Courts and media blame death metal for suicide again

by Brett Stevens
April 19, 2013 –

truman_edley-death_metal-suicideWe have a problem in this world of respecting people’s choices too much. That is, they choose to lead a dysfunctional life, and disaster results. Then we go looking for scapegoats.

Our courts and media tend to like to blame heavy metal if they can. When the Columbine shootings were news, we heard all about how the shooters loved heavy metal. Other shooters also got profiled with the “heavy metal test.” In 1996, candidate Bob Dole even mentioned Rotting Christ as a sign of our country’s decline.

When Judas Priest went to trial in the early 1990s for the suicide of two kids, the courts and media focused on heavy metal. They did not focus on the broken homes, alcoholism, teenage drug abuse, previous suicidal behavior and outright misery of these people; that would be criticizing their choices. Instead, the courts and media chose to blame an outside force, heavy metal. That way, no one was to blame. That way, we can keep making stupid decisions and pay only money for them, and not think we might be the guilty parties endangering ourselves.

Truman Edley, 15, took his own life in November 2011. At the inquest we were told, as tabloid and social gadfly the Daily Mail reveals, the “schoolboy killed himself after listening to death metal on his iPod.” The coroner “refused to name the band he was listening to or publish the extreme lyrics which formed part of the evidence,” which reminds me of one classic band’s disclaimer, “lyrics too brutal to print!”

However, a more detailed view reveals the following addition details: he was prone to self-harm, his parents were divorced, and he had low self-esteem. God (or Satan) forbid that those factors might have been the biggest influence on his mental state, and that he might have sought death metal in addition to his regular music listening — both sources agree he mainly listened to regular rock and pop — to express those dark and horrible feelings. Another source tells us that Truman’s mother had him at age 18, and that he’d recently “seemed more withdrawn,” in addition to his enjoyment of social media and video games, other favorite media targets. Friends have set up a tribute page for Mr. Edley.

It would be too much for us to honor this teenager’s memory by looking into the source of his misery, which looks like it lies mostly with decisions made by his parents, himself and/or the society around him. Instead, we are given the cheap shot and easy answer, which is to blame the music that was playing on his iPod while he hung himself.

It looks better in the news that way, and we don’t have to face the unsettling fact that we might be acting in such a way to guarantee more such suicides. Just ban heavy metal instead; that way, we keep on doing what we’ve been doing and can brush Truman Edley and those like him from our memories.

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5 comments

  • Sweden rules, Posers drool

    What a POSER! Dissection’s front man killed himself because his band was never that good and the last one sucked ass! This kid was probably listening to that POSER lame metal like Dark Tranquility. Nicke Andersson made questionable albums but he’s still alive and well because LEFT HAND PATH stands the test of time. Real metal is not listened to on IPods! Windows 98 and Altars of Madness = I’M STILL ALIVE. Apple products and Fear Factory = YOU DIE.

  • Sweden rules, Posers drool

    Before anyone mentions it, I know the original Nihilist bass player committed suicide but lets look at the facts. He moved to Canada (that aint SWEDEN!) in 1990 and he probably heard the POSER Voivod album angel Rat. Those are legitimate reasons.

  • Dave

    Haha I’ve never heard someone try and out metal someone else by saying that “Real Metal” (whatever that is) shouldn’t be listened to on Ipods. You guys made my day. Hilarious.

  • Theblackmeat

    Now, now. Maybe he was listening to Metal on his iPod because his Gramophone was broken.