America Has a Suicide Problem.

It’s only going to get worse unless we do something.

photo by Gabriel from Unsplash.com

Every year, 30,000 people commit suicide in America (Suicide and Suicidal Behavior, Nock et al, Harvard, 2008).

1 million people commit suicide worldwide annually.

Reports from the World Health Organization indicate that suicide accounts for the largest share of intentional injury in five developed countries.

Suicide is projected to become worse in the coming decades.

Men are more likely to commit suicide than women. One exception, though, is women in middle age.

America is the only supposedly rich country in which mortality rates have been steadily rising over the last couple of decades (Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Anne Case and Angus Deaton- two Princeton professors). All other rich countries are seeing life expectancy rise. America is the only one in which it is falling, via deaths of despair (meaning, death by suicide, alcohol, or drugs).

Studies in adolescents suggest the lifetime prevalence of suicide ideation in America falls in the range of 19.8–24 percent. This is startlingly high.

So, of course, the question is: why are suicide rates skyrocketing in this country? Hint: you need to read Deaths of Despair to find out. I cannot recommend this well researched, in-depth, riveting read enough. In the meantime though, some speculation.

It could be dwindling opportunities for people in this country. The staggering student loan debt that shackles most people with a lifetime of debt. The housing crisis (cost of housing has risen 40 percent over the last decade, while wages have stayed largely the same). Our terrible healthcare system, which robs people blind, lowers wages and is the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country. The opioids crisis absolutely has something to do with it. The state of our climate is in crisis, which is obvious if one just reads. People with less education are especially prone to deaths of despair in this country.

(Start reading The Atlantic or The New Yorker, two superb, unbiased, well-researched publications to learn much more about these issues, because knowledge is power, and without knowing, you have no power to see or act).

34 percent of lifetime ideators go on to make a plan for suicide.

And then 72 percent of people who make a plan then make an attempt. So, making a plan is damning. It’s an accelerator of sorts.

Nearly 20 percent of high school students report 12-month suicide ideation and suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.

Again, why might this be?

Something is very much amiss here in America, with hoards of people deciding to take their own life. Suicide indicates a perceived lack of hope. An immense sensation of lacking options. A belief of no way out. An assumption that nothing will get better.

America has a weak social safety net as compared with numerous other rich countries. Capitalism funnels money into the pockets of the rich, not doing much to redistribute it to the rest of civilization. Healthcare is dependent on unemployment. There is currently no protection from eviction for those who have lost jobs because of COVID (other countries have enacted such protections). Our country has turned into a divided, hateful, angry, ignorant one.

For all of these reasons, and likely a plethora of reasons I do not even know, as well as, ones we cannot see, which run under the surface, something is fractured and deeply sick in our country. And people are choosing to take their own lives because of it.

We must do something if we are to stop this loss of human life. If we are to offer people the opportunities and well-being, the security they deserve.

Healthcare should be a basic human right. Same with education.

America is one of the only supposedly rich countries that does not see it this way. We could change this. Instead, we see them as luxuries. As opportunities to make the rich richer, and bankrupt others in the process.

This is not a country that is structured for health and well-being, for equality and equal opportunity, for joy and fulfilling lives. Instead, it is very much the opposite. And no, voting for Joe Biden will not fix this. It is much, much more than the singular one person who sits in the President’s chair. All of us have much power within our voices, to protest, to challenge, to demand better. To go on strikes. To refused to go along with the crappy status quo any longer.

What are we waiting for?

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

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