What Possessed Kipp Rusty Walker to Kill Himself in Front of Audience?

Janelle Harris

Teen, stab, selfPeople really are losing their doggone minds — teenagers included — and they’re coming up with more creative and gruesome ways to inflict their craziness on themselves. What other possible reason could explain why Kipp Rusty Walker would take to the stage for open mic night at an Oregon coffee house, sing a song called “Sorry for the Mess,” then proceed to stab himself repeatedly in the heart with a six-inch knife in front of audience members who became unfortunate onlookers to the horrifying turn of events?

Stabbed himself. To death. In front of other people. File this under ‘never, ever, ever expected anything like that to happen at the local café.’ The kicker? He was just 19 years old. The heck? 

Not surprisingly, Walker had a history of mental illness and depression before he took to his keyboard to perform for about 15 other patrons at Strictly Organic Coffee Company. That begs the question: did his family or friends even have a hint, a flicker of a thought, that he would be capable of doing something like this?

My guess is probably no. People never think their loved ones are potential horror-story headline-makers until that terrible thing actually happens. The Columbine parents were stunned to discover their sons had been plotting their anarchy for ages before they put it into motion. And it’s pretty safe to say that Jeffrey Dahmer's or Aileen Wuornos’ small circle of folks figured them to be weird, a little odd, maybe even sometimes disturbing, but not capable of becoming repeated stone cold killers.

Kipp Rusty Walker didn’t take anybody out with him in his public suicide, but he sure did affect a whole lot of lives. Eyewitnesses to the terrifying self-attack are seeking counseling for post-traumatic stress. I can only imagine — shoot, I’d probably never be quite the same if I saw a man split himself open right in front of me. If you’re in the military, you’re mentally trained for the possibility of incidents like that. If you’re in a coffee house sipping on a mocha latte and listening to music, probably not so much.

I don’t even know if there’s a moral to this story or a lesson to be learned. Perhaps it’s just that we should keep tabs on people we think are battling internal demons or waging mental or emotional struggles. But sometimes, it’s not so obvious to tell who those people even are. It’s clear Walker’s tragic decision was premeditated, but sometimes folks really do snap and act on an emotional whim.

Mental health is real, y’all. Put down the dumbbells for a minute, stop obsessing over how many calories are in an ounce of whatever-it-is-you’re-about-to-eat, and take some time to make sure your scruples are all in tact, too. We run from the concept of therapy thinking we don’t need it, but I don’t know anybody — an-ty-body — who couldn’t benefit from a little couch time and counseling. Lashanda Armstrong. I’m just sayin’.

Have you ever taken your son or daughter to professional counseling or a licensed psychologist? Did you go as a family or take them individually? Do you look for warning signs in people who seem unhappy/emotionally distressed?


Image via stevendepolo/Flickr

Read More