Sunday, April 19, 2020

April 19th Again: Nova Scotia's Mass Shooting

The high school photograph of Nova Scotia's mass shooter.

For several years I have written of this time of year as a "red zone of danger." I even mentioned the temporal syndrome associated with late April's infamous events in The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow's Headlines.

During the morning of April 19, 2020, I tweeted a message about recalling today as a date with multiple anniversaries of note: the original Patriots Day of the Revolutionary War due to the battles at Concord and Lexington. The events of Waco and the Oklahoma City Bombing on this date.

I posted images of the Boym Design's two "Buildings of Disaster" for Waco and OKC's Murrah Building.

I have pointed to my extensive listing of violence and deaths tied to this last half of several Aprils in past blog postings, including "The Most Dangerous Time of Year," from 2018, and "The Red Zone of April: A Dangerous Time."

In that piece, I review these events for

April 19:

1775 – Battles of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. This is the actual anniversary of the battles, even though the observance has become a date tied to the third Monday in April.
1897 – First running of the Boston Marathon, with marathons named after the Greek Battle of Marathon.
1993 – The 51-day FBI siege of the Branch Davidian building outside Waco, Texas, USA, ends when a fire breaks out. Eighty-one people die.
1993 – South Dakota governor George Mickelson and seven others are killed when a state-owned aircraft crashes in Iowa.
1995 – Oklahoma City bombing: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, USA, is bombed, killing 168.
1995 – Richard Wayne Snell, a convicted murderer, member of the white supremacist group The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), is executed in Arkansas. Snell was involved in filming the planes that landed at the restricted airport in Mena, Arkansas, believed by many conspiracy theorists to be used in a CIA-sanctioned cover-up to smuggle drugs into America. Snell had been accused of plotting to bomb the Murrah Building in the 1980s. Snell reportedly watched televised reports of the Oklahoma City bombing on the day of his execution and nodded in approval.
2013 – Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is killed in a shootout with police. His brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is captured while hiding in a boat inside a backyard in Watertown, Massachusetts.

April 20:

1889 – Adolf Hitler, Austrian-German soldier and politician, Chancellor of Germany (d. 1945) is born
1939 – Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday is celebrated as a national holiday in Nazi Germany.
1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.
1961 – Failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of US-backed Cuban exiles against Cuba.
1971 – According to Steven Hager, editor of High Times, he found the term 420 originated at San Rafael High School in 1971, among the Waldos. They would meet every day after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana at the Louis Pasteur statue. One of the Waldos notes, "We did discover we could talk about getting high in front of our parents without them knowing by using the phrase 420." By extension now, April 20 ("4/20" in U.S. dating shorthand) has evolved into a counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.
1978 – Korean Air Lines Flight 902 is shot down by the Soviet Union.
1999 – Columbine High School massacre: Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed 13 people and injured 21 others before dying by suicide at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.
2007 – Johnson Space Center shooting: William Phillips with a handgun barricades himself in NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas before killing a male hostage and himself.
2015 – A substitute teacher was killed at the Joan Fuster School in the La Sager neighborhood of Barcelona, Spain, by a 13-year-old student with a crossbow and machete. Four other people were injured.

Now on April 19, 2020

Therefore, today, Sunday, April 19, 2020, we should not be surprised to learn that a mass shooting has occurred.

From Saturday through Sunday, for 12 hours, a gunman drove across the northern part of the province of Nova Scotia shooting people dead. Canadian police, as of Sunday night, said at least 16 people were dead, plus the gunman too. On Monday morning, during the COVID19 government news conference, the prime minister said a total of 19 people had died.

One of the dead was a police officer and another was injured. The dead officer has been identified as Heidi Stevenson, a mother of two and a 23-year-old veteran of the force.

The victims identified so far, besides RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year member of the national police force, and a mother of two, are Debert Elementary school teacher Lisa McCully; care assistant Kristen Beaton; and Heather O’Brien, a nurse from Truro. Additionally, two correctional officers and two neighbors of the gunman, were all killed in their homes.

Altogether, including the shooter, twenty-three (23) people died in the shooting.

The gunman was named as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, who died after shooting people in several locations across the province. He was described as white male, bald, 6'2" - 6'3" with green eyes.

The shooting reportedly began in the small Atlantic coastal town of Portapique, about 130km north (80 miles) of Halifax, the provincial capital. It ended Sunday, April 19, at a gas station in Enfield. Online records show Wortman ran a denture clinic in the city of Dartmouth, across the water from Halifax.

One local resident said she had come across two burning police vehicles while out driving on Sunday morning. One man said he saw at least three separate fires.

“There was one officer we could see on scene and then all of a sudden, he went running toward one of the burning vehicles,” Darcy Sack told the CBC.

“We heard gunshots,” she said, adding that one police officer looked to have been injured.Authorities said Wortman was driving what appeared to be a police car and was wearing a uniform but later reported he was at the wheel of a Chevrolet sports utility vehicle that had been modified to resemble a white RCMP vehicle – “one that he has basically made himself,” said Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation. Police have said the suspect was not an employee or officer with the RCMP.

There was on difference between Wortman's car and the official RCMP vehicles: the car #. The suspect's car is 28B11, behind rear passenger window.

“In excess of 10 people have been killed,” RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said, before later revising the total to “at least 13.” “We believe it to be one person who is responsible for all the killings and that he alone moved across the northern part of the province and committed what appears to be several homicides.”

Please note, in high school, Wortman said his "future may include being an RCMP officer."

Name game: "Wortman" = a grower or seller of vegetables or of medicinal herbs and spices.


RCMP's fallen Heidi Stevenson is to be remembered on Friday, April 24, 2020.

April 20, 2020

What will Monday, April 20th begat?

In 2015, Mother Jones mentioned the high number of "copycats" associated with Columbine. In The Copycat Effect, I tracked over 400 in the month after the April 20, 1999 Columbine shooting.

The cult of Hitler's birthday and Columbine travel forth into the future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Kennedy Resonator Deaths: Early 2020

On December 19, 2019, I wrote a year-ending list, "JFK Resonator Obituaries of 2019."

Examining the foundation terminology, this observation was shared:
A resonator (first used in 1869) is a device or system that exhibits resonance or resonant behavior, which naturally oscillates with greater amplitude at some frequencies, called resonant frequencies, than at other frequencies.

Resonator is often defined as a device used to make something (such as a musical instrument) louder. Can individuals be defined as "resonators" that call forth more attention to a specific event? Certainly.
In April 2019, cryptokubologist Alex Fulton began using "resonator" in Twitter. In August 2019, Fulton clarified his use of "resonator" with a modified human-aligned definition pointing to a person who has a greater amplifying effect on a specific event ~ often related to the JFK assassination. (His graphic is above.)

JFK/RFK Resonator Deaths

As 2020 dawned, while #JFK resonator deaths were on the scene again, what became evident was an increase in the #RFK resonator events too, in a landscape overwhelmed by COVID19 deaths.

Here's a chronological look at the occurrences of the first few months of the year.

January 2020

American mountaineer of Dutch origins, Dee Molenaar, 101, died, on January 19, 2020, in Burlington, Washington State. He was born June 21, 1918. Along with "Big Jim" Jim Whittaker and Robert F. Kennedy, he was a member of the 1965 climb and first ascent of Mount Kennedy in the Yukon, named after John F. Kennedy.

Mickey Wapner, the widow of "People's Court" Judge Joseph Wapner, dies at 94, on January 22, 2020. She held senior positions in the campaigns of Kennedy for President in 1960, Brown for Governor in 1962, Salinger (JFK's brother-in-law) for Senate in 1964, Kennedy for President in 1968, and McGovern for President in 1972.

February 2020

Maria Louise Moessen, 64, born on February 19, 1956, died at her North Carolina home on February 29, 2020. She survived nearly two years with pancreatic cancer. The Internet Movie Database credits her as actress Maria Mason in JFK (1991), in the role of Jim Garrison’s secretary.

Dancer and choreographer Harry Woolever, born August 17, 1929, died February 12, 2020, at 90, in Montoursville, New York. Among a lifetime of dance performances, on January 31, 1963, he was part of a dance group of eight people who participated in a dance for President John F. Kennedy in Washington, D.C. That show was later broadcast on national TV.

March 2020

Known as the photographer of RFK's assassination, Boris Yaro died March 11, 2020 at the age of 81. His obituary brought to my attention the deaths of other witnesses to RFK's assassination: Busboy Juan Romero died October 1, 2018. The 17-yr-old volunteer Irwin Stroll, who was shot at the RFK site, died at 43 of AIDS, on February 16, 1995.

Peter Hardin Jackson, 53, son of the late U.S. Sen. Henry "Scoop" M. Jackson, died Saturday evening, March 21, 2020, in Seattle. He had been an editorial writer.  His father, Senator Jackson had been JFK's first choice for Vice-President. 

In Peter Jackson's Everett, Washington Herald obituary, the following story was shared:
Bob Ferguson, Washington’s attorney general, met Jackson when they were UW undergraduates. On Monday [March 23, 2020], Ferguson recalled walking into Jackson’s room back then and seeing a picture of Robert Kennedy with a young child. Ferguson wondered which Kennedy child it was — but soon learned it was Peter Jackson as a boy.

On March 27, 2020, Bob Dylan shared his first new track in eight years. “Murder Most Foul” is a 17-minute song about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It almost immediately went to #1.

April 2020

Maeve Kennedy McKean (née Townsend; November 1, 1979 – April 2, 2020) was an American public health official, human rights attorney, and academic. She served as the Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative at Georgetown University. A member of the Kennedy family, she was a granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy and a grandniece of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

On April 2, 2020, McKean and her eight-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean, went missing while paddling in a canoe near McKean's mother's waterfront residence in Shady Side, Maryland. McKean had taken her family to Maryland to stay in quarantine during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Reports from the Maryland Natural Resources Police say they were attempting to retrieve a kickball that had landed in the water. Due to high winds, they were swept further out into the Chesapeake Bay. Fire officials from Anne Arundel County received an emergency call at 4:30 PM that day from a man who reported seeing a woman and her son, presumably the McKeans, in a small canoe near the community pier at Columbia Beach. McKean and her son were last sighted ten miles south of Annapolis, near Herring Bay. Marine units from the Queen Anne's County Police Department, Anne Arundel County Police Department, Maryland State Police, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, as well as the United States Coast Guard, searched the Chesapeake by boat and helicopter. Natural Resources Police reported that an overturned canoe was found around 7:00 PM on April 3, 2020, near Rockhold Creek in Deale. Later that night, after twenty-six hours, the Coast Guard suspended its search. At 7:30 PM, Maryland officials called off the search due to darkness. As of April 3, 2020, she and her son were presumed dead. On April 4, 2020, the search was resumed by Maryland police.
McKean and her son's disappearance has been referred to in the media as part of the "Kennedy curse", a series of deaths, accidents, and other calamities involving the family.
McKean's body was found on April 6, 2020, and her son's body was found on April 8, 2020. On April 8, 2020, the medical examiner reported McKean accidentally drowned in the turbulent and chilly water of the Chesapeake Bay.

After Maeve Kennedy McKean died, the year-old discussions between the McKean-associate Bill Gates, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about vaccines, in the new age of COVID19, resurfaced. Indeed, RFK Jr. posted on social media in April 2020, the following:

"Promising to eradicate Polio with $1.2 billion, Gates took control of India's National Advisory Board (NAB) and mandated 50 polio vaccines (up from 5) to every child before age 5....that paralyzed 496,000 children between 2000 and 2017." ~ RFK, Jr

In 2019, RFK Jr. felt he had "exposed Bill Gates relationship with big pharma."

RFK Jr said that the "Gates Foundation routinely paid PR relations firms to manipulate scientific decision-making in favor of genetic engineering technologies that Foundation supports. Gates loves #vaccines"

Maeve Kennedy McKean had made news in 2019, for co-authoring a column criticizing RFK Jr. for his anti-vaccination activism. The critique was co-authored by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joseph P. Kennedy II, and Maeve Kennedy McKean. Those three were identified by these affiliations:

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the former chair of the Global Virus Network.
Joseph P. Kennedy II, a former member of Congress from Massachusetts, is the chairman and president of Citizens Energy Corporation.
Maeve Kennedy McKean is the executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Initiatives.


On April 5, 2020, the actress Honor Blackman (born August 22, 1925 in Essex, England) died. She was especially recalled for her portrayal of the Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964). 

President Kennedy listed From Russia with Love as one of his favorite books. After that ringing endorsement, Ian Fleming’s James Bond books started flying off of the shelves.

The Kennedys became friends with Ian Fleming. In 1959, Jackie Kennedy sent Director of the CIA Allen Dulles a copy of one of Fleming’s Bond novels, which captured his attention and led to him making contact with Fleming, sparking off several years of correspondence and friendship. Dulles wrote back to Jackie in November 1959, thanking her, mentioning he’d made contact with Fleming and enclosing a copy of Goldfinger (1958) for her and JFK to enjoy. Since filming began on January 20, 1964, and JFK had been killed on November 22, 1963, he never saw the movie.

JFK's and 007's womanizing ways were often compared.

Blackman died in the UK, although she owned a summer house in Islesboro, Maine, United States.


Garfield in The Candidate

On April 7, 2020, during the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, Allen Garfield, 80, died of COVID-19. Garfield was born Allen Goorwitz on November 22 (the JFK assassination date), 1939. He appeared in over 100 films and television programs. One of the movies was The Candidate (1972), which starred Robert Redford, which had Redford in a role with a close resemblance to a Kennedy brother. Allen "Garfield," of course, reminds one of James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831 – September 19, 1881) was the 20th president of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881 until his death by assassination six and a half months later.

Random John F. Kennedy Airport notes: 

April 9, 2020. The first confirmed coronavirus case in New York was a woman who flew into JFK in February and tested positive March 1. The next day, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio promised investigators would track down every person on her flight. No one ever did. (New York Times)

BREAKING: TSA reported April 9, 2020, that 327 employees, both passenger checkpoint screeners and baggage inspectors, have tested positive for COVID-19, mostly at JFK, Logan and Seattle international airports. 13 employees have recovered, and 2 have "succumbed" to the virus.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Project Blue Book's First Secretary Jennie R. Zeidman, 88, Dies

A respected ufologist for almost seven decades, Jennie Zeidman has passed away.

One of the 1970s' most prominent UFO investigators Jennie (nee Gluck) Zeidman was 88.

Zeidman, born in 1932, growing up in Ohio, she first became involved in Ufology in 1953, when in the fall of 1952, as a senior at Ohio State University (where she obtained her B.A. in English), she was a student of Professor J. Allen Hynek. 

"Hynek came in the first day [of that astronomy class] and wrote his name on the board. 'My name is Hynek,' he said, 'as in giraffe," she would recall years later.

Hynek was very open about the consulting work he was doing for the Air Force on UFOs. He would use his work on UFOs as a teaching tool, was very popular and very entertaining. 

Zeidman would become Dr. Hynek's first secretary and research assistant in the early days of Project Blue Book, holding her position until 1966.  It was the beginning of a long friendship, she would remember.

As a resident of Columbus, Ohio, Zeidman served as a research associate and analyst for the Center for UFO Studies. It was in that position that she wrote her most often cited works.

Bill Murphy at The Anomalist, upon learning of the sad news of Zeidman's death from CUFOS director Mark Rodegnier, observed, "Another lion lost to the field."


Zeidman is known for her two cornerstone studies:

Zeidman, Jennie “The Lumberton Report” 1976, CUFOS, Evanston, Illinois. Ringbound A4, 59 pages, ill. 
UFO activity in southern North Carolina April 3-9, 1975.

Zeidman, Jennie “A Helicopter-UFO Encounter over Ohio.” 
1979, CUFOS, Evanston, Illinois. Ringbound A4.

There were four earnest and sober young men in uniform who all signed their names to witness the Oct. 18, 1974 close encounter in the sky over Richland County. (A Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio by Jennie Zeidman, 1979)

Two of the men in the helicopter independently sketched the UFO they saw, and both drawings are remarkably similar. (A Helicopter-UFO Encounter Over Ohio by Jennie Zeidman, 1979)

The Mansfield Encounter has been referenced in dozens of UFO books during the last four decades, but the first published accounts other than newspaper coverage, came in these two volumes from 1978 and 1979.

Illustration from Fate Magazine, August 1978.

The witnesses who watched the helicopter/UFO encounter were pulled off the road on Rt. 430 where the road bridges Charles Mill Lake, about 2 miles from the I-71/Rt 30 interchange.

The [helicopter] crew won the National Enquirer Blue Ribbon Scientific Panel’s $5000 award for “the most scientific and valuable report of 1973.”

And not long afterwards Aviation Week & Space Technology editor Philip Klass (who declares flatly that he never found a UFO case he couldn’t solve) announced that his “rigorous investigation” of the case had determined that the object was merely “a fireball of the Orionid meteor shower.”

Obituary for Jennie R. Zeidman
Jennie R. Zeidman, age 88, passed away on April 8, 2020. Preceded in death by her husband, Gordon “Bud” Zeidman; daughter, Deborah Zeidman; brother, Samuel Gluck and parents, Arthur and Flora Gluck. She is survived by her son, Barry Zeidman (Tamara Rehmar); granddaughter, Dyan (Halen) Johnson; several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Graveside services will be held on Monday, April 13th at New Tifereth Israel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to Congregation Tifereth Israel in her memory.

It is unknown, at this writing, if COVID19, was involved in her death.

Discussion by:

No. of Pages
Boyd, Robert D in his “International Who’s Who in Ufology Directory” (1988) at pages 227-228 of the PMT Publishing softcover edition.
Clark, Jerome in his “The UFO Encyclopedia: 1st edition: Volume 1 – UFOs in the 1980s” (1990) (available on Amazon USA and on Amazon UK) at page 223 (in an entry entitled “Zeidman, Jennie (1932- )”) of the Apogee hardback edition.
Clark, Jerome in his “The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning - 2ndedition” (1998) (available on Amazon USA and on Amazon UK) in Volume 2:L-Z at page 1036 (in an entry entitled “Zeidman, Jennie (1932- )”) of the Omnigraphics hardback edition.
Story, Ronald in “The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters” (2001) (edited by Ronald Story) (available on Amazon USA and on Amazon UK) at page 672 (in an entry entitled “Zeidman, Jennie R”) of the New American Library softcover edition, at page 658 of the pdf edition (with the same page numbering in the Microsoft Word edition).
Story, Ronald in “The Encyclopedia of UFOs” (1980) edited by Ronald Story (available on Amazon USA and on Amazon UK) at page 401 (in an entry entitled “Zeidman, Jennie (R.)”) of the NEL hardback edition.
Story, Ronald in “The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters” (2001) (edited by Ronald Story) (available on Amazon USA and on Amazon UK) at page 806 (in an entry entitled “Zeidman, Jennie R”) of the Robinson softcover edition.

Another source.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Pandemic Mass Shooting: Russia

Anton Franchikov, 31, pictured with his wife who is a doctor, shot dead five people in a village in Ryazan, about 120 miles southeast of Moscow.

On Thursday, April 4, 2020, at Yelatma, Ryazan Oblast, Russia, Anton Franchikov shot dead 5 people.

A Russian medic opened fire on his balcony after neighbors made "too much noise" under coronavirus isolation, police say. Anton Franchikov, 31, killed five people after tensions rose between himself and residents of his apartment block during the second week of lockdown. He shot three people on the street outside his home in Yelatma, a settlement in Ryazan region with population of 3,100, before running downstairs to shoot two others as they sought to hide in their apartment. He has been detained by police while his wife, a GP [General Physican] based at a local hospital, is also being questioned by the Russian Investigation Committee. Source.

Local administration head Grigory Danilov said,

This was a conflict between neighbors which developed into a shooting. They exchanged words and he ended up picking up a rifle. The second week of quarantine plays badly on people’s psychology. People miss having communication.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Coming Wave of Pandemic Suicides?

During a news briefing on March 23, 2020, President Donald Trump said:
People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies. You have death. Probably and — I mean, definitely — would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about with regard to the virus.
Trump followed this with a comment the next day at a Fox town meeting, when reflecting on what would happen in the US if the coronavirus shutdown continues:
You are going to lose a number of people to the flu, but you are going to lose more people by putting the country in a massive recession or depression. You are going to lose people. You’re going to have suicides by the thousands.

There is some confusion here between "depression" (with a mental health or clinical meaning) and "Depression" (an economic term from the 1930s). At various points in Trump's comments, he appears to have been predicting the society, in the midst of a financial depression, would become mentally depressed, and people would begin killing themselves out of despair.

Spanish Flu 1917-1920

What can we learn from the lessons of the misnamed "Spanish flu"?
The Spanish flu proved to be peculiar for several reasons, most noteworthy of course due to the high morbidity (as many 500 million were infected) and mortality (around 50 million deaths). It also came in waves. In the US, there were four such waves: first in spring 1918, again in August 1918 (epidemiologically the most devastating of the four), yet again in winter 1918/1919, and a final return in early 1920. Finally, the disease was unlike most flus in that it decimated even the traditionally more robust segments of the population (ages 20-40), taking the lives of many within 3 days of showing symptoms. Psychiatric Times.

Classically, during the pandemic of 1917-1920, it was not the downturn in the economy, nor the flu itself that impacted the suicide rate. It was the impact of the deaths, survivor guilt, and the underlying isolation that those battling the flu felt that "caused" suicides.

Specific examples turn up in the literature.

The Spanish flu virus "traveled west and south, arriving at Camp Grant, Illinois, on Saturday, September 21, 1918, with 70 hospital admissions," noted The Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919.

Ten days after the epidemic struck, hospital admissions began to fall but pneumonia took hold, and Camp Grant's daily death toll began to climb. It reached double digits on October 1 with 14 deaths, then 30 the next day, 46 the next, and 76 on October 4. The mortuary was designed to handle only four deaths a day. On Friday, October 4, with more than 100 bodies in the mortuary camp, officials negotiated with local undertakers to take the bodies at $50 each, but when someone produced a flatbed truck to remove the dead, the Army quickly provided more dignified closed trucks. The number of dead broke 100 on October 5 and reached a horrifying high of 117 deaths on October 6. The last day the Camp Grant death toll exceeded 100 was October 9, but the decline was too late for its commander. Col. Charles B. Hagadorn, a West Point graduate and career officer who had served in Russia and the Panama Canal Zone, was acting camp commander when influenza struck. Although Camp Grant's sickness and death rates were no worse than other camps and better than some, fellow officers later told reporters that Hagadorn had been showing the strain of the epidemic. Troubled as more than 500 soldiers died of pneumonia under his command, on October 7, he committed suicide with a pistol shot to his head. In the end, Camp Grant suffered 10,713 influenza victims, including 1,060 deaths in a population of 40,000. Source.
One individual case is used to illustrate this.

James Niven (12 August 1851 – 30 September 1925) was a Scottish physician, perhaps best known for his work during the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918 as Manchester's Medical Officer of Health. Following his retirement in 1922 he suffered from depression and committed suicide on 30 September 1925 at Douglas on the Isle of Man. A dramatization of the Spanish flu period in Manchester was transmitted on BBC television as Spanish Flu: The Forgotten Fallen on 5 August 2009 and again on 25 September 2012. On 17 March 2020, "The flu that killed 50 million" documentary was televised, and Niven and his work featured heavily.
The emotional stresses during historical influenza epidemics are impossible to measure in statistical terms, but the suffering of bereavement from the sudden loss of loved ones cannot be ignored. The mortality toll of the 1918–1920 pandemic was not only high but also involved an unusually large proportion of victims between twenty and forty years of age. One consequence was a markedly high number of young widows and widowers and the orphaning of small children.
A significant rise in suicides was reported from several countries across the globe. In the U.S., an increase of one unit in excess flu mortality (one more death per year per 1,000 population) increased the rate of suicide by 10 percent. That statistic takes into account the possible confounding role on the suicide rate of World War I casualties (which proved not to be significant) and the decline in alcohol consumption between 1910 and 1920 (which acted to lower the incidence of suicide). Many suicides can be related to mental disturbances resulting from the fear of contracting the disease (a stricken person could be dead in three days) or stress of infection with the flu itself. However, the unbearable loss of a spouse, children, or close relatives also contributed, as did a fall in social integration due to school closures, cur-tailment of public events, and so on. Source.

In my book Suicide Clusters (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987), I pointed out that the suicide rate and the occurrence of suicide clusters was so high, Sigmund Freud held the first modern youth suicide prevention conferences in 1920, in Austria.
The documented connection between viral pandemics and psychological stress dates back more than 100 years ago, when Karl Menniger linked the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic with changes in psychiatric complications. The influenza virus most commonly affects the respiratory system, but the burden on neuropsychiatric diseases are under-recognized, he said.

A major study was conducted in 1920 in the United States to determine the impact of the influenza pandemic of 1918 on subsequent rates of suicide. Researchers concluded that the pandemic caused suicide to rise.
Historical demographer Svenn-Erik Mamelund, PhD, in his 2003 paper, "Effects of the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19," pointed out that Spanish flu survivors reported sleep disturbances, depression, mental distraction, dizziness, and difficulties coping at work, and that influenza death rates in the United States during the years 1918-1920 were significantly and positively related to suicide.


What will be the legacy of the novel coronavirus of 2019-2020?

Dr. Shailinder Singh who is a psychiatrist working in a psychiatric emergency room in a New York City hospital told ABC News:
This is an unprecedented event for the vast majority of people. It is certainly reasonable to expect the risk of suicide increasing secondary to the economic and social fallout.
One of the solutions for the pandemic -- social isolation -- could prove disastrous for deaths by suicide.

"Social distancing and isolation are triggers for people with mental health issues," said Singh.

Add social distancing to the availability of guns, and a perfect storm is being created for a future wave of suicides.

The FBI reported a 73% increase in background check applications for gun purchases in March 2020, compared to March 2019. Guns are more lethal than any other suicide method, and the United States has the highest percentage ownership of guns in the home.

Stay tuned. We could face some rough times ahead. In the meantime, remember all who have passed this way.

Designed and carved by Tene Waitere, a cenotaph was erected in New Zealand at the Te Köura marae, or meeting place, in memory of Maori who died in the 1918 pandemic.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline