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We're All Broken, We're All Fragile, and We're All a Statistic

Having a friend make headline news by becoming the embodiment of everything wrong in the world was not how I imagined my evening would begin. Scott Smith, one of the hosts of the Recovering From Religion podcast, top dog activist for Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF ), father of three, and all around good guy, turned a very dark corner earlier today. He shot and killed his wife and then took his own life just as police arrived. Three school age girls are going home to relatives instead of their own bedrooms and welcoming arms of their parents. The footsteps of mom and dad in the hall to tuck them in are now permanently relegated to memory and dreams. The loving smile of dad is now a porcelain veneer of menace boiling beneath. 

 

Some might take offense to all this imagery, but the reality is whether mental illness was the primary cause or not (many say it was his losing to ptsd), he murdered his wife. He committed domestic violence. I feel that the constant woe of his ptsd being the cause removes some accountability from Scott's plate, and I am not going to have that. We can discuss this reality without eviscerating him. This was a man who was keenly aware of how ptsd affected him. His years in the military and then learning to live as a civilian activist out there to protect vets and bring further understanding to ptsd is important. He is not without his own weaknesses, and maybe the news of his wife's divorce pushed him to an edge he had never traversed before. This does not lessen or change the fact he committed domestic violence. He murdered his wife. He took an opportunity to control his life how he saw fit, and forced his soon to be ex-wife to follow. He even called the police and told them what he was doing. Once again, someone burned it all down because it wasn't going their way and they had to have absolute control.

 

Does it really need to be said for the millionth time that mental health is a huge issue that is still taking baby steps to become a mature discussion in this country?  And right now is the time in our community of freethinkers to seriously evaluate this issue in our own ranks. We cannot always see or know what is going on behind closed doors in our friends' lives, but we can consistently promote a very personal avenue of communication to find these dark moments in our impulses and try to diffuse them before they become tragedy. We can be active participants in our local communities to demand better crisis services without stigma. We can educate our communities that staying in the hospital for mental health reasons is not a thing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Self-care must happen or we cannot take care of those we love. We will hurt them as we hurt ourselves. I have personally been to that dark edge and back, and luckily my family and I walked away intact. I didn't hide, but embraced help for once. But that was only after barely waking up from an intentional overdose because I couldn't process my guilt.

 

Some might look back and say Scott was a good man who had his own demons that got the better of him. Some might look back and say he was a bad man, letting this murder define his legacy. What we should be looking back on is how we can help prevent more of these types of violent episodes from occurring due to any number of reasons, simply by being present and demanding we all take care of ourselves through proper programs and resources instead of the way Scott did it in the end. 

 

PTSD didn't kill his wife. He did. Let's prevent this from happening again.



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Very sorry to hear your news. To your point I would say we should probably fight our growing tendency to claim victimhood at every wrong turn.

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How many of our soldiers have to take this route before we as a nation realize what we are doing isn't supporting the troops. If they were sent off to fight honorable wars actually defending the nation, they wouldn't be dying at their own hands 20 times every day. 

 

Very sorry to learn about one more. This is very sad for those poor girls. 

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28 minutes ago, Vigile said:

How many of our soldiers have to take this route before we as a nation realize what we are doing isn't supporting the troops. If they were sent off to fight honorable wars actually defending the nation, they wouldn't be dying at their own hands 20 times every day. 

 

Very sorry to learn about one more. This is very sad for those poor girls. 

I agree one million percent about us not truly supporting our troops. I will remain cynical on his ptsd really being a key role in this though. There was a lot of pre meditation apparently, and I say apparently right now, and honestly, as someone who has dealt with death threats from an ex while trying to exit a relationship, I am really not buying it was his ptsd. More will be known at some point I am sure. 

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How utterly sad. How heartbreaking this is. So tragic. This story of Scott is the epitome of a human brain that had snapped and only saw hopelessness in those last days. Death would become the only way out of the pain. He had no hope left and he didn't want his wife to have any either. For whatever reason, maybe his hopelessness and depression had caused her to want to begin another life and he wasn't going to let her. Maybe she just wanted to move on because the relationship wasn't working? But whatever, his sick brain said 'no' to her. So he took her to. Heartbreak can cause its' own mental breakdowns. How sick was his mind that he would leave behind his three dear, innocent children without their mom and dad?

 

I personally believe that mental illness is caused to a huge degree by the world itself. If you do not have a strong fighting spirit, you will not make it on this earth. You will become a victim of life itself. Because of mankind's strong instinct to survive, the world of humans has caused complete chaos from the very beginning. The tribes wanted their power and it all started there. Their beliefs, their ways...and if you don't  agree with them you could become their victim because you don't fight against the 'so-called' one in power. They will try to take you down. And they will if you let them. You are the 'sane' one but the world makes you mental if you are not strong enough. Scott was probably at one time a very sane man. We are like innocent butterflies flying above the light until it burns us. And burns us more. And then burns us more again until the spirit to fight back leaves you... and you are now 'mental'. The stresses of life can make you mental if you are not strong. Sometimes, the cold, hard facts of life are not easy to deal with.

 

The environment in which we live has lied to us on every level about the way life really is. We are just human machines programmed by society and our environments. Most people had a lot of hope when they were younger. Our parents, teachers, governments, clergy fed us their own version of lies.....lies that had been passed down to them. The world lied to us about what being in the military 'service' was really about.They made war look like a game of winning. They lied to us about money and debt because if we knew all the truth, we would never use a credit card again. That's how they keep us trapped. They lied to us about body image and how we are supposed to look. We were not allowed to use our own mind and be different than the 'clan'. They didn't teach us in school that someday our loved ones would die and how to deal with that because most of us were taught that god's ways are mysterious and that we just had to accept that this is the way life is. (besides, they told us we would meet them all in heaven someday) We don't even get to grieve properly because of that stupid belief. We live in self-criticism because of our failures and some of those failures were lies to begin with... the lies of what is success looks like in life. So humans become depressed.....and get tagged with a mental disorder. It's some of the reasons we eat junk, spend money we don't have, gamble, drink, smoke, toke, take pills, drug, sex... and whatever other distraction you can think of to heal the pain you feel inside and make you feel good again.

 

I didn't understand my fathers' alcoholism until he got so drunk one night and told us some of his horror stories about the war. My father turned to alcohol to deal with the things he saw. All for the cause of fighting for your country.

 

 What did this man Scott see when he was a soldier? How hard was it when he found out that god was a lie? That he was on his own to survive? We do not know the false mask he was wearing for his public. Obviously, his brain had turned to mush. He didn't have any fight left in him. And his sick brain didn't want his wife to survive either.  Now his 3 children will be infected with mental disorders for the rest of their lives.

 

Can anyone else see that it is getting worse as we evolve?  We are victims of this world unless we know how to fight. And you must be one hell of a good fighter in order to make it in this world. The only way to change this world is by starting to change who we are and growing out of the beliefs that the world have shoved down our throats and try to help others see this truth. As I have said before....unfortunately, people do not want the truth.

 

This story is so incredibly sad.

R.I.P.

 

And may those dear children get the proper help they need to help them deal with this tragedy.

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This brings up responsibility on a level most of us just don't have the faculties to process.  PTSD may not have killed his wife, but it shaped the man who did it, and there are many more cases of scarred men by war who come home and do similar.  Obviously motive has a lot to do with it, and it seems his inability to live with their impending divorce was likely exacerbated by the extremity of the capacity of his mental experiences due to the increased size of his amygdala.  Christianity taught us to regard human behavior and tragedy in a very moralized way, but we are not born sinful as their doctrines taught, but we do have genetic precursors which were shaped by evolutionary processes that closely connected aggression and sexuality.  A neurobiological legacy which has had devastating effects on all female primates, especially with humans who have oppressed females culturally on an almost universal case, as aggression was favored among strong landed warrior classes who could protect their kingdoms and Empires.  

 

We are not rational creatures, most of our rationalities are post hoc, and merely explanations for the demands of our subconscious limbic system which governs most of our behavior.  Most of the thoughts we label "our" thoughts, as if we are the originators rather than they just appearing in consciousness.  This is what usually lies behind most of our suffering, the personalization of all our thoughts and anxieties, this is what drives guilt and depression and invents horrific circumstances yet to coalesce.  

 

I say all of this in a general sense, I don't know what particular circumstances or motives drove this man to kill himself and his wife, I just consider the connection to be more widespread as we have had many wars and many wounded warriors who come home and are not cared for and whose families end in tragedy.  

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11 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

This brings up responsibility on a level most of us just don't have the faculties to process.  PTSD may not have killed his wife, but it shaped the man who did it, and there are many more cases of scarred men by war who come home and do similar.  Obviously motive has a lot to do with it, and it seems his inability to live with their impending divorce was likely exacerbated by the extremity of the capacity of his mental experiences due to the increased size of his amygdala.  Christianity taught us to regard human behavior and tragedy in a very moralized way, but we are not born sinful as their doctrines taught, but we do have genetic precursors which were shaped by evolutionary processes that closely connected aggression and sexuality.  A neurobiological legacy which has had devastating effects on all female primates, especially with humans who have oppressed females culturally on an almost universal case, as aggression was favored among strong landed warrior classes who could protect their kingdoms and Empires.  

 

We are not rational creatures, most of our rationalities are post hoc, and merely explanations for the demands of our subconscious limbic system which governs most of our behavior.  Most of the thoughts we label "our" thoughts, as if we are the originators rather than they just appearing in consciousness.  This is what usually lies behind most of our suffering, the personalization of all our thoughts and anxieties, this is what drives guilt and depression and invents horrific circumstances yet to coalesce.  

 

I say all of this in a general sense, I don't know what particular circumstances or motives drove this man to kill himself and his wife, I just consider the connection to be more widespread as we have had many wars and many wounded warriors who come home and are not cared for and whose families end in tragedy.  

 

It's funny when we discuss wounded soldiers coming home.  My father was a Vietnam vet, decorated, suffered from occasional night terrors about his tours. He treated me like shit. It had little to do with his trauma from Vietnam, but mostly his own crap childhood that he chose to repeat with me.  He knew better, even during his most upset moments when he would threaten to hurt himself, throw things in a wall, and scream and yell and shake me with frustration. That bastard knew he was in the wrong, and he opted to to not deal with it and hurt me. 

 

First ex-husband (married at age 16 so you know THAT wasn't going to work well). He went into the Airforce. He was traumatized after basic and was under a no firearm order due to his mental health, but they wouldn't let him loose from his contract either. He treated me like shit. Again, it had little to do with his trauma from military service, but mostly his own crap childhood that he chose to repeat with me. He also knew better, even during his most upset moments when he would superficially stab himself with knives in order to elicit compliance from me in whatever he wanted. That bastard knew he was in the wrong, and he opted to not deal with it and hurt me. 

 

Then came a boyfriend, I was dating him when he was finishing the last two years of his Army reserves contract. He'd been on at least two tours overseas to Iraq when we were starting to invade Afghanistan. He saw some shit. He too has PTSD. He treated me like shit. Again, when I got a clear picture of his life, his military trauma had little to do with his hurting me. He had a shit childhood. Women were devalued.He didn't like to not be superior to whomever he dated. He wasn't used to a woman that didn't do drugs, or trade cigarettes for sex. Military trauma had fuck all to do with his hurting me. The night that fist sunk into the side of my face and made me black out? He had been drinking, and he wasn't moaning about his military days, he was wishing the world was more like fucking Mayberry..like that ever existed.  He knew what he did was wrong the instant he hit me because he then went in to panic mode and kept crying I was going to throw him in jail and he kept looking at his rifle in the corner of the living room. This was not military trauma. This was not a wounded vet. This was a man drunk and regretful for a line he crossed. I am not sure what Jennifer Smith's situation was like during the final moments, but I am damn sure I experienced some of it. I soothed my now ex-boyfriend. Told him it was my fault and he had nothing to worry about. How sorry I was for getting him so upset, and that I loved him so much and didn't mean anything I might have said. He eyed me so very quietly during those ten minutes. 

 

And he then immediately agreed it was my fault and not to ever cross him again. Tears were gone and he went on with his night like nothing had happened. He purposely scared me into thinking he was going to blow my head off. Worse, maybe he was seriously considering it just so he would avoid jail. He is terrified of that place. Fast forward 10 years. I kept the notion in my head for a long time it was the PTSD acting up that night, so though we never dated again a few months after the initial incident? I would still visit every now and then. Moved in for a short time to save up for a bigger place. Wouldn't you know, as soon as I wasn't giving him the attention he wanted ( a conversation of listening to him bitch all night about my daughter not being home at night (she's 22) and society and Mayberry), and I told him this wasn't something I wanted to hear. He was in my face in 10 seconds, fist drawn, and absolute mad dog murderous face ready to taste blood. 

 

That isn't military. That is a controlling piece of shit. He knows it is wrong what he does, but he still does it. I could go one, but I will just leave the picture I attached below from my last husband to say it all. This isn't just mental illness. This is cruel intentioned possessiveness. Like my last husband's messages he sent me when I left. I attached them to this blog .

 

 

At the end of the day, I don't know what Jennifer's life was like with Scott, but if she filed for divorce, and he kills her shortly after filing, I think we can assume there were some very dark moments going on if her husband then felt it was necessary to kill her. He possessed her very essence. Took away her will. I can't gloss this over as just mental illness in a sympathetic manner. He was definitely ill, and he knew better. I have little doubt of that from his own activism in our communities.

 

 

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