It’s the anniversary of the day that Robin Williams committed suicide so it seems like a good time to talk about this a little, it’s also less than a month from the day my brother took his life eleven years ago. With a new baby at home I’ve been thinking a lot about my brother, he was thirty five when he died and now I am seven years older than he will ever be. I’ve been through a divorce, I’ve had two daughters, and I’ve found someone to share my life with and some small degree of happiness. Through the process of grieving and helping others to cope I found my best friend for life and together, well mostly her actually, we started this site. Several of the most momentous and life changing events have happened to me in these last eleven years and specifically in the last seven years. My first daughter was born, my second daughter was born, I went through a divorce, Steve Jobs enslaved mankind with his iPhone, Pizza Hut came out with a hot dog crust pizza, and many more exciting and dramatic things have happened, I just can’t think of them all at the moment. Granted a hot dog crust pizza may not be the most life altering thing to have hit humanity, but it’s given me a lot of pleasure to see the looks on peoples faces when I tell them about it I can tell you that much. They seem torn between wanting to try it and genuine despair for humanity.
My point is this. The world has changed in a mere eleven years, and he missed it, all of it. He missed the good and the bad, the absurd and the amusing. He will always be thirty five and he’ll never have a chance to eat a hot dog crust pizza or at least make fun of it.
So lets talk about suicide. The CDC compiles the information about it and the latest data is from 2013, you can peruse it yourself at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here’s a quick overview.
Suicide is overwhelmingly committed by males. 78% of all suicides are male, and while females are three times more likely than males to attempt suicide they account for less than a quarter of actual suicides, that’s pretty staggering facts. Just let that sink in a bit. Just by being male you are four times more likely than a female to commit suicide, and if you are a white male in America you account for 70% of all suicides.
Age and location is also a big factor, the highest rates of suicide are grouped between 45 and 64 (the highest) and 85 and up (second highest). Montana has the highest suicide rate of any state at 23.7 per 100,000 and the District of Columbia the lowest at 5.8 per 100,000.
There is even data on how people commit suicide, in the U.S. firearms account for the majority of suicides at 51.5% which is 27 percentage points higher than the next method which is suffocation. In countries where firearms are inconveniently not available suffocation takes their place such as in the UK.
My point is this. It doesn’t matter. All the facts and the figures, all the prevention methods, all of it, meaningless. This isn’t a popular stance I know, but it’s realistic. We cannot prevent most suicides by talking to people. Anyone that can be talked out of suicide most likely wasn’t going to do it in the first place. Typically suicide is not a spontaneous action. For the most part it is very well planned out and executed. There is always exceptions to the rules, but that’s exactly what they are, exceptions. Suicide is not going to be cured by talking. Suicides will be eliminated when we figure out how to cure the underlying cause, not the result. The result is suicide, the cause is mental illness. Cure one and the other goes away.
In the meantime lets concentrate on working with people who have been effected by a suicide and helping promote mental health. We can effect change in these areas. I’m not saying we should get rid of suicide hotlines and support because there are people out there that still need them. What I’m saying is lets concentrate on being effective and curing the root of the problem.
That’s just my two cents.
Filed under: Depression, friendship, grief, Mental Health, One to Six | Tagged: Grief Loss and Bereavement, Mental Health, Suicide Prevention, suicide survivors | 2 Comments »