Friday, July 15, 2011

A Double Standard

You may have read about the horrific murder of Leiby Kletzky, an 8 year old child living in an Orthodox Jewish community. His murderer is another member of that same community.

Of course, everyone agrees that his murderer must be mentally ill. Leiby's death came about because of mental illness. Thousands of people showed up to bury Leiby, and thousands more have shown their support for his family by writing letters and giving tzedakah (charity) in his name.

The murder of an 8 year old boy is nothing less than shocking, traumatic, and horrible. I don't mean at all to minimize this fact by what I am about to say. But hundreds of people in Orthodox Jewish communities die every year of mental illness. By suicide. Why is there such a media circus around this young boy, but still a dark shroud of silence around suicide in the Orthodox Jewish community?

Both the death of Leiby and the death of my brother came about because of mental illness. But the reactions are polar opposites. People who have never even met Leiby are writing letters in his memory and to his family. Someone set up a gmail account where you can email letters of comfort to the family. Why can't the extended Orthodox Jewish community rally support around families who have lost loved ones to suicide in the same way they have for Leiby's family?

1 comment:

  1. while I cannot understand or fathom either your pain or the pain of his family, there is something that is more horrifying when the mental illness results in the murder of a young child, rather than the killing of ones self. Both are tragic but the taking of another persons life is worse, in my opinion. Again, let me stress that I by no means want to minimize your pain but I have encountered death many times in my chosen occupation and to me it is always worse when someone elses depravity results in the death of an innocent person rather than the person that is him or herself ill. However, that being said, I do feel that something does need to be done to try to prevent death by suicide as well because that too is an often preventable loss with the proper intervention