A former president of South Korea, a guy pushed over a bridge, an actress, and two cases of assisted: suicides are all over the news this weekend. What the hell is going on?
The former president of South Korea, Roh Moo-Hyun, jumped off of a hill behind his house last night. Roh had been accused of taking $6 million from a South Korean businessman in bribes; his wife was being questioned, and he was to go through a second round of questioning this week. Roh - the first South Korean president to cross the demilitarized zone - left behind a despondent note on his computer before going for a walk with his aide; in it, he wrote: "Don't be too sad. Aren't life and death both a piece of nature?..It is fate."
In China, a guy contemplating suicide was actually pushed over a bridge by someone else. Chen Fuchao, piled under massive debt, was standing on a bridge when Lai Jiansheng, 66, decided he was sick of what he considered to be a "selfish activity." Fuchao's standing on the bridge had police quartering off the area, and traffic got backed up. Jiansheng shook Fuchao's hand, and shoved him off the bridge, saluting him on the way down. Yeah. Luckily, Chinese authorities had already partially inflated an emergency cushioning, and Fuchao is in the hospital with spinal injuries; it looks like he's going to survive.
A British man used Google Earth to figure out the exact location - 200 miles from where he lived - to decide where he was going to end his life, it was recently discovered. British actress Lucy Gordon - who had a small role in Spider Man 3, and played Jane Birkin in the upcoming French biopic based on Serge Gainsbourg's life - killed herself in Paris two days ago (the New York Post chose a typically mongrel-esque headline for their treatment of the AP story: '"SPIDEY' ACTRESS SUICIDE.").
Closer to home, a particularly sick story: a 32 year-old Las Vegas local, Jeff Ostfeld, was arrested for smuggling animal tranquilizers back from Mexico. He claimed they were to help with assisted suicides. Mexican authorities had tipped off American law enforcement that he'd been seen leaving the hotel of an American woman who'd overdosed on said drugs. She had books about anxiety and depression littered about the room. According to his mother, who had no idea what was going on until she read about it, Ostfeld suffers from severe anxiety and depression as well. Elsewhere, a 66 year-old woman became the first in the state of Washington's history to use their assisted suicide law: she was suffering from stage-4 pancreatic cancer, and the pain had become unbearable.
And finally, apropos of Memorial Day, the Washington Post ran this incredibly sad, teary piece detailing the new statistics on suicide in the military.
In 2008, 140 soldiers on active duty took their own lives, continuing a trend in which the number of suicides has increased more than 60 percent since 2003, surpassing the rate for the general U.S. population.
Sure, this is an unlikely roundup for us to take on over the weekend. It's a downer in every sense of the word, and the rate of occurrences of this nature happening at any given moment is probably more significant than an RSS feed full of them over one stretch could ever indicate. But times are tough, people are scared, and it looks like a lot of them aren't seeking help. Even if they did, right now, the 2009 National Alliance on Mental Illness study gave our country a "D" on our mental health care nationally due in no small part to dwindling government resources (though New York, where Gawker lives, gets a "B," the highest grade a state got this year).
Anyway: no punchline here. Just a bad, tragic news cycle. Online, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center has help to offer for anyone you know in trouble. Believe me: I'd much rather spend my Saturday's writing about Shia LaBeouf's cock. Sometimes, too many news items in one week are too much to ignore. And on a three-day weekend, we can probably afford to deal with something serious for a moment that doesn't have to do with the New York Times explaining the fourth dimension of Hamptons Recession Chic. On that note: back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Former S. Korean President Roh commits suicide [CNN]
Passer-By Pushes Suicide Jumper In China [CBS News]
Man Uses Google Earth To Pick Suicide Location [Fox News]
'Spidey' Actress Suicide [New York Post]
Las Vegas man allegedly brought assisted suicide drugs into U.S. [Las Vegas Sun]
Cancer patient first to use Washington's assisted suicide law [CNN]
Generals Find Suicide a Frustrating Enemy [Washington Post]