STEPHEN KING once said: “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”
It was the summer of 2014 when I landed in Las Vegas, my intent was cut and dry; I was here to take my own life at a gun range. Guns were harder to obtain in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and in Vegas all you needed for a loaded pistol was a valid state identification — and on Oct. 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire upon the crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
For reasons that I will replay in my mental DVR for life, I chose not to pull the trigger that day in Las Vegas and instead went to Mexico for Nembutal, a drug used to euthanize animals and the preferred exit method from The Peaceful Exit Handbook; my choice not to end my life at the gun-range or via Pentobarbital will be validated later by professionals who know the art of suicide far too well, sadly.
IN the days following George Floyd’s death, rumors and memes began circulating that four African American men were found hanging from trees in public; the real number was soon revealed as a total of three men found in public from apparent suicide.
The last man found was Hispanic and found in Houston and his family told police he was suicidal.
The first black male found hanging from a tree in California had sent messages to his children just prior to the suicide that he looked forward to time spent together in the future.
Family that knew 38-year old Malcolm Harsch said suicide was never an option and that Malcolm was a ‘survivor.’
But soon after the family spoke out, video emerged that showed Malcom committing the act on surveillance video.
Close friends and family suggest his behavioral health was nothing off from him baseline; he was not unusually upset, not unusually happy nor giddy which is also a common sign of those who have decided on the act of suicide.
“Although there remains no sign of foul play, the forensic pathologist is waiting for toxicology results before assigning the cause and manner of death. After reviewing the site and actual video footage with detectives, it is with a heavy heart that we now know the cause and manner of death,” said a statement issued by Harsch’s family.
“The evidence from the case, including the surveillance video, was shown to the family members per their request,” the FBI said in a statement Friday night.
Just ten days later and just 50 miles apart in proximity in California, Robert Fuller, a black male was found hanging from a tree in a neighborhood that he rarely visited according to sources close to the situation. Just days before, Robert was engaged in Black Lives Matter protests.
The FBI has now launched a formal investigation despite local police originally stating there was no foul play.
The emotional responses to exiting a world of pain or turmoil, makes it extremely difficult for those on the outside to identify what is truly occurring for those that are considering leaving this world. The person making the choice, could appear extremely off their baseline or ecstatic; it could be wildly impulsive or so well planned that the victim actually gives away belongings before their departure.
The racial temperature in the US would certainly make anyone question any anomalies, especially public death by suicide. But statistical data for 2018 shows African American’s commit suicide at a rate higher than Caucasians by as much as 4% and the data also indicates a correlation with poverty levels; meaning populations in the US that are the most undeserved are more likely to take their own lives.
When rumors started and insinuated that as many as four men and one woman were found hanging from trees in public, Your Content spoke exclusively to Susan Constantine, a behavioral health expert and often relied on for her expertise in high profile criminal cases who said it’s uncommon for public suicides.
“It is not a common thing. It is a horrible act and it’s so visible. There is a message behind it. There’s a purpose, though what the purpose is, we don’t know,” Constantine told Your Content.
“But the fact that they were hung in a public place so that everybody could see, they’re sending a very powerful statement and wanting everyone to see it.”
While public suicides remain arcane to most, Constantine goes on to suggest that they become more commonplace due to the coronavirus pandemic alongside the racial distress.
“Well, and the other aspect of it is right now, because we’re in the midst of a pandemic and then now we’ve got all of the racial upheaval right now. People that are not grounded or that are suffering from mental illness or depression, or has suicidal tendencies to begin with, this could be the last blow for them.”
While the FBI continues their investigation into the death of Robert Fuller, we await the results to ensure accountability but also to quell our own fears; a public lynching would make matters worse in this nation while increased suicide rates are hardly any better.
We are living in atypical times, the pandemic has exposed our unpreparedness and the harsh economic reality has already taken its toll; the racial wildfires have only compounded that effect as the world now awaits the second wave of COVID-19.
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