyes; you’re just trying to make sense of something that escapes sense-making. Please express your sympathy and hold your speculation.


— Lizzy    Tuesday May 2, 2006    #


There seems to be something about that age in males…my brother had a “sligth” breakdown when he was a few months from graduating high school. That needed rest turned into a life time spent in institutions, never since that time able to be out and on his own…he died some 8 months ago, age 75. Many young men seem up against something at that age. Not all are the same problems, I imagine, but a good deal remains to be learned to prevent such tragedies.


— fred lapides    Tuesday May 2, 2006    #


I’m taking Wellbutrin and I’ve read the insert that came with it. All anti-depressants now carry a suicide warning. I’ve heard that someone is more likely to commit suicide in the first few months of taking an anti-depressant before it fully takes effect. It may be necessary to try several different ones before you find one that works.


— Mike    Tuesday May 2, 2006    #


There is only one reason why someone takes their own life. Because they can no longer tolerate the pain of living. That is not a flip assessment. I missed at my attempt. I am grateful to be alive but with all honesty I still consider it an option. What Ben did is not to be copied and not to be dismissed as conplusive teenage immaturity. It was an act to rid himself of his demons. A dark place only known to him. RIP my ‘brother’ I hope you found your peaceful garden.


— augustknight    Tuesday May 2, 2006    #


My condolences. My sister-in-law took her life last summer. She was depressed because of money woes, mainly. It was also the final affront against her daughter who came out, began a serious relationship with her partner and became pregnant via artificial insemination. She left behind a journal stating that she did not want to live to see the baby. Suicide is so cruel anyway, this was just even more insulting.
I am so sorry for your loss. Sorry for those who instantly assumed your brother-in-law was gay.
We don’t know the reasons why and we do not need to know.


— MightyLambchop    Wednesday May 3, 2006    #


I have often considered suicide but have never had the courage. Reading about your pain has given me another reason not to take that decision today. Thank you.


— Wendy    Thursday May 4, 2006    #


I have read some of the comments (i.e., those related to depression/antidepressants and the issue of sexuality). I hope I can lighten the mood a bit with this little story: A friend of mine had, quite remarkably in my opinion, not had any sexual contact with anyone by the time he was 25. At that age he was hospitalized with a mental illness, and was started on antidepressants. A few weeks later he had his first sexual encounter, and it was with another man. He was quite surprised by this and contacted his doctor as he wondered if, and this is what I loved, homosexuality might be one of the possible side-effects of the medication! God love him. :-) The doctor told him that no, it was more likely that the medication was working as it should, and now my friend was starting to feel better and he was now able to start expressing himself, whereas previously he had been paralyzed by depression.


— Robert Riley    Saturday May 6, 2006    #


my heart goes out to your family! i ahve lost a few friends to suicide, and it is a difficult time… the questions are always there!!
my thoughts and prayers are with your family!

p.s robert riley… your comments made me smile in all my sadness!! :)


— christopher    Sunday May 7, 2006    #


What a hard thing to be the survivor of someone taking their life. My dad died of natural causes 2 years ago/ my mother tried to kill herself recently. I found her. She is still alive mad that she is and it has tore me apart. I feel your pain. What we must look at is it is a big beautiful world out there and we do not have to be in pain anylonger if we choose not to be. Right?


— Vivian    Saturday May 20, 2006    #


I didn’t know him, but I miss him too. His beautiful existence in the world.

I lost my son Dallas July 2007 from a heroin overdose at 19. He was a beautiful child. The depression and sadness were so overwhelming.

Beautiful lights have gone out in the world.

This…. is an overwhelming sad thing to own.

Love and peace to you and your loved ones from Seattle…


— Angela Gwynn ~ http://thegrievingroom.blogspot.com    Sunday March 23, 2008    #


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The Saddest Thing I Own is a 2005 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It is supported by the Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial and in recognition of the valuable contributions of artists to society.

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