VIRGINIA – It is perhaps the greatest source of frustration and heartache we can experience, even as we simultaneously experience the bliss of
Indian Native American summer and head into deer season: the alarming rise of the suicide rate among deer.
We are continuously forced to bear witness to the self-mutilating and suicidal behavior of deer and wonder how it is possible in a civilized society. These horrific mangling/deaths are tragic and deeply painful; it is almost unbearable to think about the pain these deer endured when they were alive and the desperation and hopelessness that cause their deaths.
Statistics show that that suicide is the leading cause of death among deer, and the 173rd leading cause of death amongst those upon whose vehicles they fling themselves in search of a “suicide solution.” Are these isolated incidents? Afraid not. It is estimated that over 600,000 deer try to kill themselves every year, and about 595,000 succeed. What we have here is an epidemic.
“It’s fucking ridiculous!” a 27-time deer-collision survivor and recently unemployed Fed-Ex driver states. “It’s like every time I leave my house to go to work, these things come running out of nowhere and fling themselves against my car. If that ain’t bad enough, they keep eating my garden! I don’t know how much more I can take.”
It is estimated that of the 8.1 million lightweight motor vehicle collisions reported in the US 647,000 crashes involved deer suicide attempts. The rates of murder-suicide attempts/completions are even more alarming. Deer-vehicle collisions lead to approximately 300 human deaths every year. State and federal governments, insurance companies, and drivers spend an addition $3 billion in an effort to reduce and manage the increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions.
The main contributing factor of deer suicide has long been contested amongst behavioralists and statisticians. Many factors are yet to be identified or understood; a primary factor in all deer suicides has not been identified, but the most argued is the proximity of roadways to deer-populated forestry. Significant factors also include: an increase in depression and suicidal ideation amongst deer who have lost family members to suicide or murder-suicide combos, the inability to move upon seeing a headlight, and general lack of proper care/caution on both sides.
“I was on my way back from a beer run the other night, and this deer was all ‘BAM!’ Ran right out in the road in front of me, and just stood there,” a local resident and Bronco II owner reports. “I was like, ‘Move, you stupid deer!’ And it was all like, ‘No.’ So I ran over it. I had to get home to watch the game.”
“That was clearly murder,” a local deer responds. “We were there, just beyond the guardrail. We dared our buddy to go out and get that chestnut we kicked in the road. He was paralyzed by that asshole’s headlight. Like he couldn’t just go around.”
It is known that many deer who have lost family and friends to suicide try to hide what happened and sometimes try to deny what they experienced from each other. Sadly, rather than face suicide as a fact of how their loved one died, many survivors never talk about it in open conversation. Whom does the silence hurt, you might ask? Everyone. But first and foremost, the immediate family and acquaintances of the departed. Experts contend that the greatest fear of any deer who has lost a loved one to suicide is that everyone will forget their loved one who has died; that their name will forever be excluded from conversation.
“Um, again, — not true,” the same deer responds. “We don’t even have names. We’re just like, ‘Hey, you!’ or ‘Deer!’ – and headbutt whichever one we’re talking to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pissed that that my buddy got murdered. But the only way I could tell Deer apart from deers is the fact that HE WAS MURDERED. Like, he was laying in the road, and the rest of us were hanging out behind the guardrail. Yeah, that’s right, I said DEERS. Why the fuck don’t we get an ‘S’? That makes no sense. The other night, there were these guys out by a campfire talking about, “I probably had me about 20 beer.’ What is happening? Is there some kind of “S” shortage?”
He continues, “Anyhoo, there were like eight of us that night. Three more died the next night trying to avenge Deer. I was like, ‘Hey, y’all – hold up a second! I don’t think that’s even the same car/guy!’ But, hell, who knows? Y’all all look the same. I hope it was. That guy totally had like the whole other side of the road. He could have went around.”
“Yeah,” another deer responds, “but then Deer flung herself against a car the next night because Deer made fun of her spots. Then, the next morning, Deer ran out in front of a Fed-ex truck because Deer broke up with him. I was like, ‘Really?! Grow up!’ It is getting ridiculous around here.”
“Hey, let’s go eat that Fed-Ex guy’s garden,” another deer suggests.
Studies have shown that as many as eighty percent of the deer have seriously considered suicide as a solution to their problems. Or murder. Or a murder-suicide combo. But, really, haven’t we all at least entertained the passing thought? Are we so very different from the creatures that fling themselves against our vehicles to escape their own pain, or to try to even the score? Must we hunt these creatures down every Fall for spite and/or in furtherance of our animal-head decorating agendas? These questions beg answers.
Lawmakers say they may revisit the proposed legislation making deer eligible for Medicaid benefits. “Our primary objective is public safety;” a local politician states in support of the bill, “to decrease the number of preventable deaths, and to create jobs [for mental-health counselors] in these troubled economic times.”
“This is going to be so awesome,” a local director of a for-profit, community-based counseling firm responds. “We fully intend to maximize our profits by flooding the market. Once those new deer regs come in and we get all those counselors working for minimum wage, we’re really going to make our shareholders happy! I mean, we’re really going to be able to make a difference in the lives of those [deer and people] we serve. And that’s what it’s all about. Making a difference.”
“No, it isn’t,” our deer correspondent retorts, “it’s totally about murdering deers. Like Deer, for example. And Deer. And, of course, Deer. Witnessing that incident really opened my eyes. And sometimes it’s about how some other deers are just like – I don’t know — seriously messed up. Not trying to be mean, but if you’re that incapable of coping with the ups and downs of everyday life, it is probably for the best. It’s not like we have to go to work! We don’t even have to buy our own food! My point is that sometimes you get to eat the Fed-Ex guy’s garden, and sometimes you have to eat tree bark. And sometimes you get shot and/or get your head chopped off by some trophy-crazed guy in blaze orange while you’re standing there minding your own business, but still – come on! That’s life! You gotta roll with it.”
The 27-time deer-collision survivor and recently unemployed Fed-Ex driver could not be reached for further comment.