They’re all over the news, and they’re of two kinds:
- The reasonably explicable variety, which features people unable to sustain high levels of isolation and rigor, as in the recent rash of suicides on a navy ship. The numbers got so high that the navy evacuated the ship. These suicides share traits with prisoner suicide.
- The more mysterious phenomenon of highly successful people destroying themselves at the height of their power and influence. Here we might think of the 2019 death of Alan Krueger; more recently, several young women athletes, all of whom had just won tournaments and awards, killed themselves. A highly promising young tv star just killed herself. On the verge of her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Naomi Judd killed herself.
The cases of Judd and Krueger seem to involve a kind of existential exhaustion after years-long struggles with clinical depression. The powerful drugs, the endless therapy sessions, the setbacks – everything takes a toll on someone already fatigued and undermined. OTOH, although many young suicides have already exhibited some signs of being troubled, there’s nonetheless an impulsive – almost panicked – feel to some of these deaths. Bizarrely, their fate doesn’t seem gradual, but rather the outcome of a sudden access of horror at the thought of existing for one more second. Their end resembles a psychotic break featuring an insupportable hatred of being.