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Thinking Out Loud: Are We Witnessing The Decadence in U.S. Society That Makes Disintegration Inevitable?

November 23, 2015 by Herbert Daughtry

Suicide and Vehicular Violence

Part Thirty-Five
Oh! That the Almighty had not fixed His canongainst self-slaughter.
Among the violence and killings/murders is self-slaughter or suicide. In the same newspaper – the New York Daily News – from which we have been quoting the various kinds violence and murder, there was an instance of suicide. (See my article published in the Daily Challenge on Friday, October 23, 2015.)There was the headline, “Handcuffed Body with Head in Bag.” The article read, “‘A 50-year-old  man was found dead in a Staten Island parking lot on Monday handcuffed to a vehicle’s steering wheel with a white plastic bag covering his head,’ police said. It is believed the man committed suicide.” A friend told the police that the man was sick and had emotional issues.

*Suicide is more pervasive than most people think. Here are some statistics:
-In 2013, there were 41,149 deaths by suicide in the United States.
-Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death; homicide ranks 16th.
-It is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds.  
– There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes.
-Suicide among males is 4x’s higher than among females.
-Male deaths represent 79% of all US suicides.
-The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
-There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds.

Only God knows how many of us have contemplated suicide. There is the classic soliloquy in Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet”: “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/ Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; /No more; and by a sleep to say we end/ The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation /Devoutly to be wish’d.”

After further consideration of the matter, Hamlet came to the conclusion that it was better to bear the ills that we knew of then to fly off to others that we did not know of: “The undiscover’d country from whose bourn no traveller return.” (I would like to correct Shakespeare. There was one who returned – Jesus Christ.)

There may be other ways in which individuals commit suicide. I remember reading a book many, many years ago by the eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, “Man Against Himself.” In the book, he mentioned the different ways in which people kill themselves or commit suicide, deliberately and sometimes unconsciously. While we know when suicide is committed, we do not always know why. Is it an act of revenge, frustration, or just a desire to end it all?
Dr. Menninger argued in his book that there are times when people are unconsciously trying to kill themselves. Even an accident may be an unconscious attempt at self-slaughter. Someone has said, “All accidents are not really accidents.”
One of the saddest funerals I’ve ever conducted was of a 13-year-old girl who killed herself. While it’s not a part of this subject, nevertheless, it is germane to the overall series on violence about which I have been writing. I also conducted the funeral of two young teenagers who were killed my members of the community. Their aunt had three sons who were killed by violence.
Thus, we have youths who killed themselves,  and youths who have been killed by other youths in the community. There are still other youths have been killed by the police. (On Saturday, November 14, 2015, it will be Clifford Glover’s birthday. He was only ten years old when he was shot in the back by a police officer in 1972. We will remember Clifford at The House of the Lord Church , located at 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Please plan to attend. More information is forthcoming.)
A few years ago, I funeralized another young man who was eighteen years old. He was also killed by members of our community. His mother was so distraught that she contemplated suicide. She said she might have failed, making matters worse.  
Suicide is equal to or surpasses anything that causes us to  raise questions regarding the kind of society that we have structured – that many people have come to feel that life in the U.S.A. isn’t worth living anymore –  who feel as Job felt: “Would to God that I never saw the light of day, that I was never born!”
Now, I want to address another form of violence – vehicular violence. I have already stated that accidents can be unconscious attempts at suicide. What we have come to call road rage may not always derive from anger or frustration at another driver, but could be an act of unconscious suicide.
**Approximately 6.8 million crashes occur each year as a result of aggressive driving. Between 1990 and 1996, road rage was considered the blame of over 218 deaths and 12,610 injuries. Victims of road rage were made subject to the following behaviors of high risk drivers” engage in hostile and aggressive thinking; take more risks on the road; get angry faster and behave more aggressively; have more accidents; and, experience more traits of anger, anxiety, and impulsiveness. Signs of aggressive driving include following too closely; driving at excessive speeds; waving through traffic; and, running stop lights and signs.
There is another consideration regarding accidents. There may be an act of judgment on oneself for wrongdoing, or violation of sacred codes or laws – however the persons defines wrong. I think it was John Dewey, the prominent American educator, who said, “The guilty soul has a right to its judge.” It is believed that self-punishment is an attempt to avert a greater punishment.
** Source: floridamedicalmalpracticelaws.com/12-road-rage-death-statistics
… to be continued.
(Originally published in the Daily Challenge on October 28, 2015.)