Harassment Diary

by Paulette Cooper, 1982

My 1997 editorial comments are enclosed in [[double square brackets]]. Some paragraphing added currently.

Part 12: Suicidal

I had become increasingly suicidal as time went on. I was in a rage over the sense of injustice over what was happen [[being accused of a crime I didn't commit and having to stand trial for it]] and things just kept getting worse and worse.

There seemed to be nothing left except the agony of a public trial to prove my innocence, with high publicity, and great embarrassment to me and my parents. Even if cleared, I knew my life and career were ruined. And the alternatives were even worse.

The night of my 30th birthday, [[...]] I was at my lowest, most suicidal point. A number of other serious things had also gone wrong that day. (1) I decided not to wait until the trial [[I had been thinking of killing myself the night before]], but to save myself and my parents any further agony.

I got riproaring drunk and started to write a suicide letter to my parents, trying to explain to them that I simply could not take the psychological pain any more. Fortunately, an old and close friend, Lucy, called me to wish me a happy birthday while I was writing the letter. And although I didn't tell her I was planning suicide, she recognized that I was in a very bad state. She kept me on the phone for hours, and finally calmed me down. I passed out from exhaustion, alcohol, and valium.

I was aware that I was having a nervous breakdown. But I was afraid to go to a psychiatrist because I knew that it could be brought out at trial. (The government's contention was the people who send bomb threats are insane might be reinforced by seeing a psychiatrist.)

I also would have benefited greatly if I could have gotten away, but I couldn't. I had no money left, didn't think it fair to ask my parents for more money in view of what they were spending in legal fees, [[*]] couldn't ask for a free trip and write about it (as I had been doing in the early '70's and am starting to do again) because writing had become too difficult. [[I couldn't concentrate to write all that year.]]

But mainly, I was on some kind of parole or probation before trial and was not allowed to leave the state without the court's permission. The notion of having to ask the government to even go to New Jersey was so humiliating that I meekly stayed home.


(1) First of all, Bob [[my boyfriend]] was supposed to see me on my birthday, but had backed off. I knew he didn't want to be with me in my state, and I was too far gone to be able to pretend to be happy, which is what he always wanted me to do.

Secondly, my fourth book, "The Medical Detectives" which was later to get rave reviews and win a special award, [[it received a Special Award from the Mystery Writers of America which offers the Edgar Allen Poe award for the best fact crime book]] had the first review come out that day -- the only one of two bad reviews out of hundreds. I thought that augured poorly.

I also turned 30 and was single which before women's lib [[...]] ** augured poorly.

[[1997 Footnotes:]]

[[*]] I believe the legal fees were ultimately $19,000 just to the main lawyers -- which would be like aound $40,000 today -- and that the total for all lawyers, tests, etc., was $28,000 -- in 1973 dollars.

And then my main lawyers sued my father and me to try to get more money out of us! Bastards. (Indeed, one of my two main lawyers, Charles, went on to defend Reverend Moon several years later.)]]

[[** A few of you may have figured out by now that I have consistently excised any year in the diary that has my age on the same line. Sure, anyone can figure out my age from this diary -- although those who've seen me assure me that I don't look it at all <g> -- but since this diary is being archived, and I am conducting writing business on the net with editors etc., who look me up, I would rather not have my age be the first thing that they see.]]

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