Tell Me It’s Not an Epidemic

I don’t know if it has hit other people as hard as it’s hit me, but it seems to me like hardly a day goes by without suicide being in the news.  There’s been a rash of celebrity suicides – the young woman from The Bachelor, the actor from Rizzoli and Isles, a young Bollywood star, a pair of radio co-hosts.  Those are the ones that get the attention because the people involved are well-known.  But every day, for every one of those celebrity suicides there are so many of others.

My friend Angela lost her fiancé Jon approximately two months after Tony died.  He took his own life after leaving only a brief note for her.  Today Angela found out that Jon’s cousin took his own life, too, leaving behind his wife and two young daughters.

My heart is broken for them.  How can it ever heal, when every single day thousands of other lost and lonely people make that same irreversible decision?  I am not exaggerating.  The probably-underestimated total is one million suicides a year worldwide.  That’s two thousand seven hundred thirty nine.  Each and every day, 365 days a year.  And the number is growing. 

How on earth is this not something we’re talking about?  Reporting on a celebrity’s death is one thing, but if nobody is bothering to put it in the larger context in which it belongs, we might as well not be talking about it at all. 

There are diseases that lead to suicide.  Things like depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, substance abuse and others.  We marginalize all of these things.  Tomorrow I am going to post some pictures of the human brain to illustrate why these diseases of the brain are physical, and must be treated with the same compassion, the same care, and the same coverage as any other ailment of the human body. 

Update: I just heard from someone in the comments section who said she has considered suicide and that she feels there would be nobody who would miss her. If you feel that way, even for a second, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). They are there 24 hours a day every day. The world cannot bear your loss. Please get help.


7 thoughts on “Tell Me It’s Not an Epidemic

  1. People need to have this information. If it saves one life, if one person avoiding therapy for depression, substance abuse and the other disease you state above, it is worth sharing. with your permission, I will share on facebook and with some friends by email to pass along. Love you, miss Tony and hold you both dear in my heart ❤ ❤ Madre/MD

    • I guarantee, there are more people to miss you than you know. My Tony felt the same way you did, and he couldn’t have been more wrong. There was such an outpouring of love and sorrow and disbelief and loss after he died. You are the same. You are loved. Depression lies. Please get some help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and there are people there 24 hours a day. If you have thought about suicide at all, please don’t delay getting help. It’s too easy to miss seeing how close to the edge you are. Sending love and strength to you.

  2. I haven’t quite gotten that close, but it has been a fleeting thought occasionally. It can be difficult beyond belief to hear anything other than the lies. My darkest days diddn’t bring suicidal thoughts so much as “it wouldn’t matter if I died,” or “I just want this pain to end.” Over the years, that has been primarily emotional pain, although I’m currently doing okay. Having physical pain added to the mix doesn’t exactly perk me up, but I also know it’s not nearly as bad as it could be, so I try to hold onto that thought.

  3. I commend you for shining the light on this hidden epidemic and particularly for directing people who may be suicidal to the hotline.

    I have battled bipolar for over two decades now. I attempted suicide once, prompted by a “voice” assuring me God would accept me if I did it. It is only by the mysterious grace of God that I was brought back from death.

    I fully agree most (if not all) suicide attempts flow from clinical disorders that need be better addressed – within the medical community as well as by the public at large.

    At the same time, there are deep spiritual needs that are completely ignored. A person who either has a distorted image of God or who has concluded that the universe would be better off without him/her is not likely to be convinced rationally to “choose life” when release from pain seems so appealing.

    Thanks for addressing this vial issue.

  4. Pingback: A Labor Day Mental Health Monday | A Way With Words

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