By Tim Rohr
The tragedy in Tumon last week is almost too huge to comment on. The grief and anger is simply unimaginable. Like most, I wondered what would make this person do such a thing.
Some things have come to light: drugs, divorce, a romantic breakup, a recent departure from the structured world of school. In this case, it was a lethal cocktail of events which exploded into a murderous act.
Internet technology also may have factored. A YouTube video of the girl the suspect apparently separated from was found. In it she shares an emotional message of contrition over their break up, restates her love for him, and concludes by blowing him a kiss.
Whereas in the past many a broken-hearted lover may have stared longingly at a picture of a lost love, a video message from a former lover is quite another thing. Upon viewing the video myself, it was easy to imagine the emotions which might have overcome this 21-year-old male as he viewed it, probably over and over.
It also appears that the suspect may have planned to take his own life. It was reported that he had been giving away his personal belongings, and appeared deeply troubled. Such a plan is not hard to imagine when the above-mentioned “cocktail of events” is mixed with the video reminder of his loss.
While the suspect did not succeed in taking his own life – if that was his plan – it is certain that he had lost all regard for it. And his age and his action once again brought to the fore a concern about the mounting number of young people, especially males, who are increasingly prone to suicidal behavior.
Because suicide is such a terribly sensitive and thus dangerous topic on which to speak, I did not want to address it prematurely. However, given the impact of this incident, now may be an opportune time to examine a possible cause for the increase in suicide amongst the young which few have neither considered, nor seem to want to consider.
Nationwide, the suicide numbers are actually declining slightly. In 1950, there were 13.2 suicides per 100,000 people. As of 2010, there were 12.4. However, for young people ages 15-24, and especially for males, it’s another matter. During the same time period, suicide in this age bracket has tripled.
Losing so many young people, just as the promise of life is beginning, is an atrocity of pandemic proportions that should force us to put everything on the table in our attempt to address it. But there is one thing which is never “put on the table.”
The most common cause of suicide in this age bracket appears to be despondency over a broken romance. But “breaking up” is not new. What IS new is the sharp increase in violence and suicide which follows upon the end of a romantic relationship. Why?
If we were to graph it, we would easily see that the increased rate of suicide amongst the young would match the increased rate of young people who are sexually active. So while breaking up is not new, the rate at which an increasing number of young unmarried people are having sex with each other is. (Does not apply in all cases, of course.)
Draw your own conclusions, but sex does something to a young couple that simply exchanging rings and innocent affections does not. Sex, regardless of age or intent, does what it was designed to do: makes two people one. It is not just a biological act, it is an irreversible exchange of persons which, if nature so deigns, fuses the two into a wholly new person: a child.
Thus, breaking up is no longer a matter of a “Dear John letter” and giving back a ring. Whether or not pregnancy occurs, the breaking of a sexually bonded relationship is the full ripping apart of “one body,” a fission of persons, the relational equivalent of splitting the atom with metaphorically proportionate consequences of emotional and spiritual fallout, often far beyond ground zero.
The rupture of sexually-fused persons leaves a radioactive emotional wound, a hemorrhage that does not heal, despite the numbness time may assuage it with. And death is the fallout: murderous rampages, suicide, emotional self-destruction, drug addictions, broken families, genital diseases, and generations of broken people.
And what is our answer? More condoms, more birth control, more “Plan B,” more pills, patches, implants, abortifacients and abortions because “they’re gonna do it anyway.”
Wrong answer! While contraception might limit pregnancy, it will never limit the internal devastation wrought by the splitting of persons fused together in sexual intercourse. Think about that the next time some politician or federally funded project wants to teach your child how to put on a condom.
Tim Rohr leads a Catholic Study Group which meets Monday evenings, 6 p.m., at the Cathedral Gift Shop. He can be found online at www.themassneverends.com and “friended” at facebook.com/timrohr.guam His opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the staff & management of the U Matuna Si Yu’os.