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Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Writer Suicide Rate Doubles America’s Ballooning Total
the loss of Prince potentially due to an overdose of pills – presumably
accidentally – it rekindles the age-old debate about creative types and
reckless behavior. But let’s take it a
step further and look at suicide and the writer.
study was published on suicide and mental illness around four years ago in the Journal of PsychiatricResearch. It was based on the work of the Karolinska
Institute in Sweden. It slowed that
authors were almost twice as likely to commit suicide as the general
consider that suicide in the United States has dramatically increased over the
past 16 years. A new study shows that
the suicide total of 29,000 in 1999 has risen sharply to 42,000 last year. This is almost a 50% increase. The suicide rate, which is adjusted, based on a growing population, jumped more than 24% - from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000
most frustrating thing about suicide is that it is preventable and even with
all of the public outcry to improve mental illness treatment, even with all of
the medicated Americans, and even with all of the therapists, counselors, and
psychiatrists available, and even with the declining public stigma of getting help for mental
illness, we have failed miserably to help those who obviously need help.
can speculate on any number of reasons why people kill themselves. For some, it
could be a crappy marriage, the loss of a job, an addiction gone wild, or any
reason and no reason at all. Suicide is
not rationale and is induced by mental imbalance. But why are so many more people imbalanced,
and why are so many pushed to their doom?
do have an increase in psychologically damaged veterans returning home from a decade-and-a-half of fighting terrorism wars. We did have a Great
Recession that killed dreams and hopes.
We still have many problems, as a society and as individuals, that if not
addressed, can get out of control and lead to one believing that ending their
life is a better option than to live with pain, loss, or a broken heart.
we missing something here? Is life
itself the problem? Does life cause
suicide? Does the toll of life burden so
many people to the point of no return?
Is it chemical, like a toxic pollutant that gets into our system and
leads to out-of-control behavior? Could
suicide not be a mental issue at all, but a physical one, one based on the
why do writers choose to kill themselves twice as often as the average
person? Is writing itself a symptom, or
even a cause, of mental illness?
uncle committed suicide when I was just five years old. I learned a lesson early on about death that
will stay with me until the end of my days comes. But I know my death will not come at my own
hand. I learned that we are bigger than
life’s troubles and I know that there can be some hellish scenarios that could
tempt us to see death as relief. But we
get this one life to live. Reincarnation
may be possible, but nothing is certain. I choose to live this life fully and
I don’t blame anyone for taking their lives.
Everyone has their threshold of pain. But I bet most victims would alter
their plans if they had hope or love or support in their lives. Still, for some, a disease, an injury, a
personal loss or even a professional shortfall tests their resolve and seems overly
Writers, if they didn’t write, would probably kill themselves at double the rate they
already die at. Writing is a salvation
to many. It’s our therapy, our passion,
our artistry, and our way of seeing the world and sharing it with others. It’s our cry for help. It Is the legitimization
and validation of our pain, suffering, and shattered lives.
came across a web site that listed hundreds of writers who either attempted
suicide or killed themselves. You may recognize
list can get really long. It’s not just the famous, award-winning or best-selling
writer that takes his life. It’s the amateur writer, the unknown poet, and the
person struggling to be heard and seen.
For some, fame and fortune accelerates their demise; and for others it is
their failed pursuit of such things that expedites their dark ending.
have a great ability to rescript the world and imagine it in a way that it
never has been and may never be able to become. They have a gift and a talent
that can be shared with so many others. If only they could appreciate their
writings in a way that others are impacted by their words and ideas.
every book is a portion of a long suicide note.
For many writers, that note is never completed but all too often, the
note is finished before they can fully share their works with others.
has a suicide and mental health problem. We have failed to contain it. On a mass scale, society has unequivocally
dropped the ball. Can we merely throw
dollars, doctors, and drugs at the problem?
Suicide is winning by huge numbers.
You can’t point to something specific and say if we fix that we fix the
problem. How could we go backwards and
fail so many people?
is the exclamation point to the bigger issue – society suffers from mass depression. I know, not everyone is sick, sad, or crazy
but tens of millions are suffering or at risk.
Maybe the answer is not to treat depression but to treat life. Something
is deficient in the world that leads so many people to lose hope, faith, and
would think that our lives are supposed to be better.
it’s technology and the digital era that’s killing people off. The meteoric, suicide rate coincides with the
period of time that the majority of the population has been connected online.
it’s the terrorism era. Could we be
self-imploding because we fear terrorists are coming for us?
it’s something in our genetically-altered foods, the global warning
environment, or the oversized lightweight T.V. in our homes.
it’s none of that. The mental health community obviously has no clue because it
has failed us miserably.
our improved society is to blame. As we have more laws to protect ethnic minorities, the LGBT community, pot-smokers, and women – and as it becomes more publicly
acceptable to be different, if not weird – we have an increase in people killing
themselves. I thought the opposite was
supposed to happen. It seems as life
became easier for us on a socially accepted level we instead have retreated
deeper into depression. What the hell is wrong with us?
wonder if my writing could ever save a life.
What could I say that would lead people to veer off their suicidal path?” Maybe one day I’ll need inspiring or
encouraging words to pull me from the brink of reckless despair.
and feng shui experts tell us how to employ better surroundings and environments
for maximum living potential.
Psychologists tell us to reduce stress and meditate. Religion tells us to have faith in God and
community. Sports and Hollywood distract
us in useful ways. So we have all of these
industries and experts to make us feel good and enjoy life, but again I
ask: What went wrong? How are we, citizens of one of the greatest
nations in modern history, so screwed up that we can’t even choose life over
we need more therapy dogs? The pet
population is at a record number but so is suicide. Comfort food sales remain high, but so is the
suicide rate. Our exposure to new ideas,
health information, and resources to prevent or heal from depression is on the
rise, but so is suicide.
numbers just don’t add up. Sometimes
pieces of our lives don’t add up either.