February 15, 2016
Dr. Donald Young (quoted below) left a comment at Brock tonight on this story/post.
“Dr. Donald Young says
February 14, 2016 at 11:21 pm
Obviously I cannot comment on this matter without knowing more facts. I can only say that the situation that many Americans abroad experience due to FACTA and the threats made by the U.S. government will clearly have negative emotional consequences for many and at times severely so. I can attest to this as I have seen and treated it clinically. The possibility of suicidal thinking and behaviour comes as no surprise to me from a psychiatric perspective. The fact of being threatened by the strongest and most aggressive nation in the world is unsettling for even the most psychologically robust individual. Those prone to anxiety, depression, physiological responses to stress and other difficulties ( and this likely involves a quarter of the population at least ) will be all the more vulnerable to the irrational threats and demands of the American government. We are being threatened with economic ruin, branded as criminals and told we will be hunted down. This situation results in a prolonged degree of stress that will have deleterious emotional and often physical stress that will certainly take its toll.The fact that there are often no clear answers as to what to do or how to do it only worsens the emotional upset and results in a form or learned helplessness. We may well have just witnessed a tragic result of what the American government is doing to people who simply want to live in peace and leave their former country behind, assuming they ever even lived in it. And from what I can see there is no solution and no save harbour in sight.
The first part of this story was relayed in the post “Perhaps After Reading This You Could Suggest a Title for This Post. As you may already know, the father of an expatriate in Sweden left 2 letters as a comment, written to his Senator informing her his son had been considerably disturbed by FATCA and had committed suicide out of desparation.
Jonathan Andrew Prince was born in California on February 26,1969. He attended university as an undergrad at “Cal Poly” and went to Sweden to further his studies in brain chemistry and obtain his Ph.D. He remained in Sweden, married, had two children and a career at the Karolinska Institutet. Some have questioned whether this story is a hoax; whether Jonathan was a real person; did he work at the Karolinska Institute and so on. All I can say is that to the best of my knowledge, based upon my conversations and emails with his father and my own searching on the internet, he most definitely was a real person. His obituary notice is linked at the end of this post.He passed away on June 20, 2015. Here are a few links that speak to his work:
Further, some claim he could not possibly have done what he did due to “tax problems.” Or that it is not fair to claim that this was the result of FATCA because it almost certainly was due to some mental or emotional instability. My response to that is no competent therapist would ever separate a person’s actions from all the accompanying features of the person’s life. The mental and emotional states are intimately interlinked with the conditions of one’s employment, family dynamic and so on. It is not truly possible to separate the outside experiences of one’s life from their inner state. Here is a description of how a psychologist sees the effects of U.S. tax policy affecting expats.This comment was made in the context of the 2 meetings that were organized to offer people a chance to talk openly without any fear of being exposed; June 15, 2013 & March 29, 2014 (which Dr. Young was scheduled for but missed due to illness).
All of the emphases are mine:
In the words of Dr. Donald Young
For those U.S citizens who have elected to live abroad, be it in Canada or elsewhere, American tax policy can place such individuals in a position that engenders constant and severe emotional stress. The vindictiveness of the U.S. position, its unfairness and irrationality, the fact that neither the U.S. government nor tax and legal experts even know the rules and how to rationally proceed, and the constant threat of economic calamity are all factors that can be emotionally devastating. From my observations over the years in people ensnared in this situation, and I would count myself among us, it is common to experience substantial anxiety, depression, feelings of panic and foreboding, guilt over being branded a cheat and a criminal, fear, anger, resentment, and general feelings of helplessness and confusion. I have in fact seen some people who have become virtually suicidal at the prospect of losing everything for the “crime” of not paying taxes to a country they have not lived in for decades if ever at all. I am a clinical psychologist licensed to practice in Ontario with 35 years of experience. I have also been appointed an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. In recent years I have had the opportunity to discuss and address these problems with many individuals who are trapped in these tragic circumstances
Along with John I am happy to make myself available in any of the forums or meetings that will be forthcoming. There is always strength in numbers and sometimes much can be gained by discussing common problems together in a group. I am also happy to chat or work with people individually with these concerns.
This is a link to the obituary . I am trying to post an actual picture but it is not coming out clearly enough to read. Will work on this.
One last thing for today. Many have commented as to how they cannot understand (or even don’t believe this story because of this) how a father could do such a thing with two young children. I suspect those who outright disbelieve it do not actually have children. Any honest parent will admit to the difficulty of the constant sacrifice required and how sometimes it simply is too much. Parents are not saints and they suffer the same myriad of issues as anyone else. And it is common knowledge in the counselling world that people who commit suicide feel extreme guilt at being the source of a problem, so the solution, in order to protect, is to take themselves out of the equation. No one would question a parent putting themself in front of a car to protect a child (even one who wasn’t their own). On a certain level, it is exactly the same thing. Life is not neat and tidy and clear sometimes.