On Wednesday, the nation got news of a tragedy in my home state of Nebraska. You’ve most likely heard at least a blip about the school shooting that happened in Omaha Wednesday afternoon. While a suicide/homicide incident is certainly not the norm among teens who kill themselves, it’s a powerful example of how teen suicide can have an impact on a community.
I’ve read several comments and discussions about this online the last 48 hours. The reactions are all over the place, ranging from confused to sad to truly angry. All of those reactions are normal for such an emotionally charged event.
Bad enough that the young man took his own life, but he multiplied the problem by killing another. There is a lot of hurt to go around in this situation, and a lot of people looking for explanations.
Suicide Can Be Tough To Explain And Understand
As a mental health professional, I have learned that behavioral symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s rarely as simple as A+B=suicide. Even if it isn’t obvious, people who become suicidal usually have some sort of build up of problems, feelings, and beliefs that makes life seem totally hopeless.
The young man in Omaha had been recently gone through a school transfer, had some amount of trouble at school, and had parents living in two different cities.
How much did all of this influence his decision? How much did he learn to stuff his feelings when he was younger? How much may have been from society’s influence? There is no way to know because he can’t tell us. All we can do is try to put the puzzle together and learn what we can from it.
My heart goes out to all involved, both for the young man’s family and for the principal that was killed.
Suicide is a complicated thing.
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Last reviewed: 8 Jan 2011