This week, USA Today continued it’s remarkable series on the mental health crisis with an October 9, 2014 article, 40,000 Suicides Annually, Yet America Still Shrugs. I highly advise that you read it! The article points out that although suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America and the second leading cause of death in young people ages 15-34, funding for suicide research and prevention is pitifully low compared to the money spent on prostrate cancer and HIV, which kill far less people.
But nowhere is the discrepancy greater than when comparing the money spent on suicide prevention and breast cancer. Each condition kills about 40,000 people a year. Here in Portland, Oregon the Susan B. Komen walk for the cure attracts 40,000 walkers each September, yet the Out of Darkness suicide prevention walk held the first Saturday in October attracts 500 people. That is an 80:1 ratio!
What is the cause of this discrepancy? It think it can be stated in one word–stigma. While much publicity has been given to women struggling with breast cancer, and rightfully so, suicide remains a taboo subject. I remember a member of my healing from depression support group who suffered from a serious depression and worked as a nurse. One day, she came to group in a much better mood. When I asked her why she was feeling better, she smiled and told the group that she had just been diagnosed with cancer. Seeing the disbelieving looks of the group members, she explained that when she told her co-workers that she had cancer, people gave her lots of love and support. Yet for years she had not talked about her depression for fear that people wouldn’t understand, or that her job would be in jeopardy.
Every thirteen minutes a person in America commits suicide and every 40 seconds someone in the world commits suicide. Until suicide prevention becomes a higher priority in this culture, we need to learn the skills of finding alternatives to suicide. To learn some of these skills, please feel free to read my article, “How to Find Alternatives to Suicide.”
Or, you can watch my You Tube video by clicking on this link: http://youtu.be/qfknfbnSM4w