This article appeared in the Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa, on
The main editorial on Monday, Aug. 16, reflects on the end of the world. Instead of the high drama, I want to make it more individual and personal. Fractional suicide is more evident to me. I first heard the term in 1971 while training in an alcohol treatment unit in Iowa City.
Fractional suicide begins with denial, our first and major defensive mechanism. When a person denies they have a problem they begin putting nails in their coffin. For the alcoholic liver failure is the final nail.
The phenomenon can be moved to other life experiences. As an emergency room chaplain, I don’t know how many times I heard the gasp for air and then, “Oh, no!” as they heard the worst news. Denial begins. Sometime during my 28 years as a chaplain I read “Psychological Autopsy,” which asks the question “when does a person begin to die?” Some are beginning to die when they refuse COVID vaccines, threatening their own lives and others.
My father taught me directly by being unable to accept the loss of the family farm in 1938. He died at 57 of a heart attack. I was too young to understand what I know now. Learning to live with loss is part of becoming a mature adult. Life is a series of descent/ascent experiences. (Losing something precious, grieving the loss and learning how to live again). This applies to politicians and political parties as well. Denial of evident truths is how fractional suicide begins.
Marlin Whitmer, BCC
Retired hospital chaplain, that is, if you can every retire from pastoral issues.