One family shares the painful story of their son's descent into depression and death by suicide

Reporters rarely write obituaries for non-famous people who die by suicide. It's usually too difficult to get the person's relatives to speculate on why their loved one would end his or her own life and the warning signals they may or may not have noticed.

But the family of Brian Arredondo, who died at his own hand at age 24, opened up to Boston Globe reporter Bryan Marquard, apparently in the hopes of preventing others from dying by suicide.

Brian Arredondo (Boston Globe)

Marquard’s poignant article starts in 2004 with Brian at age 17. Two Marines arrive at the Maine home of his mother, Victoria Foley, to deliver the news that her oldest son Alex, a Marine lance corporal, had been killed in Iraq.

A short time later, Brian and Alex's father Carlos in Florida "took gasoline, a propane tank, and a lighting device into a Marine Corps van outside his house."

"The van began to burn, and though Carlos said later it was an accident, not a suicide attempt, the flames seared about a quarter of his body."

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Brian's mother, father, and stepmother would subsequently seek treatment for depression. They urged their son to do likewise, but he refused. He had episodes with substance abuse, was in trouble with the law, and had other problems.

"I didn't give up, you know? I knew he was depressed, I knew he was having a hard time coping, but I couldn't reach him," his mother said. "And maybe it's harder for boys. We've got to let these boys know that it's OK to be emotional and to share it."

Marquard urged his Facebook friends to read Brian's story. "Read it because Brian Arredondo should have had more of an emotional chance than he did," Marquard wrote. "Read it because on any given day of despair, he is us and we are him."

Share your condolences with Brian's family 

This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.