19 Yearold Stabs Himself in the Chest Repeatedly Before Live Audience

An Oregon audience at open mic night were shocked after applauding what they thought was performance art of a teen pretending to kill himself at the Strictly Organic Coffee Company.  It was not a performance, but a suicide.  After playing a song called “Sorry For All The Mess,” Kipp Rusty Walker repeatedly stabbed himself in the chest with a six-inch knife.

The suicide has raised questions of his treatment by state psychiatric authorities. 

One of Walker’s friends said that he had been planning to kill himself in a public place for some time: “It was almost like he wanted to prove a point, like there’s no point in being scared of death because it’s going to happen to us anyway.”  The friend reportedly told Walker’s parents who had him committed St Charles Medical Centre in Bend.  The friend is quoted as saying
“I actually told him, I was like, ‘Dude, this is going to mess a lot of people up.’”

Beyond the tragedy itself, there is a question of the responsibility of state officials and the coffee shop.  I believe the shop is not likely to face liability -assuming (as appears to be the case) that they had no reason to expect such an unforeseeable act.  It would be hard to establish the basis for a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim as an audience member.

The hospital could be more vulnerable if a reasonable doctor would not have released Walker.  However, again, such acts are hard to predict and make generally for a poor basis for legal action.

From a public policy perspective, however, there are increasing complaints over the treatment (and release) of potentially violent individuals.  It is a difficult balance for a state.  We have moved away from the large-scale institutionalization of the mentally ill.
After the Supreme Court handed down its decision in O’Connor v. Donaldson in 1975, states were ordered that they cannot involuntarily hold a person who is not imminently a danger to himself or others and able to survive on his own.  That decision ended abuses across the country and allowed mentally disabled individuals to have functional lives.  In any such case, there can be problems particularly if an individual does not receive or take necessary medication.

Source:  Daily Mail

Jonathan Turley


I copy-pasted the report as it is to avoid missing a certain point between the lines, or having to edit or re-write it all over again, but mainly, I wanted to focus on the incident, and the act of suicide, rather than who's to blame, or which direction to point fingers at.


So, I wanted to know your prospective of it all. What do you think of suicide? and of people who commit it? Do you consider contemplating suicide psychotic? And just what are your thoughts on this particular story?


I don't consider people who contemplate or even commit suicide psychotic. In fact, I think, maybe, they know too much... or just that they haven't found what keeps any of us from taking his/her own life, perhaps, a goal, a companion, or even a bunch of them.


I find the attitude people take towards suicide is similar to that of a believer to a non-believer, in a sense, that they think should be saved in the manner they see fit, which I find both very demeaning, and judgemental. Making up fairy-tales as a purpose to keep you from killing yourself is not very sane either.

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As a pretext of sorts:

I've only ever had one person who I'd consider myself to be "close" with commit suicide. Also, I consider the death of anyone something to be noticed, mourned, and accepted.

That being said, I've always sort of viewed suicide as a responsive act that can stem from two root "hopes" (here, "hopes" can be thought of as the motives for/aspirations in committing the act). The first, and perhaps the one most commonly portrayed in societal circles, I'd call the "hope of closure."

The "hope of closure" can be thought of as a motivational catalyst for an act of suicide committed by someone anticipating an end to this physical life, more-often-than-not stemming from feelings of discontent, disappointment, manic feelings of hopelessness, and of course, isolation rooted in fear of the external world. Not to insult anyone or downplay the death of any being, but this is the sort of suicide "Degrassi" would do an episode about. Feel me? These suicides are common among adolescents, or basically, anyone of any age who feels confused/abandoned in their own life. I would consider the loss of my friend a "hope of closure" suicide.

The second classification I would call the "hope for redemption." This type of suicidal act addresses the particular matter at hand. These types of suicides can be thought of as martyrdoms of sorts; in essence, those who commit suicide with the "hope for redemption" feel as though they have trumped the fear of death in this life, or perhaps, have come to such a level of acceptance with the matter of death that the idea of leaving their physical body does nothing more than generate a "who gives a shit?" sort of response. This suicide I would consider to be rooted in defiance; an act plunging into the unknown with hopes for redemption after the person committing the act has given themself over to the idea that they are no longer able to progress the wisdom of humanity any further by any act other than that of taking their own life. In other words, it’s the ultimate “fuck you.” While perhaps more "valiant" than the first categorization, it's important to remember that someone is still taking his or her own life.

As for my personal views, I'm an agnostic who believes that those born to this earth are lucky (yes, I'm still pro-choice) and thus, should live a life of personal, honest fulfillment. I'm not talking about a life of superficial sanctity/ materialism, but basically, more of a Taoist/wu wei sort of approach. As Chiam Potok writes in his novel The Chosen (I’m paraphrasing here) ‘a life is not given a meaning. We must give it one.’

So basically, yeah. While I’m saddened by this dude’s choice to kill himself, and I think these responses have thoroughly condemned his “audience” for their presumed feelings of apathy, I guess I have to say that I respect his choice. After all, it’s his life to give a meaning to. Right?


I don't know your age nor is it important. As one goes through life and survives the ravages of time and experience you will be wiser and hopefully a little less cynical.

@ Dustin

"My level of empathy is also extremely low.  I don't really care much about adults..."

I hope you can live and learn to care equally for all fellow humans irregardless of their age, race, etc. American society has changed much in my lifetime for instance. I would of never thought in my wildest imagination that the state of Oregon would be compelled to adopt legislation that requires Oregonians to 'stop and assist' those in trouble or injured. Evidently you're not the only one with an extremely low level of empathy. My question is why have we developed as a society to be unconcerned about the plight of a stranger?

People should be aware of Good Samaritan laws. Being a good samaritan without such a law can be a risky business. In a state like Oregon which has one, a person can assist someone in need if they are not expecting to be paid for doing so and if it is not within the sphere of their expertise.

In other words, if you're not particularly qualified to give aid, you're pretty insulated from lawsuits resulting from the failure of your efforts. On the other hand, if you're a doctor, EMT, nurse, First Aid instructor or someone else whose normal job involves such work or where you're being paid in the emergency situation (you're "on the job" at the emergency), you can be sued in case things don't work out well for the victim.

Years ago, I knew an MD, who did medical research into artificial hearts. After getting out of a plane, walking through an airport, he saw a crowd of people standing around a man who was having a heart attack. People were yelling "Is there a doctor anywhere here?" He felt the man was very likely to die (instant triage) and that if he identified himself as a doctor and tried to assist, there was a good chance of a lawsuit given that he had an MD degree. Even though he was legally justified, it bothered him. He walked away not just to protect himself but his wife and children as well.


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