‘No motive for the deed is known, as he was wealthy and popular.’
Reporting of long ago can seem…a bit, well, simplistic, can’t it? As in, what was the reporter’s thought process? Wealth? Check. Popularity? Check. So what was this Shrock fellow’s problem? What else could there have been to life?
This is from a 1903 New York Times article. Shrock, whatever his troubles may have been, was a rarity among his people. Suicide does happen among the Amish. But it seems to be less common than among the general population.
Happiness research has become trendy of late. If I had to put in my own two cents, based on what I’ve heard and observed, I’d say there are probably worse environments to spend a childhood than in a typical Amish home. And for that matter, adult Amish I’ve spoken with generally seem satisfied with their lot, despite the trials of living in the culture.
Sometimes I do sense a measure of discontent when talking with an Amish adult, for whatever reason. Yet I often hear that an Amish upbringing is the best way for a child to grow up, usually expressed with decided conviction. The Amish enjoy strong family bonds and a close extended community. There are benefits that counter the challenges.
That’s not to paint the Amish as living untroubled lives. The Amish experience mental illness as non-Amish do. There are centers devoted to mental care of the Amish and related peoples, which take into account their faith and lifestyle. And of course there are always exceptional situations.
But in a community with such a firm religious and familial focus, with nearly 100% employment, low alcohol and drug use, and marked by a strong sense of identity, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me the average Amishman was at least as happy as his non-Amish counterpart. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that many Amish report being content with their lives. Or that we perceive them as such.
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There is a very interesting story here that goes way beyond the NY Times article. It involves a series of suicides by three Amish men who had been friends. My grandfather lived just down the road from the Schrocks and was sent down to see what was going on because they could hear a commotion. He found a suicide note. There is an Amish legend about what happened that caused these men to commit suicide. My brother has tried to track down verification of it; has been able to confirm parts of it but not other parts of it. Regarding Amish suicides in general, I had an uncle (by marriage) who suffered from depression and committed suicide when he was in his 60s. In his immediate family, there were several brothers who also suffered from severe depression, and I believe there was at least one other attempt.
Unfortunately, depression and other mental illness can and does strike anyone. It doesn’t care how nurtured and loved you are and sadly, it can cause suicide.
Crockhead thanks for sharing the story. It seems there can be a familial predisposition for depression and suicide–among humans everywhere.
Turns out I had the wrong story. The Schrock suicide was a different one than the one my grandfather told about.