I’ll catch up on the challenge post tomorrow. There is something I feel that needs to be said that has a little more priority, simply because of the context.
The town in which I live is relatively small. Tourists come from wherever they come from (hell, I think), and there are about four or five different . . . regions? I don’t know what to call them. I live in an unincorporated area of the town, but I’m still part of the town. That makes sense.
There was one man who parked his truck in the cliffs a while back. I guess the police had been informed he was feeling the need to end his life and before they got to him, he’d shot himself through the temple. I have no clue if the police knew where he was or not. This was maybe five minutes from my house, and probably a few months before or after (I can’t remember) some other guy was running around swimming in the nasty lagoon with a gun trying to hide from the cops. I don’t think he could hold his breath or stand the stench long enough to NOT get caught, because he got caught.
Yesterday there was a shooting at the mall about ten minutes from my house. A woman, her husband, and daughter had been shopping at the mall earlier in the afternoon, and now the woman called the police about her husband making “suicidal threats”–he was still at the mall with their daughter. I don’t know if the woman had left or not, the story is still rocky.
Regardless, the police didn’t make it, and I guess mall security isn’t trained and/or wasn’t notified, because the man shot himself and his daughter in the back of their Kia Soul in the middle of the parking lot. The girl was 8 years old. They both died in the car.
Crime scene investigators survey the Capitola Mall parking lot Sunday, where a man killed himself and his 8-year-old daughter. (Stephen de Ropp — Contributed).
I’m not going to blame anyone here for anything. People can nitpick at the speed of the cops/security, they can nitpick at the man’s wife, and most likely they’ll nitpick at the man too. But the truth is, we’ll never really know why this man shot himself and his daughter or if anything preemptive could have been done.
Instead of blasting suicide hotlines at you, I think this is a perfect opportunity to remind everyone how hidden these feelings can be, and how serious the consequences are when they’re hidden for too long. People can blame it on “mental illness” or whatever you want to call it, but there’s much more too it. People can say he should have been shoved into a hospital, but even statistics knows 50%-70% of people who go in feeling like they should end their life come out feeling they should end their life tenfold. It’s not about being a sick bastard disturbed enough to kill his daughter. It’s about being a person who got fed up with whatever he got fed up with, or was struggling in some other way perhaps no one knew about, so he turned to the only logical thought in his head at that time.
It’s logical because it’s about taking control of things that are out of control, and that’s what he did. That’s a very human response. It’s not the response we generally like to hear about, nor is it the response I wish anyone to have, but it’s a human one alright.
That being said, had the cops arrived, would what they have done prevented anything? How much do they know about wanting to end their own life and what would they have said to him? Would the man have shot his daughter anyway, so they shoot him? What difference would that have made? Where the fuck did the gun come from? I didn’t know people who drove fucking Kia Souls were gun wranglers, I’ll never tailgate another Prius in my life.
There are so many assumptions to be made here, and that’s where the danger and the stigma and the stupidity starts, especially in murder-suicide incidents.
People get scared when the ones around them are spewing things like “suicidal threats” and I think that’s because of the panic and the fear that comes with losing someone they care for and the thoughts of what could happen. That’s also a pretty human response. But I think it’s also helpful to remember in that time that this person is telling you these things for a reason, and it’s not always just to let you know what their plans are.
That’s a lot of pressure–for someone to come to you and say they’re going to kill themselves. Now all of a sudden you feel it’s up to you to stop them. Is it? I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone has any kind of responsibility for anyone else’s life. What I do know is that if you’ve experienced that kind of despair, or even if you have experienced any kind of deep pain at all, for any reason, you know how hard it is to see past it and how lonely it is. Maybe it’s not really about stepping in to save their life and be the hero walking away from the fire.
Maybe it’s not about convincing them to stay alive or being responsible for them, maybe it’s just about using what you know, what you’ve felt, to connect for just a moment. Maybe it’s not your responsibility to make them change their mind, maybe it’s their responsibility to change their mind and maybe you can support them through that change.
I would consider this situation at the mall very high risk and that’s why I say I don’t know if anything would have changed had the police reached that man and I’m not going to sit here and criticize people for things they should have done: that doesn’t bring either person back to life. I don’t know what kind of threats he said to his wife or how long he’s expressed these kinds of things. Maybe he never has. Maybe a slow growing brain tumor finally cut off some blood supply to a specific area of his brain and suddenly he didn’t want to live anymore and no words could have ever made a difference. You don’t know.
You can’t save everyone. That’s not meant to sound morbid, just truthful: some people have made up their minds and you could be the best connector in the world and they’ll still put a barrel to their temple.
But, a good try is better than not trying at all–or, you know, chalking it all up to being “sick”.