05 February 2010


A follow-up to yesterday's post regarding the abuse and eventual death of a four-month old kitten -- today's Missoulian reports that the alleged animal abuser was indeed approached by police yesterday with a felony arrest warrant charging aggravated animal cruelty, at the man's home. After refusing to answer the door, he apparently took his own life. Police heard a single shot, called for backup, and the responding SWAT team discovered his body.

The man had a long history of clinical depression, possibly compounded by additional mental illness. He apparently led a solitary, isolated life.

I'm feeling sobered by the news, and saddened that the man's condition wasn't apparent to the animal shelter which allowed him to adopt the kitten. It is one thing to call for retributive or rehabilitative justice if the perpetrator is relatively mentally healthy. It is quite another matter when the individual is struggling with mental or emotional illness, the depth and extent of which we will never know.

This incident strikes a chord in me, because about ten years ago I lost a close friend to suicide. He too, was a recluse -- an intellect bordering on genius, artistically creative, but socially awkward. He was one of my two best friends in high school. We lost contact after graduation, and had resumed mail contact only months before he died. The details of his death are tragic, and out of respect for his memory I shall not recount them here, except to say that I'll always wish I'd rediscovered him sooner. The thought lingers that I could have helped him, could have been someone to turn to in his hour of direst need. Once again, we will never know.

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