I'm hoping that writing this will do me some good and not just open a Pandora's box of downward-spiraling depression.

I found out two days ago that my cousin committed suicide. He was 29. I hadn't spoken to him in years; he'd gotten involved in violence and possibly drugs, and I didn't want to be involved, even halfway across the country.

But we used to be close. He didn't have any sisters, and I didn't have any brothers, so he called me "Sissy," short for sister. When we were young, everyone called him "Lucky." But he wasn't lucky. He got dealt a really shitty deck of cards. His dad was an alcoholic who beat him. I don't think his mom ever finished high school. She meant well, mostly, but he was spoiled by her. He never learned to rely on himself, because she always bailed him out. They were poor, what some would call "white trash." He had ADHD and Crohn's disease, so he didn't do well in school, and he was sick a lot. Bipolar and migraine run in the family, and it's not clear whether he had either. They lived miles away from anything decent or interesting and all he longed for was to get out. He was friends with a black girl in a very racist town. He dreamed of going to LA to be an actor. Once he sent me a drawing of robots with a few lines of dialog.

He was the youngest in the family. His oldest brother joined the Marines and was on his 3rd wife before he returned to civilian life. The middle brother got a girl pregnant at 16, married her, and became addicted to heroin. As far as I know, he's still a junkie.

He was told repeatedly, mostly by my grandparents, that he wouldn't amount to anything. Unfortunately, I was held up as the shining example in the family, because I'd finished high school and didn't get into trouble. But I'd had a solidly middle-class upbringing and supportive parents. Still, he never seemed jealous of me. He idolized me, and thought I had all the answers when in fact I was just a fucking confused teenager.

His mother died suddenly one day of a brain aneurysm when I was in college. Lucky was devastated and attempted suicide then. He was briefly committed to a mental hospital, but since he was an adult, he could sign himself out after 72 hours. Within a year, his father died of a heart attack. The oldest brother tried to hold things together, but he was living in another state. The middle brother sold everything in the house that was worth anything in order to be able to buy drugs. I don't know what Lucky did during this time.

He called me from San Antonio once, or maybe Denver, asking for money. Because I suspected drugs, I didn't pick up the phone. Later, he called me to say he was getting married, but that was years ago, so I don't know if he ever did. Records show that he'd only been married a month when he shot himself. My mother heard his wife had just left him. So he barricaded himself in his house with a gun, and shot himself when the police entered.

I really don't feel any better now. I am angry. Everyone failed this kid, including me.

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