Springtime and Suicide

It is well documented that suicides spike in the spring and then again in the fall but less so.  A popular myth is that it is the holiday season when suicide is most likely but this is simply not the case. As to why this happens in the spring is pretty much speculation with one theory being that it is all the pollen in the air that is the root of this increase. This rather sketchy theory suggests that the increase in pollen causes an increase in inflammation and this leads to irritability and suicidal ideation I guess. I would suggest that further study is needed or perhaps more Claritin. file://localhost/. https/::www.cnn.com:2016:05:16:health:suicide-rates-spike-in-spring:index.html

“Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help.” David Buckel – from the NYT 4/14/2018

The above sentence is from the suicide note left by David Buckel the well known LGBTQ rights lawyer who self immolated himself in a Brooklyn park early on Saturday (4/14/2018) morning. I must admit I had never heard of David Buckel but he is perhaps most well know for his work on the Brandon Teena murder, a transgender person from Nebraska. Buckel was the lead attorney in a case that found a Nebraska county sheriff guilty of liable in Teena’s murder. Hilary Swank played Teena in the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry for which she won an Oscar.

David Buckel also was a prominent activist in several other areas of LGBTQ rights particularly in the area of marriage equality. For the past ten years however his focus was environmental issues and he was the moving force behind a major recycling/composting effort in the Brooklyn area.

Quoting further from his suicide note per the NYT:

Pollution ravages out planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather …Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuel, and many die early deaths as a result – my early death by fossil fuels reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

I have been unable to find the entire suicide note as of today but this is a further piece of the note in addition to those quotes above:

“I am David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide,” read a handwritten suicide note, according to the New York Daily News. “I apologize to you for the mess.”

Despite the fact that there were 44,965-reported deaths by suicide in the United States in 2016 they often receive little press coverage and this may be out of legitimate concern for impulsive copycat action by others.  The one thing that is hard for me to reconcile around David’s protest suicide is the anguish this is causing for his loved ones, co-activists and undeniably his partner of 34 years. I am not at all sure though that this pain and suffering should distract in any meaningful way from the power and perhaps even the legitimacy of his protest.

Many of us may have first heard of suicide by self-immolation by Buddhist monks in Viet Nam. Visual images of these acts were certainly a slap in the face to me to wake up to the unbelievable tragedy that war was. More recently the self-immolation again by Buddhist monks this time in Tibet as a form of protest to Chinese genocide continues. There have been at least 148 reported suicides in this manner by Tibetans since 2009.

Deaths from the potential catastrophic effects of climate change may far out strip deaths from all the wars in human history. Apparently roll backs to climate protections by the Trump administration and in particular by that selfish weasel Scott Pruitt had been causing David Buckel considerable consternation.

I do hope this raw and powerful form of protest on his part will not detract but rather enhance the legacy of this great gay hero. Though he was definitely a strong and successful proponent for issues of marriage equality and Trans rights maybe his last ten years and death are pointing us toward even more important issues facing all of humankind including the LGBTQ communities.

Though this has been perhaps the most painful piece I have written for Story Telling I’d like to close with just a few more paraphrased words from David’s suicide note, words for me personally to ponder: “Privilege is derived from the suffering of others”.

This a link to NYT article on David’s suicide – one of many I have read this past weekend and referred to in this piece: