“Nah, I’m just a White guy”: “Sky King” and White Male Suicide

“It is this which makes suicide easier: for the physical pain associated with it loses all significance in the eyes of one afflicted by excessive spiritual suffering.”
Arthur Schopenhauer, Über den Selbstmord

A few days ago, Rich Russell, a 29-year-old baggage handler at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, took a a twin-turboprop Bombardier Q400 that had been parked for the night, and flew it 25 miles before deliberately ending his life by crashing it on the sparsely populated Ketron Island. Rich appears to have made a point of avoiding injuring or harming others in his pursuit of a cinematic, and, one assumes, adrenaline-fueled exit from this life. Among the particularly poignant aspects of the moments before his death was Rich’s determination to execute a barrel roll before making his way to Ketron Island. There was also his interaction with an air traffic controller, during which a nervous, distracted, emotional, and clearly troubled Rich attempted to make humorous small-talk. At one point the following exchange took place:

Rich: Hey do you think if I land this successfully, Alaska will give me a job as a pilot? 

Air traffic control: You know, I think they would give you a job doing anything if you could pull this off.  

Rich: Yeah right! Nah, I’m a White guy.

We will never know what combination of reasons led this young man to take his own life, but this particular exchange certainly resonates strongly with a growing problem: White men, specifically, are taking their lives at terrifying rates, and these rates are getting worse. Another sign that there was something deeper in the nature of Rich Russell’s death was the response from the Alt-Right community on social media. Rich was quickly given the admiring and sympathetic hashtag #SkyKing, and whereas the mainstream media and all aspects of the political Left appeared to ignore the story altogether, Alt-Right accounts were notable for changing their usernames to include plane emojis, producing tribute videos, and expressing sincere condolences for the loss of a young man everyone would be proud to call a son or brother. Even setting aside the epic nature, if that’s even an appropriate terminology, of Rich’s death, this suicide clearly touched a nerve. Why?

One reason is that the Alt-Right, more than any other Western cultural or political group, is already keenly aware that White men are being forced into existential crisis by contemporary social and political developments. This crisis is quite literally killing us. In 2015, two Princeton economists found that the death rate among white, middle-aged men, rather than falling, like with most other groups, was rising. According to suicide prevention expert, Dr. Christine Moutier, middle-aged White men account for 70% of deaths from suicide each year. Nine-tenths of them are from a lower socioeconomic class. The crisis has engulfed the West as a whole. Britain is in the grip of a male suicide crisis. Men in the UK, aged 20 to 49, are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death. Two months ago it was announced that “male suicide rates in Australia are an epidemic.” In France, a person commits suicide every hour, and among young people aged 15 to 24 suicide is the second cause of death after road accidents. Meanwhile, in Bavaria, a state that enjoys low unemployment and high average income, suicide takes more than double the lives of road traffic accidents.

Aside from instances of personal, individual trauma, there are three layers of explanations for this unfolding and worsening catastrophe, only some of which are discussed with any merit in the mainstream media. These three layers can be broadly defined as cultural, sexual, and racial. In the realm of culture, it is clear that Western civilization has fully entered a stage of sterility and degradation, resulting in a pervasive meaninglessness in human life. An unavoidable factor in this context is the rise of technology and the aftermath of the industrial revolution, or at least the spirit which accompanied these developments. Two key texts identifying this malaise are Martin Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology (1954), and Ted Kaczynski’s The Unabomber Manifesto: Industrial Society and Its Future (1995).

For Heidegger, like Max Weber before him, the advance of modern industrial science in explaining everything naturalistically led to the “disenchantment of the world.” As humans tended more and more towards the view of their surroundings as merely potential resources to be exploited as much as possible, our ability to lead worthwhile and meaningful lives was put at risk. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the development of “human resources” as a central aspect of all employment practices. With this development, the sterile objectification and interchangeability of man was essentially complete, and “the good human” became “the one most flexible and able to deal with shifts in the marketplace, pluralities of cultures, changes in social norms etc. In their adaptability, human beings in the technological age share a ‘style of being’ with everything else, because everything is now valued in terms of its flexibility and efficiency. Modern technology, in other words, has changed our taste or sense for the world.”[1] This, we might say, is the first step on the path to despair.

The culture of modern technology, moreover, with its emphasis on unending exploitation of resources and hostility to obstacles of any kind, is inherently antagonistic to any “non-fluid” aspects of human life: biological sex differences; borders and nation states; religious or Romantic notions of purpose or higher meaning in human life; or even the idea that a man might have one career in a single field. In fact, our entire education system is now built on providing students with sets of “skills” rather than expertise in any particular area — the goal being the production of a pool of potential employees able to adapt to a wider variety of work situations. The Financial Times is now advising young graduates to prepare for at least five careers in their lifetime. Many people are therefore graduating college without even the faint hope of a path or grand project by which to navigate their working lives. Their existence is rather doomed from the outset to be dominated by transience and interchangeability, rendering them, quite literally, as just another set of spokes for the technological wheel.

If Heidegger was correct in implying that humans possessed a greater sense of Being when they were more connected to the land and the objects around them, then the spirit of the industrial revolution has been a cruel thief indeed. Our ancestors left the mountains and fields for the cities and factories not just for the superficial ease of wage labor and escape from periodic famine, but also because of the promise of participating in a larger project: they would make things, and through these things they would contribute to Western expansion, progress, and empire. Until the mid-twentieth century, the industrial revolution could be said to have fulfilled its part of the bargain. But today, in the post-industrial West, we are cut off from the mountains and fields, and also from the larger vision. The factories are closing or already closed, and the great projects of the West now lie abandoned, scorned and stigmatized. Technological economic life, the very basis of supporting one’s material existence in modernity, is a wasteland devoid of true meaning. To compensate, we use technology to develop ever more devices that will create more free time, but, in doing so, we plunge ourselves only into existential boredom. We escape from this numbing state via a seemingly endless supply of petty amusement and entertainment. When this finally fails, we find our lives entirely unfulfilled and undirected by culture. We have taken the second step on the path to despair.

The next layer of explanations for the catastrophic Western male suicide epidemic concerns the revolution in sexual relations. As well as being stripped of meaning, the modern working and educational environment has been thoroughly feminized. Well-paid industrial jobs have all but disappeared, and they’ve been replaced with unskilled work, low-wage roles that privilege female-oriented “skills,” or fluid occupations that are part of the rise of the bloated, sanitized, meaningless, non-productive, and expressly politically correct “corporate managerial class.” Affirmative action policies, explicit or not, are leading to the influx of women at all levels of the education system, displacing men as well as marginalizing male learning preferences. One of the great lies of the “equality” scam is that it is without costs, and that it is merely about “fairness.” Nothing could be further from the truth. What “equality” in fact achieves is an unbalancing, and a redistribution that involves loss of power, influence, and meaning for the section of the population deemed ‘privileged’ by the ideological fashion of the moment. In the United States, the academic performance of boys has been in decline since the 1950s. Similar patterns have been observed in Canada, the U.K., and Australia. In fact, in Australia, educational standards as a whole have collapsed almost entirely in sync with the fact “male teachers are becoming an endangered species” in the country.

The marginalization or feminization of males in educational and working environments proceeds unchallenged because of the widespread demonization of masculinity in modern, sterile, resource-focussed culture. Jonathan Bowden once opined that “masculinity is a sacred thing.” Channeled aggression, stoicism, self-control, ambition, a keen sense of honor, and, when necessary, well-ventilated fury, are indeed sacred aspects of Western masculinity and have been marked in our souls since before The Iliad inscribed them in literature. And, for centuries after Homer, these traits were admired, praised, and worked into poetry and art. Today, however, all aspects of masculinity are designed as undesirable, declared “toxic,” and scheduled for “management” by the feminized technological state. The Boston Globe, Psychology Today, and even the British government insist that boys should be encouraged to play with dolls to make them “more caring and nurturing,” which is “something that is just as appropriate for boys as for girls.” Such rhetoric ignores and marginalizes the fact that males have cared for and nurtured their families for many thousands of years – in a male way. What such initiatives actually aim to do is not make males caring and nurturing, but to make them caring and nurturing in a female manner. They seek the eradication of masculinity.

They also disseminate the myth that there is something inherently wrong and dangerous about being a male. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the proliferation of the “rape culture” meme. It is one of those glaring contradictions of Leftist thought that Cultural Marxists should preoccupy themselves so intensely with the idea that all Western men are potential rapists, while cheering the mass immigration of actual rapists from the Third World – a development that has led to probably the greatest rise in sex crimes in the history of the West. White men are thus confronted with the confusing, and, in some ways, soul-destroying vision of White women showing open preference for low IQ foreign sex criminals over their own kind.  The consequent resentment is only part of a larger breakdown in sex relations that also links heavily with the feminized, resource-focused Western divorce system, which looks at men not as fathers and humans, but as bank balances and custody hours. In response, males increasingly reject marriage, turning to movements involving, on the one hand the total rejection of relationships (MGTOW, or Men Going Their Own Way), or pick-up artistry (itself a transient, fluid, nihilistic and novelty-based product of the resource-focussed society). Perhaps most disillusioned are the Incels, or Involuntary Celibates, those who simply can’t find a mate given the state of contemporary sex relations. This particular movement is home to a great deal of despair, and has contributed a number of notable suicides.

A third layer of explanations for the explosion in White male suicides involves race. We now live at a time where almost every project or endeavor is measured according to prevailing ideological dogma, and where the primary measure is the number of White males that project or endeavor will involve. “Too many White men” is today perhaps the greatest condemnation, moral and otherwise, that can be levelled at any film, play, book, sport, academic discipline, civic institution, or government. The absence or elimination of White men, the social “folk devil,” thus becomes an inherent moral good within the culture. Given this state of affairs, it wasn’t at all surprising when, last year, Maine Democrats were caught on video laughing about rising suicide rates among White males. They undoubtedly felt this was acceptable because their targets had already been thoroughly dehumanized by culture, by feminism, and by the racial dynamics of the contemporary multicultural state. Of course, the most material manifestation of the “too many White men” idea is affirmative action. We will probably never have exact figures for the number of White men excluded from employment in the society built by their fathers, and all in the appalling name of “equality.” What we do know is that the very existence of affirmative action is a demoralizing affront to the dignity of every hardworking White man in America, and wherever regulations like these raise their poisonous head. Most poingantly, their demoralizing effect is etched into every syllable uttered by Rich Russell when he balked and said “Nah! I’m a White guy” before turning into the sunset.

Faced with such an overwhelmingly oppressive atmosphere, it certainly isn’t surprising that more and more White males are finding themselves in places of despair. But is suicide the right answer? Or is such a question even valid? The subject is close to home. When I was aged 20, my best friend of the same age hanged himself. After an extremely difficult childhood and the frustration of a career path, he was walking on a razor’s edge emotionally. Then he found out his girlfriend was cheating on him. Days later he was dead. We had been more or less inseparable since we met as five year olds. He was like a brother, and I found his death absolutely devastating. In some respects, I still do. In the aftermath, one is confronted, after the numbness, tears, and anger, with a feeling of indignation. These people, after all, deprive us of them. And, despite its inability to bring our loved ones back, we question the morality, or “rightness” of that. In my mid-20s, with some of these questions still circulating in my mind, I found Schopenhauer’s essay On Suicide, and I read it again in the hours after hearing of Rich Russell’s final journey. In that essay, I found not only answers to the moral question of suicide,  but also, in the aftermath of Rich’s death, to the differing responses of the Alt-Right and non-Alt-Righters to it.

In Schopenhauer’s view, “it is only the monotheistic, that is to say Jewish, religions whose members regard self-destruction as a crime.” The reason for this is not any definitive prohibition in scripture, of which there is none, but rather the realization that suicide is “an ill compliment to him who said that all things were very good…It is another instance of the obligatory optimism of these religions, which denounces self-destruction so as not to be denounced by it.” This passage really resonated with me because Left-Liberalism is nothing if not a modern, secular religion imbued with mandatory optimism. We are constantly told that things are getting better, that “diversity is our strength,” and that “equality will make things fairer.” Dissent from this prozac-fuelled vision is viewed almost as a form of mental illness. Is it any wonder then that such a mass culture, with such tendencies, would look on even the most spectacular of White male suicides with nervous confusion, missing entirely its meaning or greater significance? Left-Liberalism, Schopenhauer might say, ignores, marginalizes, and even laughs at White male suicide so as not to be denounced by it. The Alt-Right, sensitive to cultural decline, and attuned to the pain of despair, saw Rich Russell’s denunciation for what it was, and responded accordingly.

Are suicides merely weak cowards? Schopenhauer adds: “We hear that suicide is the most cowardly of acts, that only a madman would commit it, and similar insipidities; or the senseless assertion that suicide is “wrong,” though it is obvious there is nothing in the world a man has a more incontestable right to than his own life and person.” It is the act of will in exercising this right over themselves that prevents me from condemning those who choose this path. My own interpretation of the death of Rich Russell was that Rich decided in his last moments to seize his life, and, as Heidegger would have it, quite literally “live towards Death.[2]” Faced with a life stripped of meaning, only a death imbued with meaning, or at least some semblance of control or self-determination, remained. Almost every aspect of Rich Russell’s final moments were self-determined – from the conversation with the ATC to the barrel roll against the sunset. He could not determine how he lived, so he resolved to determine how he died.

These remain mere speculations, and this topic remains sensitive. The goal here is not to offend, but it is perhaps to alarm. We are facing a huge crisis. The more sensitive souls among us are the proverbial canary in the coal mine. A deep rot has set into Western culture, and it will need to be rooted out before we lose too many good people – indeed, before we lose “too many White men.” Of those that depart, perhaps the best we can offer is not to condone, and not to condemn; but to say merely that we understand.

Appendix: Selected comments from Alt-Right Twitter Accounts (with permission):

“I think he feels the pain of an entire race being exterminated but can’t quite articulate his depression.” Tolerant Fellow.

“It’s unsettling. So human, vulnerable, and brave at the same time.” The Frog of War.

“This is the most united I’ve seen all of these different groups in a while.” National Apacheism.

“Literally this was the Whitest hijacking ever. The guy just flew around the water and crashed so others wouldn’t be at risk.” Sherman McCoy.

“The blue checkmarks will hate Rich because in the last moments of his life he was free and that terrifies them more than anything else.” Titus of the Dreamlands.

[1] M. Wrathall, Heidegger (London: Granta, 2005), p.101

[2] Heidegger himself viewed suicide as an “inauthentic” approach to Death, but his argument has been critiqued by scholars as philosophically lacking, and owing too much to his Catholic background.

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