Small Town Suicides

When you live in paradise life should be perfect. But, paradise doesn’t come cheap and the pressure to remain resident can be overwhelming.

The body of a 59 year old man, with a single gun shot wound to his head, was found in the bushes near the Farmer’s market on Saturday. The police suspect no foul play.

The dead man and his wife had been fighting on Thursday night, about the fact that he was unemployed and that they had no money. She told him he that had to get a job. He walked outside into the nearby bushes and shot himself.

This is the fourth suicide in Sedgefield, that I know about, in the seven years that we have lived here.

A man who lived a few doors down from our first house, a cheerful guy who chatted to me every day as he walked his dog, stepped into the lounge where his wife and her sister were sitting, placed a gun to his chest and pulled the trigger. He was also in his late 50s.

My Mom’s friend’s husband had a drinking problem. She drew a line and he agreed to go to re-hab in Cape Town. They sat down to lunch and after dessert he went to the bedroom to lie down while she did some last minute packing. As she was finishing up in the bathroom a shot rang out. He was dead by the time she reached him.

The fourth guy didn’t use a gun and was younger than the others, financial problems too. He simply stepped into the path of oncoming traffic running on the highway cutting through town. Dead on impact.

Living in this bucolic setting – with blue seas, golden sands and distant mountain peaks – it all seems so idyllic and easy. Underneath the perfection runs a seam of David Lynchian darkness, sometimes there’s suffering in grabbing beauty. I guess that’s what gives Eden its edge.

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3 Responses to “Small Town Suicides”


  1. 1 shoreacres February 17, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Sometimes I am really, really bad about overthinking things. But I didn’t have to think much at all to see a big difference between your corner of the world and mine.

    There, financial woes and such resulted in a rash of suicides. Here, distraught individuals grab a handful of guns and go take out an office, or a restaurant, or a schoolroom full of innocent strangers. There was one suicide associated with the Enron scandal that I remember, but there aren’t many.

    I haven’t a clue why the difference exists. I wonder if suicides feel more shame, while people who take it out on others are consumed with rage. I just don’t know. What I feel is the unutterable sadness of it all – and how terrifying it must be to feel there’s no way out of the box.

    • 2 Jeannine February 17, 2010 at 8:45 am

      Interesting observation. We don’t, thank God, have the school shooting scenarios. We do have a unique thing here though – family killings, where (usually) the father kills the entire family and then himself.
      I guess that is an extended suicide though – more a manifestation of inward shame than of outward rage.
      Whatever the method, as you say, there can be nothing more terrifying than that feeling of ultimate hopelessness.

  2. 3 shoreacres February 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I was thinking about this post the other day when we got news that the fellow who was angry at the Internal Revenue Service, the Catholic Church, his accountant, his wife and George Bush flew his small private plan into the Austin, TX IRS office. It killed him, of course – suicide by small plane – and one other person. Its a wonder more weren’t killed.

    In any event, it’s just another example of externalizing the “enemy”. What gets me is that it surely takes some time to build up that much rage. I always wonder if there weren’t signs of trouble brewing.


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