Every holiday season, there’s always some completely bizarre, ridiculous, or horrifying story involving holiday shopping. From Black Friday stampedes to fist fights over Furbys, these stories typically say more about those specific humans and, perhaps, our society than as a whole than anything relating to the actual holidays. This year, the season’s terrifying story comes from Xuzhou, China, where a man identified as Tao Hsiao jumped to his death after his girlfriend requested that the pair go look at some shoes.
According to the Chinese website Hexun, Tao Hsiao, 38, wanted to go home, but his girlfriend wanted to continue shopping at the Golden Eagle International Shopping Center. The man “demanded” they go home, but his partner said they should check out one more shoe store where a deal was going on. An eyewitness is quoted as saying that that’s when the couple begin arguing:
“He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes that she could wear in a lifetime and it was pointless buying any more.
“She started shouting at him accusing him of being a skinflint and of spoiling Christmas, it was a really heated argument.”
Security footage shows Hsiao then dropping the shopping bags he had been holding and jumping off the balcony, landing seven floors below. No one else was harmed, but Hsiao died instantly.
It is obviously a tragic, horrible thing that this man felt compelled to commit suicide, but how often have we all been in positions where we may want to go home, but our parents, partners or friends wanted to stay out? It’s really easy to blame Tao Hsiao’s girlfriend for his actions, but it’s important to remember that mental illness may have played a huge factor in the man’s emotional instability. Perhaps he had an untreated condition and being in a stressful environment caused him to have a breakdown or panic attack. We may have a snapshot of the few moments leading up to his death, not his psychological state in the preceding months.
However, lots of outlets and commenters have been angling the situation in a way that places blame onto the girlfriend. Here’s a sampling of titles and quotes:
- Boyfriend Jumps to Death After Girlfriend Demands More Christmas Shopping
- Chinese guy had enough of Girlfriend’s shopping; commits suicide.
- Man Commits Suicide IN MALL Over SHOP-A-HOLIC Girlfriend
- Tao apparently could not handle any more name-calling — or shopping for that matter.
- Harassed boyfriend jumped to his death after his girlfriend insisted on going into another clothes shop
- Man Jumps 7 Stories to His Death to Escape Shopping More After 5 Hours at Mall With Girlfriend
- Upset Boyfriend Commits Suicide In Mall After Clothes Shopping Argument
You get the idea. Basically, people are insinuating that because his girlfriend didn’t want to leave the mall, she’s why he killed himself.
There are so many reasons people feel suicidal, depressed or anxious; simply blaming one person in their lives, who is not doing anything illegal or violent or particularly wrong beyond being inconsiderate and selfish, does a disservice to the deep, internal frustrations and problems people with mental illness face. Instead, it just brushes off this man’s suicide as being all because of one person’s actions on one particular day, minimizing it as an entirely reactive action rather than complex and impossible to completely understand given its personal, internal nature. And in this case, it turns it into a sensationalized “holiday shopping story” to gawk at while placing blame.