Since Robin Williams died by strangulation, suicide is being talked about once again in a major way. Sadly, the statistics tell a tale that is horrible in our society. There are approximately 38,000 suicides a year in the US. That is TWICE the number of homicides! Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death for nearly every age group, and it is higher up on the list for those over 40-45 years old. Many people don’t know these numbers because unless someone like Robin dies, the statistics are ignored primarily because this is a taboo subject.
What is even more illuminating is that homicides are down significantly over the last 50 years. Traffic fatalities, are at a historic low, down by two thirds since the 70’s. Meanwhile, the overall suicide rate has barely changed. What is disheartening is that the rate for those who are 15-24 years old has tripled!
Moreover, while we might think or believe that suicide is worse for those whose lives are hardest, the research of David Lester, a psychology professor at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey and one of the most famous national experts, “suicide is more common among people with a higher quality of life.’” Think about Robin Williams- he had fame, family and fortune, did he not?
One key theory as to why this is so is that those who take their own lives feel like there is “no one left to blame.” This is the opposite from those who feel they can blame their unhappiness on something or someone. Like the government or the economy. Such blame helps immunize them against suicide.
Tragically, I was very close to someone who back in 1986 committed suicide by drowning himself. And he had everything, but then, did he? I learned a few things at that time. If someone seems depressed and is sad and talks suicide, you must take them very seriously. You should get them help. There are suicide hotlines and professionals that can be most helpful. If that person hints or speaks of taking their own life, listen to that person. See and feel what is going on. Do not turn a blind eye or hope or think someone else is helping them. Take responsibility and help your fellow human being. You may save a life.