I will use this post to make another tasteless, but interesting, speculation. As you know, I am interested in analyzing scenarios that are not yet common but have the potential to become so due to changes in human society, culture and technological capabilities.
Is it possible to convert most cases of suicide into suicide-multiple homicides?
Don’t be so shocked.. Few could have foreseen the barbarity of the Irish “famine”, WW1, Stalin-ism, the Ukrainian “famine”, Japanese occupation of Manchuria, the Holocaust, WW2 etc. History shows us that otherwise normal human beings are perfectly capable of rationalizing behavior and actions which now shock us.
Getting back to the subject under discussion- the starting point for the idea mentioned in this post is based on the simple fact that a person who is willing to die has nothing to lose. There is, therefore, nothing to stop a person from killing scores more before he kills himself. So let us, then, analyze the feasibility of normalizing suicide-homicides in our era.
While psychiatrists (aka quacks with prescription pads) might tell you that people who commit suicide are “mentally ill”, objective facts suggest otherwise. Socio-economic factors such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, discrimination and biological ones such as untreated pain and terminal diseases are strongly associated with a vastly increased risk of suicide. Did you notice two common themes in all of those conditions?
The first one is hopelessness. People who are hopeful about the future do not contemplate or commit suicide. You have to first stop believing in the possibility of a better future to be able to even think about suicide.
The other common theme is that apathy, neglect and abuse by others is strongly linked to suicide. Whether it is unemployment, poverty, untreated or poorly treated pain or abuse and exploitation by the surrounding social system- the attitudes and actions of others are, by far, the most important factors that drive people to suicide.
Now let us put two and two together and ask the inevitable question-
Would it not be fitting if a person tortured, mutilated and killed the kids and grand-kids of those who were responsible for creating the conditions leading to his suicide? What can law and society do to a person without hope who is willing to kill himself?
Why not destroy the comfort and hope of those who drove the person to suicide in the first place?
This is not a trivial question, because doing so ensures that those who hurt the person in question can never harm anybody else again. Moreover targeting the so-called “innocent” kids and grand-kids of those who hurt the concerned person is significantly easier and far more effective than taking out the active perpetrators. Since most people nowadays have only one or two rather late in life, their gruesome death almost guarantees a catastrophic and irreversible disruption of the targeted persons life. Even a half-successful attempt would maim and cripple them beyond repair.
Think about it.. Could a middle management-type be the same again if somebody left his kids severed heads outside his office? Could a professor be able to keep on abusing graduate students if his kids or grand-kids were burnt alive? Could a physician afford to be a prick if his kids were beaten to death by the somebody before he killed himself. I could go on.. but you get my point.
Some of you might wonder- why is it more likely to occur now rather than in previous and probably more barbaric eras?
The answer lies in a host of social and technological changes which have occurred in the last 40-odd years. Even 5 decades ago, strong family and community bonds universally prevented people from acting on their more sadistic impulses- at least against their own kith, kin and community. Religious bullshit and social conformity also probably hindered people from doing such things.
Today we live in an atomized society with no loyalties, sense of belonging or anything else that might hinder such behavior. Moreover in the last decade and a half, we also live in an information and communication rich world which has the very important effect of removing false hope. It is hard for people to believe in traditional institutions of stability be they stable marriage, friendships, community or livelihoods. Consequently it is also hard to believe in the idea of a better future, even if most people do so only at a subconscious level- at least for now. We live in a world where it is obvious that everybody is out to get everybody else in a zero sum, winner-take-all, game. Few believe that promises or contracts are meant to be honored at any level. More importantly this has become common knowledge and experience. These factors, especially their scale and combination, unprecedented in human history.
The speed of information and idea travel are the final piece of this puzzle. In previous era, the powers-to-be could stop or distort news and messages. That is no longer the case and we have reached the stage where the actions of one person, under certain conditions, could start a whole cascade of effects which would be essentially uncontrollable. Did I mention that it is basically impossible to identify the successful spark until it is too late..
What do you think? Does my prediction that suicide-multiple homicides will become common in the near future have any merit? Do you think that the current social setup will unwittingly end up normalizing such behavior?