Joe Biden: ‘I Understood How Someone Could Consciously Decide to Commit Suicide’

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US Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a St. Patrick's Day Reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 20, 2012.
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Most Joe Biden stories are funny, which makes this sad one all the more affecting. On Friday, the vice-president attended a Memorial Day seminar sponsored by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit group that works with the families of military members killed in combat. There, he spoke about the deaths of his first wife, Neilia, and his 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, which happened as a result of a 1972 car accident. (Two of his sons were critically injured but survived.)

"For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide ... Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, but because they had been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they'd never get there again."

He did manage to end things on a hopeful note, telling the audience, "There will come a day, I promise you, and your parents, as well, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye."