The Siècle from March 2nd, 1861 reports the following:
“In a vacant lot on the corner of a road called The Arcade which leads to Conflans and Charenton, yesterday in the morning the body of a man who had committed suicide was found by workers, hanging from a very tall pine tree. Once informed, the Charenton Police Chief went to the scene, followed by Dr. Josias, carrying out the full examination. The Droit says that the man was apparently around fifty years of age, of distinct looks, well dressed. A handwritten note was taken from one of his pockets and it read: ‘It is 11:45pm; I ascend to end my torture. May God forgive my errors.’ In the same pocket a letter was found without signature or addressee, containing the following: ‘Yes, I fought to the limit! Promises, guarantees, I lacked everything. I could get there; I had everything to believe in, everything to expect; lack of words kill me; I cannot go on. I now leave this so painful life. Full of strength and energy I am obliged to resort to suicide. God is my witness that I seriously wanted to pay back all those who helped me in my disgrace. Fatality crushes me. Everything is against me. Suddenly abandoned by those that I represented I now suffer my fate. I die without bitterness, I confess, and however much they say, the slanders will not preclude me from having a few moments of noble sympathy towards myself. Insulting the man that has been reduced to the last of all resolutions is an abuse. It is enough to be reduced to this. I am not all ashamed of myself. Selfishness would have killed me.’ According to other documents, the man was a so called Alfred Leroy, fifty years old, from Vimoutier, Orne. His profession and residence are unknown and after the customary formalities the unclaimed body was sent to the morgue.”
1. Evocation – A. I don’t come as a tortured man. I am saved! Alfred.
OBSERVATION: The words “I am saved” astonished the majority of the audience. The explanation was requested in the sequence of the conversation.
2. We learned from the papers about the desperate act in which you have succumbed to and although we don’t know you, we are very sorry because religion teaches us that we must have pity on all our unfortunate brothers and it is to testify our sympathy that we invoked you. – A. I need to shut out the real motives that led me to that desperate act. I thank you for what you are doing for me. It is a reason for joy, a message of hope. Thank you!
3. Can you first tell us if you are aware of your present situation? – A. Perfectly. I am relatively happy. I did not commit suicide for purely material causes and my last words demonstrate that. I was taken by an iron fist. When I incarnated on Earth I saw that suicide would be in my future. It was a trial that I had to fight. I wanted to be stronger than fatality but I succumbed.
OBSERVATION: It will be seen soon that this spirit does not escape the fate of all suicides, despite what he says. As for the word fatality, it is evident that there is a memory of Earthly things. People consider their destiny as every disgraceful event that cannot be avoided. For him suicide was the test that he had to pass. He yielded to the call instead of resisting, given his free-will, and he assumed that it was in his destiny.
4. You wanted to escape an unpleasant situation through suicide. Have you gained anything from that? – A. Here is my punishment: confusion of my pride, awareness of my weakness.
5. According to a letter that was found with you, it seems that people’s cruelty and lack of word have led you to your self-destruction. What is your feeling now towards those who were the cause of you fatal resolution? – A. Oh! Don’t you tempt me, don’t tempt me, I beg you.
OBSERVATION: This is a remarkable answer. It paints the situation of the spirit fighting the desire of hatred towards those who did him harm, and the feeling of good, pushing him to forgiveness. He is afraid that this question may provoke an answer that might be reproached by his conscience.
6. Do you regret your action? – A. I told you: my pride and my weakness are the cause.
7. When alive did you believe in God and in a future life? – A. My final words demonstrate that: I walk to my punishment.
OBSERVATION: He begins to understand his situation, about which he could have had an illusion in the beginning, because he could not be simultaneously saved and walked to his punishment.
8. When you took that resolution, what was in your mind? – A. I was very much aware of the justice to understand what makes me suffer now. For a short time I entertained the idea of the void but I soon rejected that. If I had such an idea I would not have killed myself. I would have sought revenge.
OBSERVATION: This answer is at the same time very logical and very profound. If he believed in the nothingness after death instead of killing himself he would have revenged or at least he would have started from vengeance. The idea of the future precluded him from committing a double crime. With the idea of the nothingness what was there to be afraid of if he wanted to take his own life? He would no longer fear people’s justice and would enjoy the pleasure of vengeance. Such is the consequence of the materialistic doctrines that certain wise people try to propagate.
9. If you were convinced that the cruelest vicissitudes of life are trials of too short a duration before eternity would you still have succumbed? – A. Very short, I know that, but despair does not give space to reason.
10. We beg God for His forgiveness in your favor and send Him our prayers, all of us united: “Almighty God, we know the fate of those who shorten their days and we cannot obstruct your justice. But we also know that your mercy is infinite. May that mercy be extended upon the soul of Alfred Leroy! May also our prayers show him that there are people on Earth who care about him, thus mitigating his sufferings for not having had the courage to endure the hardships of life! Good spirits, whose mission is to alleviate the unfortunate ones, take him under your protection; inspire regret in him for his actions and the firm desire of progress through new trials that he will withstand better. – A. Your prayers make me cry hence I feel happier.
11. In the beginning you said: I am saved. How can we reconcile those words with what you said later: I walk towards my punishment? – A. And how do you see God’s benevolence? I could not live. It was impossible. Wouldn’t you believe that God sees that impossibility in such a case?
OBSERVATION: Amidst some notably sensible answers there are others, and this last one is in that group, through which the spirit shows an imperfect idea of his current situation. There is no surprise here if we consider the fact that he has been dead for a few days only.
12. (To St. Louis) – Could you tell us what is the fate of the unfortunate spirit that we have just evoked? – A. Expiation and suffering. No, there is no contradiction between the first words of that unfortunate spirit and his pains. He says he is happy. He is happy for the termination of life. Since he is still attached to the Earthly bonds the only thing he feels is the absence of the bad things from Earth, but when his spirit is totally separated from the horizons of pain, a slow and terrible expiation will unfold before him, and the awareness of infinity, still hidden to his eyes, shall be the punishment that he had foreseen.
13. Which difference can you establish between this suicide case and the other one of the Samaritan? Both killed themselves out of despair, however their situation is very different: this one is perfectly conscious of himself; speaks clearly and does not suffer yet while the other one did not see himself dead and from the very initial moments he suffered a cruel pain, feeling the decomposition of his own body. – A. Huge difference. The suffering of each of those men reflects the individual character of their moral progress. The latter, a weak and broken soul, held up as much as he believed. He doubted his own strength and God’s benevolence, but he cannot be charged with blasphemy or slander; his inner, slow and profound suffering shall have the same intensity as the pain of the former suicide. It is just that the law of expiation is not uniform. NOTE: The story of the Samaritan suicide can be found in the issue of The Spiritist Review, June 1858.
14. To the eyes of God who is most to blame and who will suffer the greatest punishment: the one who succumbed to his own weakness or the other who was led to despair for the stiffness of his heart? – A. Surely the one who succumbed to the temptation.
15. Can the prayers on their behalf be useful to them? – A. Yes. Prayer is like a beneficial mist.