In his words

To my family:

I don’t understand how a loving God would allow my head to be filled with such terrible thoughts all the time.

Ever since coming out of the hospital the world has seemed like cardboard, as if all the faces and everything I see aren’t “right,” that death is around me much of the time.

What is God trying to prove? It’s horrible and I didn’t want to fully admit how bad it is. I didn’t want to end up in the hospital as a psychotic. I’ve had a couple of good days here and there.

The medication seemed to help for a little while, but nothing is taking away this feeling that the world is a freaky place where I don’t belong. The job interviews and phone calls and everyday conversations I have feel forced, unnatural, creepy. I’m not blaming the medical community. They did the best they could, but the doctors really don’t understand what it’s like to live this way 24 hours a day. This brain disease is hideous for those of us seriously affected. The genetic factor is huge. We understand so little about it.

Please forgive me. I can’t go on like this. It’s too horrible. I’m sorry I plan to use alcohol at the very end. I don’t want to go to the hospital again.

I’m sure I would feel the same if I had a great job and a great marriage. This is a chemical disorder that has been worsening over the years. I believe God has a reason for this, mysterious as it is, and that He has a place for me that is peaceful. I love you all very much.

Love, Michael

4:15 p.m. 3/21/97


EDITOR’S NOTE: The above is the verbatim message left by Michael Kluesner, who took his life at age 38, just eight days and 12 years after his sister Amy ended her life in March 1985. Michael bought a used rifle and two bullets – one to to test the gun and the other to take his life.

He then drove his van to a park by a lake and shot himself at about 3 p.m. on March 22, 1997.

Michael had struggled with alcohol and drugs since high school, recalls his father Al Kluesner, who, together with wife Mary and two other couples, co-founded Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, or SAVE, the Minneapolis-based prevention organization.

“Michael’s depression was ‘early onset’ but he was not medically treated until he was 30 years old. Depression robbed Michael of personal relationships, good jobs, good humor, grace and social ease. When his depression eased up he was charming, caring, social and lovable…Michael had been treated for depression for over 10 years and was later diagnosed as bipolar,” notes Al.

“In January 1997 Mary (Michael’s mom) knew that Michael’s depression was deepening despite the treatment. She knew that we were losing Michael. Five weeks before his death she said to me that she didn’t think Michael would make it. I didn’t agree because he had the best team of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health counselors in Minneapolis…Mary was with Michael at the last session with his doctors,” adds Al. “He cried openly at that time pointing out that ‘the pain is too great.’ When asked why he didn’t suicide, he said, ‘I can’t do it because of my family.’…And we still lost him.”

Read the entire text of Al Kluesner’s survivor story about the loss of two of his children to suicide.

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