DSQ > Summer 2007, Volume 27, No.3

I was surprised to learn that the third week of April had been designated as the National Suicide by Cop Holiday, not so much because this holiday is not long overdue, nor even because it is rare for an entire week to be designated a holiday, but more so because I would have thought someone in Outpatient Psychiatric Services would have clued me in well before now.

The anthem has been in circulation for some years now, courtesy of punk bands: "So what I'm afraid, I'll miss my mark/Aiming at my brain is like shooting in the dark/I'm too confused now to make sure I'm dead/It's all I can do to raise this body from the bed/I've weighed my options/ I'm not gonna stop/Until I reach my goal, suicide by cop, suicide by cop." (Baby Lindy & the Drugmothers). I am almost as surprised that CNN did not release Cho Seung-Hui's home-made videos, the trailers for his soon-to-be-released spectacle of violence, a day before the mass killings at Virginia Tech. (School motto: Invent the Future. Honestly: www.vt.edu.) No doubt the producer will correct that oversight in future commemorations of this national holiday, in which we memorialize the "senseless violence" that makes too much sense, an art form that is undeniably one of the most significant accomplishments of U.S. culture, the popular and heterogeneous use of deadly force on oneself and others.

Disability is in the environment.

It is only fitting on one of our major national holidays that journalists and pundits alike remind us of the national values this holiday commemorates: the love of the gun, of course, the love of violence in all forms, of course, Marilyn Manson, of course, you know, just a few of the superstructure values produced by our military-industrial base, but particularly our military base. As Immanual Wallerstein has noted, late capitalism [hereinafter "hyper-cap" or "hype-the-cap"] produces complete immiseration. Since it is hard to value complete immiseration, let's just group it, or some of it, under "mental illness." "Western Values' are Causing Mental Illness," writes Leo Lewis from Tokyo, with a graph illustrating the rise in suicide rates in Japan since the 70s. What are those "Western Values?": "Cut-throat rivalry," "larger numbers of temporary staff," "a willingness to sack people," and "greater pay disparities." I'm sure anyone reading this can think of a lot more. I know I can.

Western values produce Western remedies. Even though 25% of the U.S. population admits to "mental illness," the other 75% blaming their distress on their mother-in-law, our preferred remedy is to criminalize, punish, and if possible, kill the "mentally ill," the reasoning being that those who are immiserated must now be brutalized. Listen up: How you will be "treated" for your "mental illness" depends on the car your parents drive. If they drive a Mercedes, Aston-Martin, or even Volvo, you will be sent to a "private" facility and not heard from again (or for a looong time). If they drive a mini-van or SUV thingy, you will receive antidepressants in addition to the AHDH medication they gave you in grade school. If they drive a car without hubcaps, over five years old, and/or showing rust (or take the bus), you will receive monthly Thorazine shots as a condition of probation. In any event, the probabilities that you will eventually be "treated" in a jail or prison are rather high, especially if you are not "white." The largest psychiatric facilities today are penal colonies: Rikers Island Correctional Institute (NYC) (You might be coolin'/ you might be stylin'/But you won't be smiling/ on Riker's Island. [LL Cool J & DJ Polo]) and the Los Angeles County Jail. Washington Post: "He killed himself as police closed in."

Of course he deserved to die. He already knew that.

A Korean-American (inevitably interpellated in some fashion through the Korean War) at a southern school, Virginia Tech, a big ROTC training ground and one of the most corporatized public universities in the country (and why didn't CNN knock on his high school college admissions counselor's door and ask: "What were you thinking?), he was already on probation before the judge determined he was "a danger to himself" and "mentally ill" and sentenced him to "outpatient psychiatric treatment." Yet no one thought to dispense elephant tranquilizers, a.k.a. "anti-psychotics," to him when he went A.W.O.L., a common remedy for yet another Western value, boredom? Boredom as in that intersection of vacuity and punitive normalizing that makes so many people wonder if they are indeed, "rats in a cage." Boredom, a Western value and also an emotional affect to which one must just learn to say, "Yes, please, and could I have some mustard on that hotdog?", A student even ostracized in creative writing (???), the bourgeois bastion of freaky fascists, albeit in the hyper-cap entrepreneurial mode, an academic "discipline" (?) absorbed in aestheticizing politics (one common definition of fascism), and, thus, reproducing the disability/exceptionality binary, persuading each other that great disability produces great art and didn't most great writers off themselves? That is, you can always, in hype-the-cap, commodify your immiseration and sell it for a few bucks. Sure, the English Department committed this crime (yup, that handful of tenured-professors, including the chair, 70% percent of higher ed being staffed by people working more than one job, adjuncts and grad students, people who aren't even there most of the time, see, e.g., "Western Values," supra). How would he have fared in Psychology, where he could have earned his undergraduate credits by participating in experiments that study the "deviant" psychology of hating the rich?

yes, you are supposed to walk a student — or anyone — who needs help over to counseling. if they refuse, you bring a counselor to them.

We know that the "psychiatric disabilities" usually surface during late adolescence, the "college years." We know they are on the rise. We know that suicide is the second leading cause of death during late adolescence. We know that is on the rise, too. We also know that everybody thinks about it at one time or another in their life.

But who dares to linger or to ask what EMS is doing outside of the math tower on a sunny spring day, right around finals? Western Value Number One: Get over it (already), i.e., Drive Over The Roadkill On Your Way To The Funfest.

Drive, Drive, Drive. Drive in the biggest, fastest car money can buy. Just stop long enough to get gas. Here, at this exit. Oh, look boys and girls, there's a person standing at the corner at the red light. He (bum) or she (whore) is wearing a sign, just like a completely immiserated crazy person! Lock your doors. Oh, and it reads:

Did we give him what he wanted? Or did he get the only thing we have to offer him?

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Copyright (c) 2007 Xenia Queen Warrior Zyprexa

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