It seems to be a common trend with people between the ages of 13-24 especially, when someone within this age group [[ESPECIALLY a teenager]] dies unexpectedly and suddenly. This seems to apply more to unexpected and "cold blooded murder" (which I will call it now for the purposes of this discussion only), and not so much "suicide". I will define "cold blooded murder" in this discussion by saying a car accident [[not something that be prevented, or only can be in hindsight]] or an actual murder of someone by a killer who did not previously have a relationship of any kind with the victim. Why, as a young generation, do we sanctify the dead that we do not know? Why do we make assumptions that these people were completely innocent, pure, and worthy of adoration, and that their sudden death rectified any wrongs that they have made? What makes us think that these people attain a sort of posthumous sainthood just because of the way that they died? There are many psychological reasons to explain this.
*+* Before I go into detail any further, let me compare for you an instance for which I experienced and some of you reading this may have experienced as well. To avoid any controversy and disrespect for the souls who have departed, I will refer to the one who was "murdered" by a car accident as "Victim M" (M for Murder). I will refer to the one who accidentally committed suicide by calling this person "Victim S" (S for Suicide). Victim S had passed away on a Thursday after school. Victim M was killed on the afternoon of the next day, a Friday. While both deaths had happened nearly simulataneously, both were treated completely different. Also keep in mind that both of these students attended a Catholic School (it should be noted that the reader should do further research before going further if they are not aware of the Catholic Church's stance on Suicide). While the entire school mourned both of their deaths, the way they were treated posthumously differed by nearly 180 degrees. Victim M was venerated, was sanctified, was mourned, and like a soilder killed in the line of battle, had their locker decorated so much so that it was difficult to read how many signatures, gifts, balloons, etc. had really been given. There was no question on Victim M's death OR Victim M's life. All her mistakes, in turn, had been forgiven. It was nearly blasphemous to speak of any of the bad things she had done. What makes this even MORE interesting and worthy of discussion is the popularity of Victim M. Victim M immediately became the most popular person in the school, morbidly enough. Everyone was searching for memories, words, glances inside their minds to attach themselves to this tragedy. To be a part of the tragedy, but more so to be a part of the purity, sanctity, and honor that followed Victim M in death. Even more morbidly, people began digging up their yearbooks and looking for any pictures of her, and if they were even luckier, possibly a signature. The yearbook for that year came out for the seniors earlier than for anyone else that year, and I can specifically remember myself, as well as everyone else, digging through the yearbook and feeling their heart drop as they found various pictures of Victim M in the last year of her life. She had been sanctified. This was not the case for Victim S.
*+* Victim S suffered a far different fate posthumously. The locker for Victim S rarely had vistors surrounding it, and was decorated more so by those who personally knew of Victim S and loved Victim S rather than those who had latched on to the tragedy. To latch onto a tragedy such as suicide in a Catholic School as those had latched onto the tragedy of Victim M was impossible for a few reasons. First, it proved to be too much emotionally to fully immerse one's self into both of the tragedies. For most, this was the first major emotional toll regarding death of someone that wasn't old or stricken with illness. To embrace the tragedy of Victim S and Victim M was too difficult emotionally and psychologically. In order to keep one's sanity in place, every student that knew of both tragedies and did not know either Victim S or Victim M beyond an acquaintance mostly latched onto the tragedy of Victim M for this reason. It was easier because most people were doing the same-there were more people to comfort you because they knew how you were feeling. Second, to embrace a tragedy is to understand a tragedy. This type of suicide, albeit accidental, was unknown to almost all of the members of this school, and the nature of it, without getting too graphic or offending anyone who may have been personally touched by this tragedy, was very taboo in regards to the values embracing by a Catholic school. Many in class while asking questions about the death had said that "maybe Victim S deserved to die if Victim S was doing something so stupid" or "Why would anyone be doing something like that anyway?" They equated Victim S' type of suicide to an overdose on drugs (because of the type of suicide it was), and psychologically, society looks down on drug addicts and looks negatively upon those who kill themselves by overdosing on drugs as either "headonists", "lazy", "worthless", etc. During the mass to celebrate both of their lives, the parents of Victim M were embraced by the community and their tears were our tears. The parents of Victim S, who were also there on the other hand, were very obviously shunned from the sympathy of the community. It was almost a storybook depiction-One family was embraced by the community, the other banished. Of course, real life never proves to be this dramatic, but in retrospect, it seems quite obvious to me now.
*+* In Conclusion, the tragedies of Victim S and Victim M(which I assure you is a 100% true story that I had experienced in my own life) present the perfect dicothomy that exists in young America regarding this sanctity of victims of "someone else's hand". Using logical reasoning and quantitative analysis, it would seem to me that, regardless of religous creed and/or morals, those that committ suicide should be embraced more by the community because they feel at fault (as all suicides can be prevented) and the lesson of his or her death can be taught to the community and hopefully educate and prevent it from occuring again. The tragedy of those that are murdered "Accidentally" can ONLY be mourned for the fact that their deaths could not have been prevented in any way possible AND educating the community about these type of deaths can not and will not be able to help prevent another type of this death from occuring because it was an ACCIDENT or an UNPRECEDENTED EVENT. In reality, it is the other way around.
*+* Society feels embarassed when a young life is lost that could have been prevented. When they hold the fault in their hands of a child's death, they are more angry than sorrowful, looking for blame instead of looking for peace. While they usually feel that the parents are most responsible (hence, why the parents of Victim S were shunned), society mourns its poor choices in ignoring the plights of this young person, rather than mourning the actual life that was lost. While this may vary case to case, psychologically, this seems to be the face.
*+* Accidental deaths present a paradox that questions the very morality of our soul. While we are devestated that this young person has lost their life either by murder, car accident, or some other type of unpreventable accident, we are relieved that this random act of fate has not taken our very own lives. For accidents are just that, and the only requirements to be involved in an accident is to be at the right place at the right time. They are not preventable, and no one can avoid them. We mourn the horrible luck the victim has, but more importantly, it makes us think twice about being alone, driving at night or during inclement weather, and from the affect of these accidental deaths, we learn how to live our lives safer so we can avoid this type of death ourselves. We also like to attach ourselves to others, and receive affection from others without having to put forth that much effort. Uniting under a tragedy like this, even if people do not know the victim personally, provides a possiblity for people to unite, make new friends, and create bonds that otherwise may have never been created. While this is not the case for every person mourning a victim of accidental death, it seems to be for those who adhere to this phenomenon.
*+* This entry was inspired by the multiple posts on myspace about a 17-year old girl who was murdered last week by the name of Anna Svidersky in Vancouver, Washington. She was supposedly murdered on the job while eating by a man who had not previously known her, and a motive for the murder has not yet been discovered. The phenomenon that is myspace is bewildering enough, but the capabilities of myspace as a vehicle for promoting this "Sanctification of the Unknown Dead" Phenomenon is reaching limits previously unheard of and unseen in any digital portal capabilities ever. In the example mentioned above, the news of Victim M only spread by numerous effects from outspoken members of the community, a scholarship fund created in Victim M's name, and continuous run-ins of the law by the person responsible for the death of Victim M. This took many months, and by the time it spread far enough, the intial shock value had worn off and its spreading power had died down. Suicide victims such as Stephanie Kinghorn had gained national notoriety because of her posthumous feature in YM regarding her short life and death, and such examples have shown the power of the national printed word in educating the public against preventable deaths. The spreadings of the news of Svidersky's death is spreading quicker than lightning, with those posting titles such as "This is horrible" and "You have to be COLD not to repost this!" to once again give proof to my theory of the "Santification of the Unknown Dead". Especially on myspace, which is based on "befriending" people that they will never truly meet and/or know. I will post the bulletin below for you to visually understand this phenomenon (that, unless I am wrong, is a theory that I own and have formulated):
( Please Click Here to View the Actual Bulletin for Anna SviderskyCollapse ) I would like to know your opinions. Besides analyzing the actual effect, what elements did the author of this bulletin use to draw sympathy from those who did not know this girl? What is your opinion on this type of bulletin? Do you feel sad after seeing this bulletin? And if so, what do you suppose makes you mourn for someone you have never met before? I would like your feedback on this entry. Thank you for your time.
[[[[[[++++EDIT::::12:35 AM APRIL 25, 2006: EMAIL SENT TO ME ON MYSPACE BY DON CONROY, ONE OF MY BEST FRIEND'S HUSBANDS. WORTH NOTING AND ADDING. PLEASE READ THIS AS WELL++++]]]]]]
I don't have a LJ account, and frankly don't have time to devote to another online community. I have some comments though.
This seems to me to be part of the 'victimhood' craze that has been sweeping America for about 50 or so years. It is increasing in intensity almost every day.
Anyone who can find a way to cast themself as a victim is instantly beyond reproach. Anyone who can somehow attach themself to a victim is somehow a better person for it. It shouldn't work, but it does.
Eminem can say the n-word because he is friends with people who can use that word because they are victims of that word.
Every liberal newspaper (redundant much) had nasty things to say about Pope John Paul II until he died. Then they couldn't find enough nice things to say about him.
Does it make sense? Not really.
Now I would like to add one thing to the odd reactions people have after a suicide. Because people are led to believe that ALL suicides are preventable, nobody wants to admit knowing the victim. To admit knowing them is to accept guilt for their death - because if you knew them you should have been able to prevent the suicide. Other preventable deaths are different; for example, if somebody dies of heart disease because there were no available hearts - or if they didn't have the insurance to pay for the operation - nobody in their circle of friends could be considered culpable for their death. Then people can mourn openly without the stigma that unfortunately follows suicide mourners.
To wrap up, I blame education that tells teenagers that they should look for the signs of suicidal behaviour in their friends for this sick and twisted dichotomy.
I have to go back to work now - I'm on my dinner break, I'm pulling a 16 hour day here. Hope this helps, and sorry I can't post it on LJ.