Suicide in America

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the overall suicide rate has increased by 25% in the US and by more than half in some states. It means that around 16 out of every 100,000 Americans will take their own life. Nearly 45,000 Americans of all ages, genders, races and and ethnic groups took their own life in 2016 alone. There were 25 states that had increases of more than 30%. Nearly all of those states are in the western and Midwestern regions of the US.

Relationship issues, financial troubles and rural origin (isolation, lack of healthcare) tend to be top factors contributing to suicide across the country. Mental health systems are struggling, there is a stigma associated with mental health, and training for mental health professionals is poor.

Then there are the guns. A vast majority of deaths from firearms are suicides. In fact, two-thirds of gun-related deaths in America are suicides. While there is a relationship between serious mental illness and suicidal behaviour, the suicide rate cannot solely be put down it. Economic conditions or livelihood opportunities in decline are also factors, along with substance abuse, poor physical health, job and legal problems.

Encouraging people to go to therapy and using mental health professionals to help “change dysfunctional thinking” seems a sensible goal, and – heaven knows how you do it – helping people to feel connected and belonging to a caring community is another important objective. (based on a BBC item, 9 June 2018)

Strange. Back in the 1960s America was known for its community spirit, which came across to me forcibly, traveling around the country on two extended occasions, hitch-hiking and meeting people of all ages and conditions. The feeling of togetherness was very strong and a startling change from the reserved nature of middle class life in England. What on Earth happened to turn an all-jolly-together country into a mass of isolated individuals living in a more crude and more harsh environment (I exaggerate a bit)? The decline of religion, maybe? The loss of jobs, where you work with others? Increased crime? In the old days homelessness was rare. Now it is everywhere in the cities. American military power encompasses most of the world, while society falls apart at home.

The urge to bring the whole system crashing down (e.g elect a President that will do just that) is a symptom of rural desperation and the suicide phenomenon? But what to do about it?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.