What is going on? Why are these homicides and suicides pervading our lives? Why would someone who has a family and fame do such a thing? Why would someone who has it all do this? Because we know a number of things – and many things we don’t know.
My daughter was writing her final essay for an English class that analyses the “American Dream.” What we have learned from some great literature like the Great Gatsby and many more old and new titles is that for starters the whole “American Dream” is washed up. Whether it’s the politics of hate, the lack of tolerance or the institutional racism and sexism, there is some kind of stigma to being different and we can’t seem to shake it. Although the TONY awards celebrated diversity last night it doesn’t seem to be enough until people everywhere learn to embrace peace.
We can try to pontificate about the reasons.
Depression is a reason, yes. But it’s not only that. As Andrew Solomon writes in his extensive and brilliant tomb about it, depression by definition makes you think and feel you have no options. So telling a depressed person to “snap out of it” is simply not going to work. He says, “You don’t think in depression that you’ve put on a gray veil and are seeing the world through the haze of a bad mood. You think that the veil has been taken away, the veil of happiness, and that now you’re seeing truly.”
Guns are a reason, yes. But it’s not only that. Make the manufacturers liable for murder, maybe that will get someone’s attention.
Alienation is a reason, yes. But it’s not only that. There are so many ways a successful person can get involved in helping others.
Money might be the reason but Bourdain and Spade surely had enough of that. So what in the heck is going on.
- According to NPR – “When a new disease, particularly an infectious disease, enters the community … we have a mechanism to anticipate it, track it, get our arms around it,” he says. “We do that when he have measles, mumps, chicken pox, zika. But firearm-related death and disability, we don’t.”
For our teens we should be very worried. It’s not the Internet. The internet exposes us to violence but like a knife it cuts both ways; it can also expose us to travel, beauty and wonder. Teens need to be identified and helped early. Yet parents are still afraid of stigma after all these years. Even Princess Leah came out of her space ship! So yes, let’s help one another. Let’s give therapists the resources they need. Let’s give schools better tools of primary prevention and intervention. Let’s raise awareness, protest and vote.
But in the end, suicide is a complex and incomprehensible act. We do not want to escalate this to an endemic or a copycat phenomenon. Like school shootings, these things are relatively simple to mitigate. Just like we eradicated (mostly) measles through tried and true public health initiatives, why not do the same for suicide and homicide. There are steps we can take RIGHT NOW.