Saturday, October 1, 2022
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Sister of the Man Who Died of Suicide has a Message for Fort Bragg: ‘You Did All You Could to Prevent This Tragedy’—Letter to the Editor

Welcome to our letters to the editor/opinion section. To submit yours for consideration, please send to matthewplafever@gmail.com. Please consider including an image to be used–either a photograph of you or something applicable to the letter. However, an image is not necessary for publication. 

Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of MendoFever nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.


A peaceful day at Fort Bragg’s Pudding Creek Beach [

Dear Editor, 

On behalf of our family, we write to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude for those involved in responding to our brother’s suicide from the Noyo Bridge on June 7, 2022. We are still in the process of reconciling ourselves to the fact that he is gone, and the traumatic circumstances in which his death occurred. It is not lost on us that we are not the only ones that feel the trauma, and hope that this letter may provide some comfort to the responders who may also be suffering.

Our brother lived with schizophrenia. With the help of medication, his symptoms were controlled, such that he was able to work and live similar to the rest of us- he was smart, college-educated, and had enjoyed hobbies such as surfing, skiing, and flyfishing.  Even though he did not have much money, he gave regularly to environmental and social service causes. He was sensitive, compassionate, loyal, kind, gentle, and always willing to lend a hand to anyone who asked. 

While staying in Fort Bragg temporarily to help out our father, we communicated with him regularly, multiple times per week. We last talked to him 48 hours before his death, and there was nothing to indicate that anything was amiss, or that he was in crisis.  And yet, we will continue to ask ourselves that “terrible disabling question,” as Rabbi Holub put it, “could any of us have done something to prevent his death?”  She reminds us that all any of us can do is what we would do for any person with a serious illness- treat the person like the whole person that they are, show up, care, and realize that there is nothing you can do to alter the ultimate trajectory.  

We know that our brother would not have wanted to cause any harm to anyone, and he would regret knowing that the people who responded will have to carry the experience of that day. This knowledge has allowed us to begin to let go of some of the trauma- even if just a little bit- knowing that it does not serve the memory of him and his true self. We share this in the hope that it can facilitate the healing process for those who need it. 

We are grateful for the Fort Bragg Police Captain who spoke with my brother for 29 minutes before his death; we are grateful for the Redwood Community Services Crisis Worker who was not required to show up but did; we are grateful for the unknown staff from Adventist Hospital, California State Parks, Fort Bragg Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard. Please know that we know that you did all you could to prevent this tragedy. You are all in our hearts and your efforts will not be forgotten.  

We are also grateful for the Mendocino Coast Jewish Community and Rabbi Margaret Holub, who generously receives us in our time of grief, three years ago with the passing of our mother, and now with our brother’s death. 

We would be remiss if we did not also thank the warm professionalism of David Yeomans and Kris Strickland from Rose Memorial Park and Seth from Chapel of the Sea. Thanks also to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office whose immediate response to our questions helped ease our pain in the aftermath. 

We’d like to end this letter with a big thank you to all of you in Fort Bragg – those we know and those we don’t – and remind you of the beauty and warmth in this community. While in Fort Bragg making arrangements and caring for my dad, my sister and I were continually surprised by the support and ease of doing business in town, making it easier to address the practical matters of attending to our brother’s death. In every community encounter during out recent stay here we were greeted with warmth and kindness – the postal clerk, the fedex proprietor, Safeway checkers, the Adventist Health physician, Andersson Home Health and others, including a bittersweet encounter with someone at the car wash of all places. In return for his generosity, he asked only that we appreciate the goodness in this small town community. And this letter in part is to communicate that appreciation. It is so humbling to be embraced by a community that we have not been part of for over 30 years, and we are uplifted by it. Thank you.  

Melinda Posner and Sonia Wolfman 

Olympia, WA

8 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your beautiful letter of compassion and kindness. I pray your words will bring peace and healing to all those involved in this tragic event. And I pray you are comforted with your sweet memories and love for your brother.

  2. What a gracious response you took time to pen in such a difficult life moment. May you find peace in the good memories of your brother.

  3. A well thought out and reasoned letter written during a time of stress and grief.Touching to read. Sorry for your loss.

    Extra thanks for the kind words to responding agencies and involved responders.

  4. What a lovely, kind, letter. It’s incredibly generous to think of other’s at this time. My condolences to your family.

  5. Thank you so much for your letter. It means so much to me. My son of almost 40, has the same illness.. Some days my son is as bright as the morning 🌅, other days he just cry’s.
    Again thank you..

  6. A few years ago I was sitting on the rocks under the bridge at Noyo Harbor and we realized someone had jumped off the bridge. I did not see them jump but the sight of them laying there under the bridge was so painful. I wondered what I could have done if I was there on the bridge. Every time I go under the bridge I still think of them and it will never go away and I do not want it too. As a local who has many friends who work at Adventist Health I know they are asking those questions too. Our job is to love everyone we meet, to have compassion for those who hurt inside. I know that God who’s name we can not even speak sees all and knows all. He understands how all that pain is not a choice but a disease. Your brother did not choose to jump as he did in a rational mind but died from a disease. Enjoy the thoughts of the best of him as that was who he longed to be at all times. A world of sin robs us all of the best we can be but all is not lost as we can all remember the best of each other and cherish the memories. Prayers and compassion as you walk this difficult road.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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