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A form of suicide

By Jordanna Thigpen

October 2, 2006

Lately, America has been called many things.

Strapped against our will to the stainless steel hospital table of global public opinion, we have been diagnosed as schizophrenic (because we have dark symptoms with early adulthood manifestation); sociopathic (because we do harm without regard for others); and psychopathic (well, you know why.)

This week in dentist's-office-read Time, Hugo Chavez says that America is suicidal. "Bush wanted Iraq's oil and I believe he wants Venezuela's oil," Chavez says. "But the blame for high oil prices lies in the consumer model of the U.S. Its reckless oil consumption is a form of suicide."

Suicide is the ultimate revenge, isn't it? And revenge should appeal to red-blooded Americans, right? But at least for those who have considered suicide, there's something really pure about it. And it's comforting - if you're ever really sad or angry it's like coming home. It's always there, if you're really desperate; just like you can always make a PB&J if you're really hungry. But unless you're one of those who consummates this aching and final desire, something always brings you back, and it's not fear - it's compassion.

Is it possible, in your most ebony hour, to feel compassion for others? Our nation is about to find out.

Our prosperity, and our consumption, has been subsidized by the rest of the world for generations. No American can say she is truly prosperous. No American can truly say he is a self-made man. No American can say that he is not living off the blood, sweat, and tears of hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women around the world - many, as we saw this week, living without basic sanitation. Every American, from the homeless of San Francisco who are supported by tax and nonprofit dollars, to the top out of sights whose names you will never know, is subsidized by cheap lives and cheap oil.

So have we become a nation of vampires, even serial killers, methodically and knowingly assassinating the lives and character of those in the so-called second and third worlds? Hugo Chavez sees this clearly. And so does the rest of the global community.

At the very least, we are exhibiting suicidal ideation - we haven't actually committed suicide yet, so there's still hope.

Epidemiological factors associated with suicidal ideation include being male, white, greater than 65 years of age, with stressful life events and access to firearms. A majority of those seated in Congress, as do Cheney, Rumsfeld, the majority of the Cabinet, and department heads meet these qualifications.

Psychiatric disorders associated with suicidal ideation include major depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder and - this is key - in adolescents (and our nation can fairly be considered adolescent), antisocial and aggressive behavior. Certainly our nation has exhibited signs of each of these disorders, particularly in the past six years.

In a 1999 article, Dr. Michael Gliatto from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Dr. Anil Rai from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine proposed a several-step process for evaluating and treating suicidal ideation. The hospitalization process involves determining the following:

(1) Is the patient expressing suicidal ideation?
(2) Does the patient have access to lethal means, have poor social support, and poor judgment, and cannot make a contract for safety?

If the answers to both questions are yes, the patient should be hospitalized. We are so there!

Many people have spoken of America's "addiction" to oil. But our collective behavior is indeed closer to suicidal ideation. Nothing can ever be as final or chilling as actually doing ourselves in, and yet every day we return to our favorite comfortable place, taunting the members of our global family with the prospect in an increasingly desperate game.

A happy ending will come, when we behave with compassion towards ourselves and the world's people. Our nation as we knew it no longer exists. It will live in memory. The era now is a collective one: one of shared wealth, and shared oil. Our prayer now can be, may no nation have hegemony.


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



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