Survivors' suicides


Dec 12, 1999
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Along the lines of this "public figure" theme in the suicides and PTSD, it looks like Dr. Washington Dodge was setting himself up, bigtime, for the Titanic disaster. In 1904, he was called before a grand jury to answer charges that he gave an unusually favorable assessment to former mayor James Phelan, for Phelan's property on Market Street. Dodge denied it, and the jury believed him. But according to the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Assessor Dodge stated, after leaving the Grand Jury room, that he felt an unwarranted stigma had been placed upon him through the mere fact that he had been subpoenaed beore the Grand Jury."

Obviously, just the appearance of something as minor as testifying before the Grand Jury creates a stigma, in his eyes. What an incredible stigma his surviving the Titanic disaster must have created!!
 
Apr 22, 2012
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I understand that there has been some speculation that perhaps...just perhaps...Jack Thayer might have been murdered. This rumor comes from the location his body was found in: sitting in his car in broad view, near a bustling trolley line. And yet, he went unoticed for two full days. I personally lean toward him having murdered rather than the suicide, but it's hard to make any real decision. While the given reason for suicide was his son's death in war, that happened two years before the suicide. However, depressions can last for years. Any thoughts?
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Here's an ABC News chat with an expert on PTSD. He says that there is a direct connection between PTSD and suicide.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Here's an excerpt from an article published by the Emergency Response and Research Network, in Chicago, about the aftermath of the sinking of the Estonia, in the Baltic sea.

Survivors of mass disasters are frequently known to suffer from effects similar to those experienced by soldiers in combat, resulting in what is commonly called a "Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome". Some will undoubtedly require counseling and emotional support following their ordeal in the Baltic's icy waters. Others will even feel guilty that they couldn't help the dead, or do anything meaningful to affect the outcome of the calamity. All in all; everyone connected with the tragedy at sea will suffer some detrimental effect caused by the sinking of the Estonia.
 
Jan 30, 2005
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The information about Samuel Rule is interesting, since...Wasn't he the steward who revealed at the British Inquiry that he was having trouble sleeping as a result of his experiences and had seen a doctor? Well, here are some other people...I developed a Boat 16 fixation after reading a certain disturbing article (heh) that made me want to know exactly how "traumatized" and ominously silent its passengers were. The fascination lingered even after I realized how dubious the article was, and it's true that there were some unfortunate people in that boat.
From The Irish Aboard Titanic:
*Honor "Nora" Healy died in a mental hospital in 1919. It seems she went completely insane after the disaster, although there's a hint that she may have been a little unbalanced to begin with.
*Kate Gilnagh once became very frightened on an airplane when she heard that the captain's name was Smith.
From ET:
*Bernard McCoy developed a stutter after Titanic.
*Alice McCoy died in a mental hospital in 1959, four months after her daughter committed suicide.
* I ran into this about Ellen Wilkes: "She became a recluse in later years and was discovered by neighbours living in squalor and without heat or running water in the middle of wintertime. Although her home had furniture, she had been sleeping sitting upright in a chair in her living room. Unopened mail (some years old) was in stacks surrounding her. She was suffering severely from frostbite and partial amputation of her feet was performed prior to her death at the age of 90 on 27 April 1955." Since she was so old, though, perhaps she was just suffering from dementia. My great-grandmother does some pretty odd things without having had anything to do with the Titanic.
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From Total Titanic:
*Marie Jerwan supposedly "suffered from nightmares and panic attacks," but that's according to Marc Shapiro...so I can't vouch for the accuracy.

-Kate
 

SUPERIOR08

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Mar 26, 2012
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MILW WI/U.P. MICHIGAN
hi joe, i've been struck by this too. Two more passengers that committed suidide according to their information on this site are dr. Henry frauenthal and a third class male passenger who was living in detroit (sorry i can't remember his name) who killed himself in 1951 after his wife divorced him. I've also read elsewhere that madeline astor took her own life and i've read on here that she didn't.

The Detroit gentleman was John Morgan Davies--he was 8yrs old when traveling in 2nd class on Titanic---and that is correct, he was in the process of a divorce when he took his own life.
 
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If there was one man who fits the bill as far as post trauma is concerned, it's Robert Hichens the helmsman. He saw and heard more than so many that night in the wheelhouse as well as his experience in Lifeboat 6. Robert suffered with neurasthenia, a nervous condition. In 1912 there were three conditions associated with trauma - neurasthenia, battle fatigue and shell shock. Psychiatry was still in its infancy at this time. Neurasthenia was an umbrella for many nervous conditions. He could have been suffering with this before as it is associated with the pressure of people who came from the country and fishing towns not getting used to the huge change of culture in the city. For Robert, being at the wheel and having the stigma attached to that where other crewmen considered him jinxed, the loss of his income when Southampton was suffering grinding poverty, the guilt for knowing that fellow crewman (some who would be friends from Southampton) were dying in the water, the sound of the poor souls over the water he could hear in the lifeboat and the interviews given by the likes of Molly Brown saying he was a coward apart from him being brought back from the Lapland and having to testify all would have added to his trauma.

I read that post traumatic stress syndrome and the effects of it can lay dormant for decades. When Robert was spurned by another man who threatened him and made his life a misery the trigger was there. Post traumatic stress syndrome can lead its victim into alcohol and violent behaviour. Robert tried to kill Harry Henley and was drinking heavily. He tried to blow his brains out and cut his wrists and went to prison for his crime. The Lookout Reginald Lee was disgraced from the Royal Navy for being a hopeless alcoholic. One year after Titanic he was found dead in a seamen's mission of heart failure. Frederick Fleet believed he had returned to drink, the same Frederick Fleet who hanged himself many years later. Both the lookouts and the helmsman had tragic stories.

His story is told in all its grim detail in The Man Who Sank Titanic. The Troubled Life of Quartermaster Robert Hichens available on Amazon and published by The History Press.
 
Jul 7, 2012
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The survivers were forever haunted by that night, what they had endured, seen and heard. They could not get the sound of the the ship going down and the roars of the crowd dying out of their minds. Further, many felt guilt that they had survived, especially given the fact that the boats could have taken more people in. Read this book: "Shadow of the Titanic" The extraordinary stories of those who survived" by Andrew Wilson.
 

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