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Did the Stigma of Poverty Drive This Couple to Suicide?


Did the Stigma of Poverty Drive This Couple to Suicide?

Greg Kaufmann

Jodi and Randy Speidel, a couple in their mid-40s, taped a note to the front door of their one-bedroom rental home warning visitors of carbon monoxide. They let their three cats outdoors and wrote a note attesting that their next decision was a mutual one. Then, in their locked bedroom, they lit two charcoal grills and committed suicide.


Not far from this myself but my wife and I are fortunate to have community. What is vital is the recognition that as personal as this feels, it is all to common – we’ve been robbed and are the refuse of a criminal system. As I wrote in the Blue Collar Review –

I know a bright, talented, warm
young man you would have loved
who couldn’t find work
who finally gave up
taking his own life
just a few days ago

I’m carrying this around like
a hot stone
in my chest because,
having been there I know
it could just as well be me
and may yet –
and neither of us are alone in this.

Our opportunities, our pride
our self image have been stolen from us
and squandered by venal
self-serving creeps at AIG, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and
Goldman Sachs. Our lives,
our manhood – and our womanhood
have been taken by ravenous corporatists and
the politicians who serve them
and we are left
to do degrading shit-work for nothing if even that –
to beg and scavenge, nesting where we can
or to keep our last bit of self respect
and independence
by killing ourselves.

My anger and grief are epic
and my tears are not enough
My hands want to find
the throat of the beast that is killing us
and put an end to it but
I can’t do it alone

This poem isn’t about that young man
It’s about me, about you
about all of us.

   Al Markowitz


Suicide rates, like racism increase in sync with income and resource inequality.

As the corporations and politicians continue to systematically accelerate income and resource inequality suicide rates will continue to rise. Obama’s TTP and TTIP will be some of the biggest drivers for an increase in suicides that we have ever seen.


Although Mr. Kaufmann gets at some of the nuances of what may be termed stigma in his article, the headline is misleading. It was not the stigma of poverty that drove them to suicide. No, it was the cruel reality of poverty that did it.


There are some people I know that I would like to send this story and information to so that they could stick it up their asses. This one person I know is quite well off and she told me that she and her husband worked very hard for what they have. She thinks my situation is “unique” to me and that if I wanted anything then I and all of the other bums should go out and get a job or move to Denmark. Her ignorance is paramount to her survival.


If our media–no longer belonging to the public, and all 3 branches of govt. were not beholden to the 1%, a transaction tax on Wall St trades could lead to a trust fund that would be tapped by persons like those reduced to suicide since all humane available options seem closed off to them.

In an earlier robber-baron style “nobles versus serfs” era, the notion that God showed his favor on those who were good–as apparent by their prosperous conditions–was also widely circulated. By this inverted logic (that is, if Christ’s actual teaching were to mean anything to official Christianity), the poor also deserve their fate.

It’s essentially a financial version of “Divine Right of King.” And since our government–increasingly along with much of the rest of the world --is in the hands of the very rich (who can thereby purchase politicians and policy), their capture of media allots them the perfect venue through which to once more dust off Calvinism, and repackage it for “sale.”


You always leave out “the other team.” Curious… first, because both parties work for the same owners; and secondly, because lots of suicides are a direct result of the Bush Junta’s false flag trigger for all war, all the time… and the soldiers left broken by policies of senseless destruction and despair. Add THAT to your partisan suicide list.


Why set up an either-or competitive frame? BOTH are contributing factors.


Maybe it is government policy to get the poor to commit suicide.
As you know, the majority believe that if you are poor, you did not work hard enough!


Stories like this are not surprising that we now live in Reagan’s World where its basically winner take all and everyone else can go to hell. The worst thing you can call a person in our society today is LOSER.


yet we have people that insist that there “nothing wrong” with the 80 people in the world having more wealth then half the worlds population and who suggest were it not for the benevolence of these 80 people “creating jobs” everyone would go hungry.

We have people who insist that Government should not tax the wealthy or redistribute wealth and who insist that the Charity of those better off can feed and cloth all and provide them with health care.

The SYSTEM we call Capitalism or any system that allows for such inequalities in wealth wherein some people can not even afford drinking water or food or to heat their homes as others eat a hot dog that costs 2300$$ or eat Ice cream cones flaked with gold dust so that their own feces is deemed to be worth more then another person can earn in a week is a SICK and corrupt system and any that defend it are the same.


As a non-beliiever, I’m constantly amazed at the way ‘god’ is supposed to be responsible for all sorts of nasty things… Earthquakes, tsunamis etc are called “acts of god”. And poverty is clearly “god’s will” - a very convenient belief, if you’re rich.
From this it’s only a short step to a culture of blaming the “undeserving poor”, stigmatizing them for being feckless,lazy, good-for-nothing layabouts, shirkers and scroungers.Similarly in India,where thousands of poor ( tenant/share-criopping) farmers have been driven to kill themselves, and an Agriculture Minister says that farmers who commit suicide are “cowards and criminals”!. (NB TIME just did an in-deptth piece on Mr Modi the Prime Minister - and never even mentioned this.)
As I se it, this culture of blaming individuals who fall on hard times and labels them as greedy / lazy, is a very convenient way of dividing the working class It’s a divisive outlook,just as racism and nationalism are divisive…
When we take up this attitude, we forget that the whole capitalist production for profit ,system is one which works to enrich the 1% by the hard work of the 99% - those that Robert Tressell called “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”.


Thank you.

God DAMN capitalism - destroyer of all that is human. When will be rise up and send it to hell?


Austerity economics is euthanasia from beyond range.


This story has hit very close to home. The fact is, the living conditions are almost the same. I have had no heat for two winters now, and I guess that somehow makes me a lazy bum. I have money, but that is for the basics and for putting on a show so that the neighbors do not guess. At least my bills all are all paid every month.

I would not have what little I have if I had not been so careful. And the show must go on for the neighbors or these ignorant people would rise up with their pitchforks and torches and have me removed. Their fricken green lawns are more important than my being able to live in dignity.

However, if the drought worsens….and it will. Then they can start worrying about having water to drink, or to wash with. This is already happening to people in Detroit, and that was contrived as a profit-making venture, but do you think the rest of the country is aware of this? No.

Twenty years ago, I started looking at our politics. I used to blame myself for my not “getting ahead.” To be blunt, I guess I thought I was not smart enough to find another man to marry me and to TAKE care of me. I was too damn busy working two jobs to cajole and cater to (or rather screw) every man that got in my face. Why do you think other women make such fools of themselves? They must get a man in order to survive. Women’s pay has never been equal to that of a man’s, and women do not give sex to get love, they give sex to get “security,” and men nowadays are having enough trouble just getting a decent paying job.

Then I finally realized that it was not me but the unjust policies put into place in this country that were harming not just me but everyone else. It was a teaching moment for me. My taxes were making the rich richer and it showed me that it is better to lie than to tell the truth, and that is also what our children are seeing and learning.

Telling the truth has only gotten me into trouble……but look at how lies have enriched those on Wall Street. The bigger the lie the richer you become. However, just try to sell a cigarette on a street corner and you will get a police bullet in your back.

They, and you know who THEY are, they have convinced the majority of the people in this country that it is the “poor” who are responsible for their own problems. Racism, sexism these are just other ways to encouraged divisions and keep people from the truth and at each other’s throats.

Not to belabor the point but if people in this country insist on supporting the lies about the causes of poverty in this country and that somehow it is the fault of the poor then eventually it is going to take us all down.

Even my ability to communicate is being compromised. It is not the computer or the modem. Yes, I use a modem. My provider has been very helpful but it has not helped my connection with the Internet. My budget will not allow me to ante up or pay more for a wireless connection. If you cannot afford the ‘fast-lane’, stay off the freeway.

So what do we do now? Do we continue to let the Dark Lords of this country herd us into the ‘boxcars’ of their choice, or do we fight back?

Yes, we are our bother’s keepers.



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Thinking about this article some more, I have come to the conclusion that a much more admirable action the Speidels could have done, rather than committing suicide, would be to have taken up robbing banks.


I agree–we are our brother and sister’s keepers–as a society. People should not be forced to rely on charities, churches or the generosity of their neighbors. We (as a society) have the means to provide a decent living for everyone. A rational society would do so. Therein lies the rub.


Well, already in 1950 --65 years ago-- Wright Mills found that 81% of the wealthy grew up in wealth. And things have got worse since then. So, the percentage of those who acquired their wealth through their own work is less than 19%!

It probably approaches zero, since very few of the wealthy are artists, authors, actors, athletes, or members of the few other groups who get their wealth by their own personal creativity and labor.