Who ya gonna call?

June 7, 2009

I came across this article in Yahoo’s “News of the Weird”.  In my opinion, that is not the place for it, but I guess Yahoo doesn’t have a section for News that will make you question humanity.  To sum up a very good, but very long article out of the Denver news, John Francis Beech, a retired executive was planning to take his own life.  Before he did so, he cut a $100,000 check postdated to August 1, to Laradon Hall, a facility that aided the developmentally disabled and hand delivered it (on July 17th), along with his last will and testament, in an envelope marked “Wait until you hear from the coroner” and “Please don’t call, everything is ok.”

Failing to heed a portion of his instructions, an employee of Laradon Hall opened the envelope to find the check and will, but decided to put the contents in a safe until after the 1st of August.  A couple calls were made to Mr. Beech, but no calls for a welfare check on Mr. Beech or calls to the police to check things out. On July 29th, Mr. Beech went through with his plans to commit suicide and his body was found by the police on August 1st.

Judging from the comments on the Westword website, I am not the only one that is horrified that no one from Laradon Hall attempted to contact the police.  Not only did they not contact the police, but it seems they still do not admit that their actions, given the circumstances, were questionable at best.

I do not pretend to know what mental anguish the employees of Laradon Hall are going through at this time, but I would imagine that it is considerable.  Perhaps it is from my own personal experience with a suicide attempt, but I cannot understand their actions in the least.  Several years ago I inadvertently came across a good friend of mine that had apparently had a gun in his mouth not long before I showed up.  Upon my unexpected arrival, he was in an extremely volatile mental state, and I did not know where to turn.  After staying with him for what seemed like hours, I had to leave him alone.  But after taking that step, I made a trip to the local police station and asked them to check on my friend.  I’m not sure that that extra stop had any impact on his ultimate survival (though he is still alive to this day), but I couldn’t have lived with myself had I not sent the police to check on him.

Obviously my experience is quite a bit different.  This was a good friend of mine, where Laradon Hall had no previous interaction with Mr. Beech.   And there was certainly not $100,000 on the line in my case.  However, I can’t imagine ignoring that kind of cry for help.  Mr. Beech might have said that everything was okay, but it obviously was not.  I sincerely hope that the actions of not only a single employee, but also of the board of directors of Laradon Hall are not what we would expect to see from a majority of people.

Today, rather than talking about the life of Mr. Beech and his generous gesture of good will to an organization with which he had no known prior relationship, we are discussing the actions of that organization and the pain Mr. Beech’s family must be experiencing.  Today, the family is battling Laradon Hall in court over their rights to the money and the remainder of the will considering the circumstances, rather than remembering their loved one for his last act of kindness.  Today, I am sad that I have to pull my glove out of my pocket to slap Laradon Hall.