(The Virgin Suicides)
What’s the Matter with Her?
That’s a tricky one…
Since the movie only offers the point of view of a few clueless boys, there is not a lot of succinct evidence that can be used to favor any particular diagnosis. The best fit for Lux is probably Major Depressive Disorder, or depression. There is not anything to suggest that Lux is hallucinating or losing touch with reality, but plenty to suggest that she experiences melancholic, hopeless feelings associated with depression.
Major Depressive Disorder
Most of our information about Lux is hearsay, so instead of listing the symptoms she has, it seems more relevant to list the causes of depression, and the risk factors that make someone more susceptible to it:
*Changes in hormones
As a fourteen year-old girl, Lux is going through or has recently undergone puberty. This is a tumultuous time for any adolescent, when hormones are out-of-whack and syncing up in preparation for adulthood.
At the beginning of the movie, Lux’s baby sister kills herself.
In additon, Lux’s budding sexuality brings her into the unreliable arms of Trip Fontaine. It is with Trip that Lux loses her virginity, then is abandoned on the school football field (…Touchdown?). She does not hear from Trip again (Penalty? Foul? Whatever, that’s not cool).
*Not socializing, loneliness, having few friends
While these risk factors are imposed by Lux’s parents, they still put her on the frontlines of depression.
When Lux arrives at the Lisbon house after the Homecoming dance well past curfew, her parents prevent all the girls from attending their regular classes. Besides the boys across the street that communicate sporadically with them, the girls have no friends and no other way to interact with their peers without the social opportunities offered by school.
Suicide Pacts and Groupthink
It is possible that the Lisbon girls make a suicide pact, which is an agreement that all of them will die together. There is not enough to prove this from the movie, but it is prudent to consider suicide pacts whenever groups of people kill themselves, especially within the same time frame.
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon in which the beliefs of a few people are forced upon others, and in an effort to remain part of the group, individuals that might disagree with the beliefs keep silent.
Like most of the film, this idea is cloaked in question marks. Lux grew up in a closed-off world where boys weren’t allowed, so love and lust were repressed. Since the girls basically only socialize with each other, they may all have the same negative interpretations about male and female interactions that arise from Lux’s tryst with Trip. Not understanding why boys might hesitate to connect with them could contribute to the girls’ overall state of sadness (It’s a tough mystery even when you’re not trapped in your own house).
Nature vs. Nurture
This much-argued concept disputes between whether the environment in which someone is raised or the people doing the raising have the most effect on how someone develops into an adult.
Based on the way Lux is nurtured, she becomes enveloped in a mood disorder, so the film poses the idea that the way Lux and her sisters are raised has a detrimental effect on their outcome. Same parents, same outcome – five times over.
Why Just Lux…?
Her relationship with Trip makes Lux a central focus of the movie, more so than any of her sisters. However, with the subtraction of Trip, the arguments made for Lux that relate to her upbringing could also be made for Cecilia, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese.
To avoid confusion, the author decided to focus on Lux alone (It’s still kind of confusing).