by Susan Eisenhauser, J.D., Former Executive Director, JLAP
Volume 24, No. 1. Indiana Trial Lawyers Association quarterly journal, The Verdict. Reprinted with permission.
".. the greatest fallacy about suicide lies in the belief there is a single immediate answer - or perhaps combined answers - as to why the deed was done."
- William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
On a Sunday in January, I received a message at my home from a judge. I knew immediately something was wrong. And something was. Terribly wrong. Judge George Heid of Tippecanoe County had been found shot, an apparent suicide. I remember the emotions I heard running through the judge's voice as we spoke - shock, disbelief, sadness, worry - but most of all that incessant question - why?
Later that week I had many different people express many of the same emotions as they tried to come to grips with the terrible reality that a respected member of the legal family - a judge - had chosen to end his own life. Perhaps most poignant was the Tippecanoe County lawyer who agonized over what he failed to see, what he might have done had he looked "just a little closer, paid just a little more attention."
With the deadline for this piece so close, Terry and I started to think about what we might write that could not only make a small contribution to assist those friends and colleagues of Judge Heid who might read it, but that also might - just might - deter the next attorney or judge who needs help but thinks there is no where to turn. Let them know they are not alone. What came to us was to let one of your own colleagues speak to you about his experience with suicide.
Gary Bakke is a Wisconsin attorney who served as President of the State Bar of Wisconsin. I am a member of that Bar and proud to have had a leader such as Mr. Bakke who was willing to share his personal story in hopes of helping his fellows. Mr. Bakke's suicidal thoughts arose out of his depression and we know that depression can be one factor that increases one's risk for suicide. We at JLAP do not know whether Judge Heid suffered from depression, but what we do know is he lost his life. So Mr. Bakke's article is below, reprinted with permission. It speaks quite eloquently for itself. We sincerely hope you will take a few minutes to read it.