First, let me say that I don’t have documented evidence of any of the things I am about to write about because quite frankly, I can’t find a list, or even know if one exists, of the suicide rates over the decades or centuries. I’m sure In the 1800s and before no one even kept up with such things so what I’m about to write is from my thoughts and observations though I cannot verify them in any way other than what I’ve seen in my almost 54 years of life.
Having just lost my youngest daughter Kaitlyn to suicide 4-11-13 who was a person, in my belief, that was as far away from someone that would want to die than one can get, I have delved deeply and obsessively into researching mental illness and the possible causes, different types, different people that have taken their own lives, and the list goes on, in earnest since she died. I tend to get obsessed over things that interest me as evidenced by my blog, my book and anything else I have posted for the past 15 months anywhere.
But that was not the first time I have researched it. I graduated in 1990 at the age of 30 from nursing school. During that time some of my courses were psychology, abnormal psychology, and sociology. I did clinical in mental health facilities. After graduation I saw many people with mental illness. In 1999, I developed a full blown case of severe depression myself. I was treated for a short time, went back to work, took medications for a few months and then stopped them. (I don’t suggest ever doing this on your own, but for some reason I suffered no ill effects from this). Then I was absolutely fine for the next 10 years. Then in 2009 after working at a hospital job that was too stressful for me but I continued doing it despite the fact that I knew what it was doing to me, I had a horrible case of severe depression and anxiety. Ever since then I have suffered horribly intermittently from severe depression. Sometimes managed well with medication and counseling, sometimes not.
During all that time I researched depression and all mental illnesses all the time because I wanted to understand my disease better. I continued to work.
So Kaitlyn taking her life is not the only time I have researched this horrible disease, but it is the most extensive.
Over the last 15 months I have so often wondered why we are killing ourselves at such a rapid rate as the years go by. So many of our youth find that either by a chemical imbalance or situational circumstances, they just cannot live another day in this world. Not only are we losing our youth to suicide at alarming rates, we are also losing middle aged people and the elderly. WHY is this?
Suicide is nothing new. It dates back to the very first recorded history, but suicides of those days seemed to stem from that society’s code of honor, or not wanting to fall into the hands of the enemy and that sort of thing. Yes, a many man jumped out of windows during the depression era, but those were situations brought about by a horrible thing that struck our society and our ability to live. That situation brought about depression in men that could no longer provide for their families, or lost their millions. I would say this is situational.
I have no data, but I am almost positive that the rate of suicide was extremely low in our youth back when our country first started or back in the 1800s when just surviving took the better part of the day for every man, woman and child.
What is the problem today?
Yes, I know that we now have super-fast connections to news from around the world about all the things that happen including suicide. Many people say it just seems like our problems are so much worse because we have quicker and better access to news. But that is not altogether it. There is no way that I think suicide rates just “seem” to be higher because we have better communication and ability to hear news. The fact is, suicide rates keep going up. Just like all the other horrible things that happen; abduction, rape, murder, pedophiles and all that we hear of on a daily basis….there’s no way you can tell me that they just SEEM to be higher incidences…the fact is that they ALL happen way more than they used to and it’s getting worse.
So what is wrong?
We can no longer send our children to school without the fear of bullying and the fact that cyberbullying is so prevalent and so public now due to the internet. It is so bad that many kids kill themselves from it. Back when I was in school, there was no internet, and at least when you were bullied just your classmates knew about it, and not the whole cyber world complete with pictures.
We can’t tell our children to aim for the stars with their intelligence for fear that they will feel the great stress of not being good enough.
We can’t send our children to college without fear that the sheer stress of trying to live in a new world without family support near them and the stress of the fear of failure might not send them to the edge and they take their lives.
We can’t feel at ease if they are in graduate school of any sort due to the horrendous stress that is put on them there and from themselves. So many take their lives from this stress.
What about the depression and bipolar disorder that is so prevalent in our young people (that many times comes during late teens, early 20s) that seems to be from nowhere at all? We chalk them up as imbalances in the chemicals in our brain. But what is causing this? Are there things in our environment, things we eat, our lifestyle or anything else that are causing these imbalances?
I am left confused. But I do think that ultimately, though we think we are improving our way of life by increased technology and all other things, that we are making it so much harder on ourselves because of this technology. We can’t get away from work because of our cellphones that have us in reach within seconds. You can’t socialize on the computer or have relationships without fear of being in contact with some horrible monster that only wants to do you harm but seems wonderful. Though we think we are getting closer to more people by the internet connections, we are losing our ability to really connect to people on a personal level which leaves us feeling alone. That’s depressing to me.
On the long, long road form the east and Midwest in the 1800s, when so many people were seeking a new life on the western frontier of our country, many graves were left beside the trails of people that died along the way for whatever reason. But I doubt there were many, if any that had the sign…”died by suicide” nor did they die that way. And these were people that were facing the greatest, most horrible obstacles that one could face. But they had the drive to carry on.
What has happened to us? We as a society need to figure this out. Our future depends on it.