Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stressful times can lead to violence

I don’t like opening my newspaper anymore. And it’s not just because I am stuck reading the Seattle Times now that the P-I has switched to an online format. (I like my paper to be made of paper.) Or maybe that is the problem.

Following Sunday’s front page Graham slaying piece, the Times has continued to focus on a battery of violent crime. Are the state and country getting more violent or does my new newspaper play up the grisly? Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

In seven pages of yesterday’s local news section, I counted ten articles on violent crimes, most of them murders. Ten! Is this all that’s going on in Seattle? I feel like I am back at home in San Antonio where the daily murder roundup obscures the real news.

Then again, with seven mass murders nationwide in the last month alone, it appears that there is really something going on with the national psyche. Perhaps the crime wave in Washington is a reflection of deep uneasiness across the nation.

Job losses, home foreclosures and ugly headlines are frazzling people’s nerves. Since 24% of American households owns a handgun, it’s easy for people seething with stress to act on their worst impulses.

Using a gun to satisfy heated emotions is a quintessential American characteristic. I am reminded of a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence poster with these mortifying statistics:
In 2004, guns murdered 5 people in New Zealand
37 in Sweden
56 in Australia
73 in England and Wales
184 in Canada
And 11,344 in the United States
God bless America.
Yes, we’re bigger than those other countries, but not 62 times bigger, the difference between the number of American and Canadian deaths, the second largest number listed.

While most of us know that using a gun to work out our problems is a bad idea, we still might need help dealing with our own economic anxieties. Besides bailing out banks and car companies, the federal government is offering Americans “practical advice on how to deal with the effects financial difficulties can have on your physical and mental health.”

The government’s “Getting Through Tough Economic Times” website is a good place to start looking for help. Most importantly, it can connect you to support services in your area.

If you are experiencing any of these stress warning signs, consider learning some coping techniques or getting additional help.
  • Persistent Sadness/Crying
  • Excessive Anxiety
  • Lack of Sleep/Constant Fatigue
  • Excessive Irritability/Anger
  • Increased drinking
Even when things in your life are going well, stress is inevitable. Learning how to deal with it is an important key to a lifetime of good health.

Maybe a key to my own stress reduction is putting down the Seattle Times and logging on to a good progressive website instead.


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