Why do people decide they do not want to live anymore? Is it to hurt those who hurt them? Is it to escape life? Is it because they are cowards?
The answer is no. People who die by suicide haven’t decided they don’t want to live, nor are they striking out at those who hurt them. And as for them being cowardly? You’re kidding, right? Can you honestly say a weak and cowardly person would face the great unknown of death? Hell no.
So, what is the driving force behind suicide? What is the truth? Can we end it?
I’m going to discuss suicide in this article and the main reasons and viable solutions we can do to end this national tragedy.
The Statistics of Suicide
The following statistics are freely available on the internet.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that 800,000 people die every year by suicide. In other words, one person every forty seconds dies, and this has become a global phenomenon. To make matters worse, there are indications that for every person who died by suicide, there are twenty others who attempt it.
The American Psychological Association reported in 2018 that the suicide rate in the United States had increased 33% since 1999 encapsulating fourteen deaths per 100,000 people. Suicide is not the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35-54 and the second leading cause of death for 10-year old kids.
That isn’t the only unwelcome news regarding suicide. Suicide is not the tenth leading cause of death in the United States for all ages, and one person dies by suicide in the U.S. every twelve minutes. In fact, suicide takes the lives of over 44.965 Americans every year. An estimated 250,000 people every year survive suicide and for every suicide, there are an estimated 25 attempts to die by suicide.
If the above statistics do not move you, then there is something wrong because suicide is quickly becoming the number one a world and United States tragedy.
Lack of Mental Health Care is a Reason Suicide Rates are Climbing
In rural America, mental health professionals are either non-existent, or they are so unreliable as to make any attempt at psychotherapy impossible. When I say unreliable, I mean that mental health professionals will work at a clinic for a few months to a year and decide to move on. They move to where they can make more money and have more opportunities. They do not stay when they exist at all.
There are whole swaths of the United States where there is no access to mental health care at all like vast areas of the southwest and some southern states. Alaska? Forget it. There isn’t enough money to be had in these areas that have a low population and are agricultural in scope.
The results? Farmers, youths, veterans, pastors, and the elderly are dying by suicide at an ever-increasing rate.
To end the tragedies happening in underserved areas of the U.S., we must first find ways to give mental health professionals a reason to remain in rural America.
Disconnection One Reason Suicide Rates are Climbing
People have been speculating, and governments are spending millions trying to figure out why so many people are choosing to end their lives and die by suicide. The actual reason the suicide rates are increasing is right in front of our eyes; we have become disconnected from each other.
Human beings are social animals; we rely on each other to fulfill our need for companionship especially family members and friends. Electronics have taken that need away and robbed us of our togetherness, for lack of a better term.
Humans need to be physically with one another, laughing and talking face to face. With the advent of smartphones and other devices came a sudden disconnect from our need for touch and interaction in person. Phones and the internet were supposed to bring people closer together as we can connect to one another all over the world. While that is true, we have lost the precious moments of sitting together and enjoying one another’s company.
I want to challenge my readers to consider their behavior. Does your family sit down together at least once a day at the table with no electronics to enjoy a meal together? Or do each member of the family eat alone or with their nose firmly planted to the screen of an electronic device? When was the last time you and your children or spouse had an in-depth, meaningful discussion without an electronic device in sight?
We must reconnect if we want to end the tragedy of suicide.
Three Possible Solutions to the Crisis of Suicide in America
I belong to a suicide prevention group in Illinois that is well-meaning but missing the point when it comes to ending or at least lessening the deaths by suicide in the state. Millions have been spent sitting about board room tables discussing suicide prevention plans, but no one is looking at the real causes and solutions. Raising awareness is vital, yes, but just as important are reconnecting people and giving them something for which to live.
The first possible solution is to discourage parents from purchasing and using electronic devices (including televisions) as babysitters. Parents need to spend more time talking and engaging with their children so that all involved will be healthier and happier. Put down the smartphone, tablet, computer, etc. and engage with your kids and enjoy their company. Children who feel needed, wanted, respected, and listened to in childhood grow up to feel happy about themselves and their lives.
If children only have electronics to engage with, I guarantee they will grow up isolated, alone, and prone to suicidal thoughts and actions.
Second, We also need to spend millions promoting the fact that all people are valuable, no matter who they are and where they live. People aren’t just relevant if they have money, a job, a paycheck, are a particular religion, or any other demographic line that is dividing the United States today. People are valuable simply because they are alive, and we need to dig in and promote that fact to everyone young and old. Caring about one another is a marvelous way to send a vital message; you are needed, you are wanted, you are loved.
Third, we need to find monetary ways to give incentives to mental health professionals to remain in rural areas of our country and help those who need it. Without adequate mental health care, people will continue to feel they have no choice but to take their own lives. It is a proven fact that people who have a psychotherapist to speak to about how they are feeling saves lives. Let’s give monetary incentives such as tax breaks or even bonuses from the government to psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers to help our nation recover and heal.
The United States today is splintered along political lines like never before as neighbors feel isolated and afraid to speak to each other for fear a fight might result. People are scared to sit in a restaurant and have a meal or even go shopping together for fear someone will shoot them. Life in the United States is hazardous, but it will not get any better unless we unite.
Suicide need not claim the lives of our children, youths, teenagers, adults, and seniors. We have chosen this way of life; we can un-choose it. May we band together as human beings and hold each other up instead of attempting to destroy one another.
Put down the electronics and hold your children. Put down the electronics and eat dinner together. Put down the electronics and talk about the dangers of not putting them down.
Our society is going to end if we do not reconnect. This phrase is correct because when one of us dies by suicide humanity and society are cheated of that person’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and smiles.
“We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same and worth saving.” ~ J.K. Rowling
“Even if you cannot change all the people around you, you can change the people you choose to be around. Life is too short to waste your time on people who don’t respect, appreciate, and value you. Spend your life with people who make you smile, laugh, and feel loved.” ~ Roy T. Bennett