Murder-Suicides — How do we make sense of these tragedies?


As you all know, recently a young pilot committed a murder-suicide in a plane in Switzerland, leaving many to wonder why someone would do such a thing. To say that he was depressed doesn’t do justice to what he might have been experiencing. There appears to be personality abnormalities in those who commit such tragic acts, including a desire for infamy and a sense of undoing some injustice that the person perceives was perpetrated on him or her.

Many times when I see clients, they want to know why people do the hurtful and painful things they do — abusive parents, spouses, bosses, lovers, leaders, religious figures, etc. Unfortunately, while there is research on psychopathic, narcissistic and otherwise mentally ill offenders, the why of their misdeeds fails to soothe or ease the person’s pain. What’s more empowering, I think, is to contemplate how to recognize “red flags” or danger signals in relating to people who don’t have our best interest at heart and avoiding falling into deeper involvement (like marrying or having children with such people).

Nonetheless, for an interesting look at the research of why a very small portion of humans do such things, here is a link to a fascinating article:

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