I have read too many stories lately of men who have lost money, gotten in over their heads in debt, lost their jobs, took a dive in the stock market, who then took the lives of family members and their own because they couldn’t deal with the loss, the shame, the sense of despair.

All this makes me wonder if our sense of values and our priorities are so out of wack that our materialism, the so-called American Dream, has turned into the American Nightmare. Too many people are putting too much emphasis on what they own and their financial status. The result is that when they make a mistake or hit hard times,they feel there is nothing more to live for.

Now we have the Lupoe family who had  home outside LA. It will take weeks before we know the real story behind this tragedy. What we know right now is that Ervin Lupoe, disraught that he and his wife both lost their jobs at a local hospital, shot and killed his five children, his wife, and then himself, but not before faxing a statement to a LA area TV station expressing his sense of dispair and hopelessness.

You can read a copy of his fax here.

Late this afternoon, the Associated Press reported that the Lupoe family was “awash in debt.”

“Detective David Cortez said Wednesday that Ervin Lupoe was at least one month behind on his mortgage. He says the 40-year-old Lupoe owed at least $15,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and thousands more on a line of credit. Lupoe and his wife, Ana, recently were fired from their hospital jobs after being investigated for lying about their income to qualify for cheaper child care.”

This information leads me to wonder if five innocent children had to die because of the financial mess created by their parents? Worse, was their parents’ sense of dispair and helplessness in part our fault because our society puts so much emphasis on material things?

How do we help people who want to feel like they matter, like they are successful human beings, see beyond the money? When someone tells a father that he “might as well blow his brains out” because he lost his job, isn’t that just one more shove over the edge from reason to insanity?

Where is our sense of humanity?