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My Daughter Blames Me for Her Suicide in Her Farewell Letter. How Can I Survive?

From Netherlands: Our beloved daughter committed suicide at age 20 on 9 September 2014. She was a brilliant student but had difficulties with her studies and holding friends. She was depressed and liked to be home with us her parents and sister. She was diagnosed with autism or schizoid. She decided not to be treated. She could never express her feelings, she said she could not feel. She took pills and left us on 9 September 2014.

We found an extensive farewell letter in English called ‘Lost cause’ of 16 pages. She describes the trauma coming early but not saying what is was. She said love was supposed to be something special. She was always feeling guilty about her parents potentially breaking up and not understanding why others did not see it her way. She called herself empty and got directions about feelings from her ‘inside thing’ taking over since age 5. She left us also a copy of an article about priming trying to make clear why she was so upset about breaking love and used priming to make a link to her past at age 5 when I had an affair and left home for 2 months and my wife cried a lot. My daughter states in her letter: don’t leave, we can work it out, we don’t need money.

Ever since finding the farewell note O blame myself that she had relationship trauma and became schizoid of this. I am seeing a therapist but I blame myself and cannot find a way to prove that a break up of 2 months could not have caused her death. A copy of her farewell letter can be forwarded.

A. Mental illness can be difficult to treat. In your letter you said that she chose not to take treatment. Without treatment, there is very little chance of improvement. With the course that she chose her suicide is not to be unexpected.

Her suicide is a result of her mental illness and that is clear. What you are questioning is the cause of her mental illness. With schizophrenia and autism there is no evidence to suggest that the actions or inactions of a parent can cause these disorders. This research is objective and if there was a possible link to the actions of a parent as the cause or a potential cause of these disorders, it would have been reported in the literature.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult and in many cases impossible to force someone into therapy or to take medication. There are many family members, who have loved their daughter, brother, mother, sister, father, etc., as much as it is possible to love and still they were unable to get their very loved family member, to accept treatment.

It is safe to say, that leaving your wife and child for two months did not cause your daughter’s schizophrenia or autism. Leaving for two years would not have caused your daughter’s mental illness. Divorcing your wife and never again contacting her or your daughter, would not have caused your daughter’s schizophrenia or autism. It is obvious from your letter that you love your daughter very much. It is also safe to say that from what I’ve read, at least in my opinion, you would have very gladly given up your life for your daughter, and if it would bring her back you probably still would. However, even sacrificing your life for your daughter would have neither prevented or cured her schizophrenia or autism.

If you had never known that you had a daughter, if you had never known that you had impregnated her mother and thus never even known of the existence of your daughter, her schizophrenia or autism would still have occurred. Her death was a result of her mental illness, just as surely as a death caused by cancer.

Use the love that you have for your daughter, take that love and spread it in the world by doing good for others. Honor your daughter by helping others. Spreading flowers on her grave will not help your grief. Spreading love in this world will.

Good luck my friend.

Dr. Kristina Randle

from Ask the Therapist


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