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Beware of Ronitis, The Latest Deadly Disease

You may remember our New Oxford Note, “Oh, to Be a Victim!” (Jan.), in which we noted an announcer on a local CBS radio affiliate telling about the mayor of a near-by city who had died, solemnly intoning that the mayor was a “victim of suicide.” If you recall, we found that expression oxymoronic.

In his syndicated column in the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco (Dec. 6, 2002), Fr. Ron Rolheiser looks back on the 20 years of his column (now syndicated in 40 papers), and points out that in every one of those years he’s done a column on suicide, which he terms a “painful disease.”

Painful. Yes, that’s probably still true in most cases, but there are painless ways of doing it, and with the spread of doctor-assisted suicide, it will become increasingly painless.

A disease. Hmmm. How does one pick it up? Is it contagious? Is it congenital? Can you pick it up from polluted water or exposure to asbestos dust or from standing in front of the microwave too long? Or is it one of those diseases shrinks love to invent, such as Relational Disorders (see the above New Oxford Note) or Homophobia?

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