Friday, July 25, 2008

Suicides and foreclosures

Suicide. The taking of one's own life. Unless a person is seriously mentally ill, a person has to feel absolutely miserable to do such a thing.

The current economic crisis, the foreclosures, have the power to produce such human misery.

Your home is your sanctuary, the place to where you run when the world becomes too crazy for a little while, or when you're sad, or when you are just tired and need to rest. Or when you want to be with loved ones. A person's home is full of their memories, their hopes and dreams.

Visiting my family's home in Worcester, Massachusetts, I'm often overwhelmed by memories: Here is the room where, for many years, my family would gather to celebrate Christmas, and where my sister and myself would find the gifts that "Santa" left. Here is the kitchen where my family would eat every night. Or here's the living room, where every birthday, first communion or confirmation (my mother was very Catholic), every Thanksgiving was celebrated with dozens of relatives on hand. Out on the patio are memories of many Independence Day celebrations, and the fun of making our own show of (illegal, imported from New Hampshire) fireworks. There are sad memories as well: The living room is the place where my mother lost a battle with cancer; it was the room where she was confined for months before, and where the priest came to hear her last confession. It is also the room where the whole family shed our tears at her passing.

I can't imagine how horrified I would be were the house to be taken away by some sleazy, greed-soaked mortgage company. I can understand what drove Carlene Balderrama, 53, over the brink.

Also from Massachusetts, but in the metropolitan Boston town of Taunton, she sent a message to her mortgage company saying that they'd take the house over her dead body. She then took her own life with her husband's shotgun. Her suicide note's instructions? Use her life insurance money to pay for the house.

Expert psychiatrists, according to the Boston press, say that, without the end of the foreclosure crisis in sight, there are likely to be more and more suicides as people realize they simply can't bear having their homes taken.

These financial crises, reported in business sections of newspapers as arcane financial matters, have the power to destroy people's hopes and dreams. The federal government has to do something, quickly, to fix the mess these banks have gotten us into--and in the process save a lot of lives.

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