We do a lot of probate cases here at the Jacobson Law Firm and most of them have an element of sadness to them - after all, the client has come to us because a loved one passed away. At times, we find that the decedent lived such a magnificent, joy-filled life that it's hard for those left behind to be sad that he or she is gone - the grieving is mixed with joy and gratefulness at the memories that person created. Those are the "fun" probate cases.
I was reminded recently of the other end of the spectrum: a new client came in whose family member, a military veteran, had taken his own life. This was by no means the first suicide probate we've handled. As we're a veteran-owned firm, these cases strike close to home, but any time a person ends the suffering by his or her own hand, there's precious little joy, if any, to be found. There is often shame on the part of the family member who has to disclose this information to us, either because that person feels he or she could have somehow stopped it, or because it's seen as failure or cowardice on the part of the decedent which reflects badly on the family. Neither of these is helpful. Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade were celebrities with, one would assume, everything to live for, yet they chose to take their own lives. We don't know precisely what the trigger was for any of them, but we heard about them because they were famous; "ordinary" people have demons, too.
Fortunately, there are resources available to address risks, prevention, intervention, recovery from attempted suicide and many other aspects of this very complex issue. Two that I've found are the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ ) and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center www.sprc.org/. I'm not advocating these two in particular, but they may be a good place to start if you find yourself dealing with this issue, either personally or with a friend or family member.