Do people commit suicide while lying down?
1. When Henry Jones offered a summary statement for the prosecution, he said, ‘A man doesn’t lie down to shoot himself.’
2. Criminologists I have spoken to have said a similar thing.
3. Yet Carson, Bill’s defence attorney, countered by citing two recent suicide cases in the Miami district (Dade County) in which the gunshot victim had lain down before killing himself. He said that one of these incidents had occurred only the week before Bill’s trial commenced so the state attorney should have known about it. The state attorney did not dispute Carson’s statement in his own closing argument, which followed Carson’s.
4. Clearly, while it wasn’t common for people to lie down to shoot themselves, it sometimes occurred.
5. So what was Haden likely to have been thinking after the light went out on the morning of his death? The state claimed he was on top of the world but the evidence suggests otherwise. He had just had a long heart-to-heart talk with Bill in which he revealed that he had lied about important facts in terms of his age, degree and writing qualifications (see post 7). He must have suspected that Chubbie wouldn’t be impressed when she learnt the truth, that in the morning he could lose his fiancée, his home, his job and his only chance at fame and fortune. His venereal disease was painful, preventing him from sleeping, so it is likely that he lay there stewing over his problems. A gun sat on the table next to his bed, a gun he had played with a short time earlier. The moon shone brightly into the room, allowing him to see quite well once his eyes had adjusted. Did he take the gun from the box while Bill was sleeping deeply then lie down again holding it, playing with it, thinking? Did he recollect past conversations about suicide, about the opportunity the gun provided of making a dramatic escape from an increasingly unendurable situation? Did he hold the gun to his head and fire it?
The circumstances at the time suggest that, if Haden did shoot himself, it was more likely to have been done while he was lying down than pacing the floor with Bill asleep next to him.