Suicide: What is happening to us over the Years?

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.

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About gatito2

My name is Rhonda. I'm a registered nurse, for the last 20 years, that has not been able to work since the day I learned of my daughter's death by suicide 4-12-13. (She actually died 4-11-13 and her body was not found until the 12th) Me and my husband have been married for 32 years and he's a wonderful man. We grieve in different ways. He works, I write. This is my journey through this horrible land of losing a child..
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14 Responses to Suicide: What is happening to us over the Years?

  1. phoenix42013 says:

    Excellent post and great questions. First i would like to say I am so sorry for your loss I know how you feel my best friend took her life March of this year and her death trigger several of my mental illness that I kept tucked away and pretend that I did not have an issue. I’ve contemplated and attempted suicide several times and have failed every time until recently I just decided that I need help and received the appropriate treatment. Thanks for shedding light on such a much needed topic. Sending positive vibes your way – Phoenix

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  2. gatito2 says:

    Thank you so much. And I am so glad that you are getting help. That is so important. My daughter never sought help and never let anyone know she was depressed.

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  3. phoenix42013 says:

    You are so welcome. It was not until recently my depression got worse that I knew help was what I needed. Stay Strong – Phoenix

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  4. AnnetteM says:

    A good thought provoking post, Rhonda. I am sure you are right about things getting worse and I am sure there are many reasons for it. In some cases like schizophrenia (which my brother had) the chemical imbalance in the brain can be given as a reason, but I believe it can be stress that triggers the illness in the first place.
    If a plant is stressed through either lack of water or food then it becomes more susceptible to attack by viruses and insects – even snails are less likely to eat a healthy, happy plant. Us humans are the same, stress causes illness, both physical and mental. I am sure in the past there was as much, if not more stress but it was different.For one thing, people did a lot more physical work which is so good for both your mental and physical health. Large extended families lived closer together, whereas now people here often don’t even live near their immediate family. (My eldest son is married and living in Japan and my second one is planning a move to Canada). And, as you say the rise of computers and the internet is to blame for many of the stresses felt by people today. I could go on, but this is a comment and not a book. Talking of which, have you ever thought about writing another book? You have so much to say and you say it so well.

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  5. gatito2 says:

    Thank you Annette. I think you are so right about everything you just wrote. Stress can do horrible things to a person. And you have a VERY good point about extended family members (and even close family members) not living with or close to each other anymore. People these days take for granted all the support one has from family that is near. Once upon a time, the parents, a set of grandparents and the children all lived in one house and the wisdom of the grandparents was so valuable. I could go on and on too. There are so many reasons we are isolated today, and we all falsely think that we are so much more connected. Thank you for those reflections.

    No, I’ve not thought of writing another book. I think Kaitlyn wrote my last one because I was so driven to write it. Thank you though.

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  6. Jean Rumsey says:

    Hi Rhonda,
    Please accept my condolences regarding your beautiful daughter.
    I have read your posts for over a year since my daughters boyfriend passed from suicide, and she had two unsuccessful attempts. We loved and adored him very much and had no inclination and we are devastated.
    I am also 54, and graduated from nursing school at 30 and agree with your posts. I too seek to understand to find answers to somehow help others.
    One reason I believe there are more suicides today correlate with “life after death” stories, books, articles where people clinically dead come back and tell their stories of Utopia, love, beauty, comfort, happiness, paradise so when people are depressed, and or impulsive they feel why bother and stay in this hell when I can be there. When we were growing up we used to push through the hard times, today with everything you stated above people give up and seem to feel things will only temporarily be better and it’s better to leave.

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  7. gatito2 says:

    Thank you. We do seem to have much in common. I’m so sorry about your daughter’s boyfriend and the attemps that your daughter had. I’m glad they did not end her life and hope she is getting help now.

    I never thought about the afterlife in regards to people wanting to leave here for something better. I had just never thought of that but I guess you have a point. But there are also people who take their own lives that don’t even believe in an afterlife. I think they just don’t want to exist anymore. It is so heartbreaking.

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  8. Katherine says:

    Rhonda, this is an issue that has occupied my mind since Donald died. His death was an extreme reaction to circumstances that he believed were beyond his ability to cope. At least, that is what i believe after a lengthy police investigation. I have since lost two friends to suicide, although they were very depressed and had previous attempts. I don’t know what makes our society so prone to depression nor what has caused suicide rates to increase.
    Like you, I have suffered from depression for years. My job as an Assistant United States Attorney was an extremely high pressure job. I loved it but it almost killed me. The pressure of my job, combined with the stress of trying to raise my teenage son by myself with no help from his father, was too much. I am 54 and have not been able to work in almost 10 years. I watched my son closely for any signs of depression after I was divorced and especially after I had to take a disability retirement. I saw nothing that concerned me. His friends, professors, and other family saw nothing and, to this day, say that he is the last person who would ever take his life. The confusion and disbelief runs through them as it does me.
    The grief after losing my only child has complicated my depression to the degree that I am considered treatment resistant. I have thoughts of wishing to be gone from this life, but I cannot do it. I cannot put my mother through what I am going through. Sometimes, that is what keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. I continue to go to the psychiatrist and psychologist and pray that I will get through this.

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  9. gatito2 says:

    Thank you for your reply Katherine. I’m so sorry about your son and how your life has gone since. I’m glad that you are getting help though. I’m considering seeing a psychologist or something, but someone different that I had been seeing months ago. Something has to get better than this….

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  10. Katherine says:

    Rhonda, I did have to do grief counseling with someone other than my regular therapist. It will be two years next month. Some days, I feel better; some days, I’m back at the bottom. I believe it has to get better. I think of you often.

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  11. gatito2 says:

    Thank you Katherine. Anything has to be better than what I’m going through now because I feel my life is totally ruined because my daughter’s life was totally ruined. How does a mother get past that? I’m still trying to figure that out. I see I’m not getting better, only worse, so I thought a psychologist may be good to at least try.

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  12. Jane Fatino says:

    Rhonda, I have read your posts and blogs over the past months. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful and brilliant daughter. It is the same for me. My son , Duncan was lost 08.19.13 and for me the grief seems to just intensify day by day. I also feel that my life is totally ruined and, just existing is extremely hard work. I am an artist and have not been able to put brush to canvas since that tragic day. How can I get inspiration to paint again when the world now appears so flat and colorless? I don’t understand anything any more. Nothing makes any sense and there is only chaos out there. Jane

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  13. gatito2 says:

    Oh Jane, I am so sorry about the loss of your son. I so wish I could give you the words to help you feel alive again…..but you don’t I don’t know those words myself. I am struggling so very hard to find some meaning in my life now, even though I have people that love me, and want to help me, I still feel like I’m on this island by myself and I really can’t let anyone on it. This is worse than horrible what we are going through, what our children went through and what they continue to go through in our hearts and minds. I’m a few months into this than you are and I should be able to help you. But you can take comfort to at least know that you are not alone. You can contact me any time. welding81@intrstar.net (note spelling of intrstar)

    I hope one day soon you can paint again, but I understand how you can’t. Did you know my daughter was an artist as well?

    For me, I’m taking a step to see a psychologist on Monday. I had seen people at the beginning but I got no help, nothing that would help ME anyway. So I’m trying with someone new now who I picked out. If you have not done that yet, it might be something to think about. I simply did not know what to do anymore. I don’t want to be a nurse anymore and I simply cannot find a job other than nursing. I’ve tried several times so I can’t even try to lose myself in a job.

    I wish peace for you.

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