Murder being the extroverted form of suicide, it's clear that for the Buford Furrows, the Andrew Cunanans, the trenchcoat-mafiosi Dylan Klebolds and Eric Harrises, the day-trader Mark Bartons and the Texas-church-slayer Larry Gene Ashbrooks of the world, ostentatiously killing others is integral to the process of ostentatiously killing themselves. As a rule, the rest of us are not upset when we learn that another dangerous wacko has been arrested, shot by cops, or died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. What does upset us is this: since dangerous wackos do not win Pulitzers or solve Fermat's Theorem, the only way for them to call themselves to our attention is to leave a trail of innocent victims in their wake.
Can we grant these people the fame they are literally willing to die for, but without the sacrifice of innocents? The answer is: Yes!
The plan, naturally, involves television: a new cable channel called Suicide Television STV. Here's how it works. Volunteer applicants will be recruited and exhaustively evaluated by staff psychologists. Those who are deemed to be rapidly approaching an extroverted-suicide spree will be put up in a comfortable, hotel-like confinement center and assigned a segment producer.
Working together, subject and producer will develop the suicide telecast. Each production will be a unique elaboration on the family traumas, psychoses, demons and what-have-yous that are driving the subject to slaughter innocent victims. For instance, a subject who was regularly beaten by his parents, or picked on by bullies, might (I'm just guessing here; I'm no psychologist) choose to wrestle a wild bear or shark, or, if an antiquarian sort, to be drawn and quartered. To build suspense, every STV segment will include documentary footage of the final weeks of the subject's life: suicide design and planning; tearful and recriminatory reunions with family and friends; moments of doubt and commitment; terrifying glimpses of the subject's true nature.
The actual suicides will be planned and executed with the same care and multiple-camera setups that go into the making of a blockbuster picture or big-time commercial. Special rigs will be developed to deliver, say, an ultra-slo-mo shot of decapitation by circular saw, or a bird's-eye view, with multi-track sound, of someone who never got to become a serial killer being swallowed by molten lava deep inside a roaring volcano.
Several subjects with the same obsession might choose to have high-speed head-on collisions with each other driving specially doctored cars without seat belts, air bags and crumple zones. Survivors could attack each other with shovels. A Rollerball-type death-sport series could evolve, with the victor going on to meet a new challenger the following week. Or a game show Who Wants to be Dead in which the object is to determine which contestant is most deserving of a gaudy annihilation.
Of course there will be those who complain that televising suicides is a barbaric throwback, a disgusting commercialization of death. They won't get any argument from me. I'll simply point out that the spectacle of our subjects dying on STV is more edifying than watching the loved ones of murder victims tearfully emerging from black limousines on the nightly news.
And if that doesn't convince the critics, how about this: STV will donate a substantial portion of its income to an established victims' rights group. That way we'll not only reduce the number of serial killers, we'll also mine the silver lining in the cloud they leave behind.