If you are trying to solve a problem, it is a completely useless endeavor if you choose to ignore some of the possible root causes. As an engineer, a major part of my job is to figure out why things go wrong and then to recommend actions to make sure they do not happen again. If I let my biases get in the way of this analysis, how well do you think I could do my job? How well do you think the business that employs me would operate?
Bradley Stone, who recently murdered his ex-wife along with five other people, was found dead in the woods this afternoon with what appear to be self-inflicted stab wounds. That brings the victim death total to seven people.
Yes, Bradley Stone is a victim.
No one will defend what he did—murder is a horrific crime and there is no sense to be made from his acts. But instead of decrying him as an evil, selfish man who couldn’t handle his divorce and custody battle for his children, it is vital to understand that this was a senseless act of violence. In other words, no normal, sane person would ever do such a thing. There was something wrong with him.
Stone claimed to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is one of many former military personnel who suffer from the condition. Many of them sadly commit suicide, unable to cope with the horrific experiences of the wars in which they were involved. From 1999 to 2010, an average of 22 veterans killed themselves every day—that’s one every 65 minutes. It is not surprising that every once in awhile one of them takes some others with him before taking his own life.
Unfortunately, those who bring up PTSD when talking about Bradley Stone or any tragedy such as this will likely be brushed aside. There is too much at stake for people to begin questioning what happens to the men and women who are ordered to perform and see horrific acts of violence against their fellow human beings. It might sway popular opinion against the wars. It might make people think twice about joining the military. They cannot let potential recruits think, “I don’t want to be a statistic in a suicide count.” They cannot let family and friends of potential recruits think, “I don’t want his time in war to ruin his life or our lives.”
When PTSD from combat experience is brought up, it usually involves a discussion about how it is best to deal with those who suffer from PTSD. How do we deal with this PTSD?! We should be asking how we can prevent this PTSD! A bandage might work, but bandages are only good for trying to hold things together—they will not and cannot prevent the issue from happening in the first place.
If the suicides and homicides that can be traced to PTSD were not tragic enough, it is even more of a tragedy that people are quite content to create more and more ticking time bombs of PTSD violence.