Slenderman & the Suicide Spirit

by admin

If there may be one fixed in each human society on the earth, is that teenage years are by no means straightforward. That is what they name it ‘Adolescence’.

For youngsters residing in Native American reservations although, on prime of all the same old rising pains you and I received to expertise, there’s the coping with endemic issues which don’t have anything to do with hormones on overdrive, or your first awkward dealings with the alternative intercourse: Poverty, unemployment, poor colleges, home violence, alcoholism and substance abuse, and so forth; however above all, being a part of a tradition that has all the time been relegated and/or denigrated by the usurpers of their land.

Which is why it isn’t shocking that suicide inside these reservations has been an alarming downside for a number of many years, particularly among the many youthful generations. By “alarming” I imply that for Native American youths, the suicide charge is greater than twice the nationwide common for different ethnic teams.


Alas, continuity brings forth familiarity –even in terms of the demise of kids by their very own hand; so it took a preoccupying current spike within the variety of suicides registered contained in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota –at least 9 deaths of youths aged between 12 to 24 years outdated since final December– for the remainder of the world to take discover. A type of tragic fatalities was Santana Janis, a 12-year-old Lakota lady who hanged herself final winter inside a small, unheated constructing, subsequent to the two-bedroom trailer the place she lived with as many as a dozen siblings and cousins below the care of Earl Tall, his grandfather.

Dying by suffocation is among the commonest types of suicide contained in the Native reservations.

Again in Might once I learn the New York Instances article about Santana’s demise, and the fear of the Pine Ridge authorities over this surge in suicides, there was one thing which caught my consideration: In looking for out whether or not cyber bullying –the novel type of digital harassment that really makes me glad the Web wasn’t round within the Eighties– had been an element behind these teenagers’ deadly resolution, members of the family and officers found an unsettling clue… pointing towards Slenderman.


If you happen to’re an everyday customer to Mysterious Universe or different Fortean blogs, then you definately’re most likely conscious of how this shadowy determine has slowly sprung his tentacles from the obscure boards of the One thing Terrible comedy web site, to extra seen platforms inside the net and different varieties of popular culture media. There is no denying the atavistic type of Slenderman –with his faceless visage, black apparel and mutating limbs– has all of the archetypical traits essential to personify our instinctual concern of the darkish, which stubbornly clings within the cavernous recess of our psyche, lengthy after we have develop into (pretty) satisfied there are not any monsters below our bed room or hiding inside our closet (I nonetheless bolt the rattling doorways shut with a lock, simply to make sure). My Each day Grail colleague, Ian “Cat” Vincent, has written a number of in-depth items about Slenderman, which I extremely suggest.

The two Wisconsin girls charged with attempted murder

However the creepy avatar took a way more sinister and severe spin final 12 months, when information broke about two teenage women from southeastern Wisconsin had one in every of their ‘associates’ deep into the woods, stabbed her 19 occasions (!), and left her for useless. The heinous crime, the teenagers confessed to the authorities as soon as their sufferer miraculously managed to tug herself out of the forest, had been deliberate as a ritual sacrifice to win the favor of Slenderman, with which that they had acquired a disturbing obsession. Whether or not this can be efficiently utilized by their authorized protection as a option to plead an absence of accountability for his or her actions, stays to be seen.

Getting again to Santana and the Pine Ridge suicides, the Slenderman connection was established by the authorities wanting into these circumstances, after they discovered that no less than {one of the} youngsters who took its personal life had been influenced by it:

“They name him the Tall Man spirit,” mentioned Chris Carey, a minister who works with youths, a few of them suicidal, on the reservation. “He’s showing to those youngsters and telling them to kill themselves.”

How the Tall Man “seems” to the teenagers, no less than the way in which the NYT article appears to suggest, is by means of movies encouraging recipients to kill themselves, distributed on Fb. Because it seems, Santana was additionally being cyber bullied by her friends via her FB wall, and one in every of them urged her to take her personal life.

“The Tall Man” can be the title of a 2012 thriller film starring Jessica Biel, which revolves round a shadowy entity mentioned to abduct kids…

The New York Instances article additionally talked about what number of Native Individuals have a perception in a ‘Suicide Spirit’, however didn’t elaborate additional. Wanting to grasp extra about this cultural phenomenon, I attempted to analysis the topic on-line; the data I dug out was scarce –brief mentions right here and there in some articles and scientific papers– however was sufficient to make me perceive the Suicide Spirit is a unfavourable, self-destructing pressure able to taking possession of people who’re going via intervals of non secular disaster. Alcoholism and substance abuse are thought-about to be ‘doorways’ with which to ask the Suicide Spirit, as they weaken the psychological and non secular defenses of its victims; those that take their very own lives are mentioned to develop into stressed ghosts and wander the afterlife in sorrow.


Now doubt, the sturdy parallels with the Christian views relating to suicide should not a coincidence, however in actual fact a direct affect of missionary indoctrination amongst Native American communities –Catholics view suicide as a mortal sin, and those that commit it are forbidden to be buried on hallowed floor.

So, what appears to be taking place here’s a cultural ‘remix’ between the older delusion of the Tall Man/Suicide Spirit which already existed amongst Native Individuals previous to the rise of the World Extensive Internet, and the newer, stronger icon of Slenderman launched to those communities via the pervasiveness of recent social networks; all this coupled with the ‘copycat’ contagion impact which arises throughout a cluster of suicides or mass shootings.


However is that every one? Since copycats are the experience of esteemed researcher and Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, I contacted him through e-mail to debate the suicides within the Pine Ridge reservation. He shortly identified to a put up he wrote for Cryptomundo in 2009, referring to sightings of a Hairy-man-like entity reported across the Native American communities surrounding Wounded Knee, the notorious place the place in 1890 between 150 and 200 hundred males, ladies and kids had been slaughtered by US Military troops.

The inhabitants of those communities referred to this tall, furry entity as ‘the Massive Man’ or ‘Strolling Sam’:

The girl, who was aged however in any other case fairly lucid, described Strolling Sam as an enormous man in a tall hat who has appeared across the reservation and brought on younger folks to commit suicides. She mentioned that Strolling Sam has been picked up on the police scanners, however the police haven’t been capable of defend the neighborhood from him. She described him as a nasty spirit. She needed assist from Washington D.C. with foot patrols for the tribal communities to guard them from Strolling Sam.

Loren, being half Japanese band Cherokee, concluded on his Cryptomundo article that Strolling Sam, except for its doable cryptozoological nature, had develop into an emblem of the non secular disaster answerable for the suicide cluster plaguing these communities, aligning with the beliefs shared to him by different Native American teams (Loren BTW has additionally written about Slenderman for Paranoia journal together with his spouse Jenny Coleman in 2014;  her article about the identical topic was printed by Fortean Instances in August of that 12 months, as a companion of Ian “Cat” Vincent’s).

As for me, the peculiar point out of the tall hat as described within the Strolling Sam accounts jogged my memory of Baron Samedi, {one of the} loas of deities within the Haitian Vodou (Voodoo) faith, which can be depicted carrying a prime hat. Samedi is the loa of the useless, and is infamous for his tricksterish methods and outrageous habits.

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Actor Geoffrey Holder, dressed as Baron Samedi within the James Bond film Dwell and Let Die

An analogous character to Samedi, no less than in look, is proven within the novel Cloud Atlas, within the type of ‘Previous Georgie’, a demonic-like entity portrayed Within the Wachowskis’ adaptation of the e-book by the incomparable Hugo Weaving. Previous Georgie is proven making an attempt to govern the habits of Zachry Bailey –one of the characters performed by Tom Hanks within the movie– by exploiting his fears.

What are we to make of all this, beside the evident merging of various cultural parts via trendy tech and globalization? We may view all of the issues I’ve offered on this article via the lens of Materialism, and on the very least conclude that symbols can develop into imbued with no matter energy we select to affiliate them with. A Man Fawkes masks, a swastika, or perhaps a memetic determine just like the Slenderman, these icons stay related and ‘alive’ for so long as the tradition permits them too.


Might or not it’s one thing extra ‘animating’ the Tall Man, although, making it able to influencing the habits of kids residing inside communities who’ve suffered from what can solely be described as ‘generational trauma’? Our trendy paradigm dictates we must always discard the potential of ‘non secular assaults’ as superstitious nonsense; then once more, the mentioned paradigm is all the time keen on reminding us we’re nothing however ‘organic robots’ and that our actions are vastly influenced by the surroundings we develop up in, the choices taken by our dad and mom BEFORE we’re even born (epigenetics) and even parasites which might ‘hack’ the nervous system of their host and switch them into veritable automatons.

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Ant managed by a fungus

If one thing as tiny as a fungus spore or a intestine micro organism can management the thoughts of a organic organism, why not one thing extra delicate? May we not entertain the potential of the Tall Man as one thing akin to ‘non secular malware’ propagating on the reservations via cyber-bullying?


If that’s the case, then what sort of ‘firewalls’ may the Pine Ridge elders increase so as to defend their youths, who’ve all the time been thought-about a sacred reward for these communities? On a more moderen replace on the scenario within the reservation, it was introduced that the US Division of Training awarded a US$218,000 greenback grant to the Pine Ridge Faculty below the company’s Mission Faculty Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program:

The grant will fund the “Lakota Manner of Life” program, a multi-faceted and holistic strategy to therapeutic based mostly on Lakota conventional tradition. 5 cultural academics, who’re additionally state-certified in related professions, comparable to social work, will every present one exercise per thirty days for 12 months, together with hands-on studying and the apply of conventional strategies of assist and therapeutic, in accordance with Bureau of Indian Affairs spokeswoman Nedra Darling.
As well as, the “Help Alliances” undertaking will present coaching to a core group of scholars on easy methods to facilitate communication amongst their friends, inside their households, and with the bigger neighborhood, she famous.

These are nice information –even although 200 grand appears somewhat low, when in comparison with different pork-barrel authorities expenditures. Nonetheless, taking inspiration to what “Cat” Vincent wrote about how folks on the Web are in search of methods to counter the unfavourable affect of Slenderman, by injecting whimsical playfulness and switch it into Splendorman, could I humbly recommend one other technique which the indigenous communities may attempt to apply: Discover a staff of younger artists residing within the rez who may produce a comic book e-book impressed by Native American cultural traditions, so as to create a superhero-like character highly effective sufficient to defeat the Tall Man/Suicide Spirit. The character might be a younger boy or a woman with cool Medication Man powers –perhaps its title might be Janis, in honor of Santana, the younger lady whose demise triggered my research– which youngsters weak to cyber bullying and melancholy may develop into recognized with, whereas on the similar time serving to them regain satisfaction for his or her ancestry and cultural heritage.

If trendy tradition is what’s shaping the type of these self-destructing forces, maybe it’s time to struggle fireplace with fireplace. Possibly it is time for Pine Ridge to get the hero it deserves, not the one it wants proper now. A Lakota Knight.

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