I Love My Dead Terrorist SonIf you haven't had the psychology of suicide as the backdrop of your youth, this NYTimes editorial about Gitmo is damning:
So it was not surprising in the least when inmates attempted suicide. Twenty-three tried to kill themselves over eight days in August 2003, but the military covered it up for 18 months. Now, three inmates have succeeded. Camp officials say one was a mid- or high-level Qaeda operative. One was captured in Afghanistan (doing what, we're not sure), and the other was from something the camp commander, Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr., called a splinter group.Further proof that we didn't need about the Pentagon's being full of numbskulls. Seriously, the White House is supposed to be really good at spin and PR and general bullshitting -- could they not send the people who think of an invasion as a new product for a fall rollout over to Defense?
Admiral Harris's response was as appalling as the suicides. "I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us," he said. The inmates, he said, "have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own."
These comments reveal a profound disassociation from humanity. They say more about why Guantánamo Bay should be closed than any United Nations report ever could.
The twenty-three guys who tried to kill themselves over eight days back in August 2003 I'm actually more inclined to think were genuinely despairing and fatally depressed. However, the three men who all hanged themselves, all on early Saturday, do seem a bit more suspicious. Maybe this is just because I'm in the generation that grew up on Heathers and PSAs on how to tell if a classmate is going to eat a pistol (which a couple of the people with whom I went to school did), but a coordinated suicide strikes me as less a spontaneous end to an unbearable existence, and more of an attempt to get attention. Were these men engaging in secretive self-destructive behavior like cutting themselves, or did they engage in showier actions like hunger strikes?
I have no more knowledge of psychology than that granted by the aforementioned PSAs and a 101 class, but people who make their unhappiness known to others seem intuitively less likely to be choosing suicide as a private goal, and more likely to be using it as a means to an end. Again, I'm interpreting this through the lens of teenage behavior -- partly because I don't find suicide to be a particularly mature decision in most cases, with the exception of the terminally ill whose pain cannot be controlled medically -- and seeing a trio of concerted suicides as an attempt to strike out rather than a withdrawal from the world. Though in fairness to the dead detainees, being in Guantanamo is pretty fucking withdrawn.