I read a small article yesterday about a man in Los Angeles. He and his wife had both been fired from their jobs at a hospital–supposedly one of the most secure sectors in terms of havinf a job–and rather than look for another job, or go on unemployment, he decided that it would be a better idea to kill his family and then himself.
That’s right, he went home, shot his wife and five children, faxed a local television station a note explaining the reasons for their deaths and that they did not want to leave their children in the care of someone else. The police also received a phone call from who they suspect was the father saying that he had just returned home to find that his family had been murdered.
This appalls me to no end. I do not wish to speak ill of the dead, and it is true that I have never been in such a desperate situation as having to support five children without an income, but I still just cannot understand this. I think this man and his wife, who the fax said had planned the whole thing, were cowards and selfish. I would not say that I have strong feeling about suicide, that is I don’t think you go to hell or anything like that, but I do think it is the coward’s way out. There are exceptions of course, like if you are terminally ill and don’t want to suffer anymore or you have lost everything (like your family and friends) and just cannot see the point of living anymore. Even on that last point, though, I still don’t think suicide is the option. Just like it can always get worse, life can always get better.
But to deny your children their lives because you don’t have the courage to continue trying to make a life for them well that is selfish. I am sorry. I did not know this man, and I do not know the whole situation, I know. And it can be argued that the children would have a hard life wihtout their parents, but so what? Life can be hard sometimes (most of the time it seems lately), but it can also be good and easy and fun and great. I am lucky in the sense that both my parents are still alive so I do not know what it is like to live without my parents, but I still think that it is better to live without them than to have them kill me, even if their reason was because they loved me and did not want to see me suffer.
The whole thing makes me sick because it is sick, but also because it seems more and more, that murder suicide is becoming a viable option for people who have lost their jobs and homes and are facing destitution on the street as a result of the ballooning economic crisis. Sure, there have not been too many of the cases, but I believe that their frequency will only increase. That thought scares and frustrates me because the crisis is going to get worse before it gets better and more families are going to be killed out of love and frustration and cowards.
I am sorry if I sound rough or heartless or soulless (something someone accused me of once in a moment of anger), but I cannot help the way I feel. So I guess I am not really sorry for saying these things. Maybe I could put them in a better way–sound more sympathetic or empathetic–but I cannot bring myself to feel sympathy for this man. Empathy is another matter. I am overly empathetic, and I often think that that is one of my biggest problems. Empathy itself is not a bad thing, but sometimes I cannot control it and it causes me tear up and makes me feel tight in the chest like I’m having a heart attack. Of course I don’t know what a heart attack feels like because I have never had one, but I think you get the idea.
There were reports that the man and his wife were fired from Kaiser Permanente after being investigated for wrongly representing their workplace so they could get childcare. Supposedly the human resources person who fired them told them that “they shouldn’t have bothered to come into work on their final day, and that they should go home and kill themselves.” Of course, Kaiser denies any such words were spoken, but I have my doubts. Human Resource Personnel can be real dicks, and if this particular agent had a problem with the man and his wife, well then it is easy to imagine that they said something like this. I am sure, however, that he/she did not mean it, and was just speaking without thinking. And I do not believe that they would go home and shoot themselves (and their children) simply because some jackass HR man told them to. Still, it is a good example that people need to watch what they say. I know that may sound a little hypocritical considering my earlier tirade in this post, but that does not change the fact that words have power and we need to watch what we say, especially when handing someone such bad news as they lost their job.
As I said this whole thing sickens and frustrates me and I truly hope that others who are contemplating suicide (for whatever reason) seek help rather than acting on those considerations. There is already too much death and suffering in this world to add to it because you are too scared or unsure of life. Suicide is the coward’s way out, with very few exceptions. I honestly believe that.