I was in class tonight about 9:00 (Philosophy – World Religions) when my phone vibrated with a top headline from my USA Today app – “Ariel Castro Found Hanged in Prison Cell.” For those of you (like me, normally) who don’t pay much attention to news because I find it too depressing, Ariel Castro was convicted of kidnapping, and raping, over a decade ago , 3 women in Cleveland, Ohio. He fathered a child with one of them. They finally escaped when they were able to break part of a door and yelled for help. On August 1, 2013, Ariel was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years, prompting one of his victims, Michelle Knight (a young mother, who was lured into his house with the promise of a puppy for her young son and then held captive for 10 years, where she was impregnated five times and beaten so severely that she miscarried five times) to say “His hell is just beginning.” Well, apparently Ariel decided, for whatever reason, that he did not want to live any longer, so he hung himself in his cell and was found at 9:20 p.m. and pronounced dead at 10:52, thus ending his life at the age of 52.
Driving home from class, I had mixed emotions; part of me thought “yes, this is a good thing,” but immediately chided myself for that because, as a Christian, I believe that God loves every one and that it hurts Him to be separated from any of us. By his actions over the last decade, it’s pretty safe to assume he was “lost” to God. Whether or not he changed that situation after his sentencing is unknown at this time.
I followed this story pretty closely from the time it first broke when Amanda Berry managed to escape because in a way, I could relate to what those three women endured. Though I was never kidnapped, I grew up with an extremely abusive father (I found out many, many years later that he was not my biological father) and lived with that for over 20 years, before I was finally freed from that when he was put away. Therefore, I felt I could relate in someway to what these women went through as far as the abuse went.
On another level, with regard to his suicide, I could also relate to that as I lost my brother to suicide on August 1, 2012 and just under six months later, my niece tried to take her own life, initially failed, and then succumbed to complications and passed away just four days after that. In the aftermath of my brother’s suicide, I had mixed reactions from friends and family. Suicide is generally a “taboo” subject and those who take their own lives are often thought of as “crazy” or “cowards.” My brother was neither of those things. He was depressed, yes. But that is not the same as being “crazy” according to DSM-IV standards. Most people who take their lives do so because their pain is so bad at that time that they cannot see another way out of it. After my brother’s suicide, I found a quote that helped me “Suicide is not chosen. It occurs when one’s pain is greater than one’s resources to cope with that pain at that moment.” No one thinks of what will happen to their family and friends after that one last act, because they are not thinking clearly…if they were, they would still be here, working out their issues.
So I guess as I write this, I have finally decided not to concentrate so much on the suicide of Ariel Castro and whether he was a coward by taking his own life than serving out his sentence, but to concentrate instead on his family; his daughter Angie and son Anthony who not only have to deal with the fact that their father plead guilty to 927 criminal charges and will be forever known as a “monster,” but now they have lost their father. I don’t know what kind of relationship he had with his children, but both of his kids, went to the house to get some personal items before the house was torn down as part of his plea agreement. Nothing further can be done for Ariel, but I do hope and pray that at some point, his children will be able to make peace with this whole situation and move on with the rest of their lives. Hopefully, people will not hold this against them, as there is nothing to show that they had any idea of what was going on.
All in all this was a tragic end to a tragic situation and even though his victims may feel “robbed of justice” by this suicide, maybe in a way it will help them move past this and start a new chapter in their lives?