Kathryn Lopez

"He was just kind of left by himself," a friend of Richard Shoop commented to reporters.

I never met Shoop, but I nearly ran into him a few nights ago at a Nordstrom in Paramus, N.J. He had just shot a rifle in the air there, starting a mass panic and police lockdown that ended in Shoop committing suicide. Like every other customer and worker in the mall at the time of the incident, I'm unharmed -- Shoop evidently wasn't prepared to hurt anyone but himself. I just can't get Shoop off my mind.

Based on the media testimony of family and friends, Shoop seemed like he was trying to be functional. He went to work and lived his life. But he would fall into addiction, violence and confusion. And he's not alone.

In her book Men on Strike, Dr. Helen Smith writes that in 2010, more than 38,000 people killed themselves in the United States -- more than 30,000 of them men. Why would Shoop choose to terrorize a mall before taking his own life? Perhaps because we don't notice people until they do something really crazy.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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