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Sunday, October 09, 2005

OU Shrink: "This Was No Quiet Suicide"

OU "Suicide Bomber" Joel Henry Hinrichs III died Oct. 1 within less than 100 yards of 84,000 people watching the Sooners play Kansas State at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium when the bomb strapped to his body and made of "Mother of Satan" detonated. OU President David Boren and the FBI contend Hinrichs acted alone, suffered mental problems and intended only to hurt himself.

Now comes today's Daily Oklahoman with this shocker from a retired OU psychiatry professor Dr. Gordon H. Deckert of the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City: Hinrichs' suicide "was a planned event ... not a sudden impulse." Added Deckert: "Hinrichs wanted to call attention to himself ... this was no quiet suicide."

(Does the professor's last observation call to mind a certain crude aphorism involving Sherlock Holmes?)

What Deckert doesn't explain is why of the approximately 30,000 people who kill themselves every year in this country, Hinrichs is the first one EVER to do it the way Hinrichs did it, assuming that he did it purposely and with the sole intention of ending his own life.

Because he is the only one, Hinrichs is what statisticians call an "extreme outlier." That means he cannot be explained by the conventional factors that describe characteristics of the remaining 29,999 suicides that occur on average in this country each year.

And that, as much as this long-time reader of the Oklahoman hates to admit it, is why the newspaper's article - which quotes only three experts, all of whom appear to agree with the lone suicide explanation - is essentially worthless.

This story quotes "local experts" but avoids addressing the most vital question - why would a college kid with no adult criminal record decide to kill himself with a bomb made of the same highly volatile chemical that is first choice of Middle Eastern terrorist bombers and do it in a spot that had he lived only a few more minutes would have put him during halftime in the midst of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people, many of whom would be maimed or killed in the subsequent explosion?

Bottom Line: The typical suicide's profile simply cannot account for the Hinrichs death, so an explanation must be sought elsewhere.

UPDATE:

Remember Patrick Purdy? No, I didn't either, but Eric Scheie of Classical Values does. He digs out this quote from Time magazine about the guy who shot up a California school in 1989:

"The gunman drove his Chevrolet station wagon to the rear of Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, Calif. He stepped out, carrying a Chinese-made semiautomatic AK-47 rifle loaded with 75 bullets.
"Carved into the AK-47's stock were disconnected words: 'freedom,' 'victory,' 'Hezbollah.' He wore a flak jacket under a camouflage shirt jacket that bore other words, one misspelled: 'PLO,' 'Libya,' 'death to the Great Satin.'
"He had placed plugs in his ears to dull the sounds of what he was about to do. Patrick Purdy, 26, a drifter with guerrilla-warfare fantasies, had returned to the school ..."

Scheie, who is a graduate of the first Media Bloggers Association Database 101/201 Computer-Assisted Research and Reporting Boot Camp at BlogNashville May 5-6 this year, lays out an incisive series of questions comparing Purdy with OU "Suicide Bomber" Joel Hinrichs. What if Hinrichs had used an AK-47 instead of an explosive made with "Mother of Satan," the preferred chemical of Middle East terrorist bombers? Go here for the complete post.