Why do so many activists commit suicide?
Kate Raphael

It’s the headline that got my attention: Why do so many activists commit suicide? and my immediate thought was Because they are so angry. When the cause no longer exists, they have no reason for being. This is why so many causes are threatened by the very solutions they propose. Once the conflict is resolved, there’s no place to point their anger. It is either, find another cause, or cease to exist.

But your article raised a question I don’t believe has been asked. For decades we have been wondering what exactly prompts a terrorist to act? What prompts a person to strap explosives to his body and detonate? What prompts an angry teenager to open fire in a classroom? They have no reason to be.

Their anger is funneled into a cause, and as long as there is a cause, there is someone to blame and someone to protest against. Terrorists too have a cause, and like suicidal activists, when they have no reason to live, they die for what they deem important.

Roughly 10 years ago, I was attacked and my shoulder was dislocated as I was entering an abortion clinic where I was a volunteer. I wasn’t seriously injured, merely shaken, but what I remember the most was the anger and judgement with which my attacker threw me on the ground. He, the activist, was right, and I was wrong. He the judge, and I guilty of violating his code of ethics.

Perhaps its a stretch to compare an angry activist to a terrorist, because in our culture, activism is still deemed a worthy endeavor. After all, if it wasn’t for activism, this country wouldn’t be what it is today. But I shudder when I think how close some activists are to violence. If they didn’t have the cause to direct their anger through, many would just be angry mobs taking their aggressions out against those who disagree.