The news this week was full of Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace and Coca-colas’ anti-obesity campaign. (‘Livestrong’ suddenly turned into ‘LiveWrong’) These are the stories the mainstream media chose to highlight. I found a much more important story for us to focus on, one which barely received a mention.
Do you know why? I do. I spent the past few years searching for the truth behind these statistics, partially because my own family has been touched by this human tragedy. This caused me to ask these questions: What is it that we share as boomers, causing such an uptick in depression and suicide? Is there something about being in the middle of life that can cause us to simply give up? Are there things we can do to ameliorate this horrible trend?
One of the worst feelings you can have when you begin the downward spiral towards suicidal thoughts, is that nobody really cares about you. In fact, most who consider suicide fully believe the world would be a better place without them.
I write stories about midlife psychology and boomers. In this role I have been told by a number of media outlets that they only want to report “happy” stories. If we as a people agree with this perception, and ignore this disturbing increase in suicides nationally, we join in the conspiracy of silence. We say to ourselves, perhaps the world is better off without those who choose to take their own lives. We ignore the tragedy experienced by their families, and accept this devastating waste of human potential.
I suggest we instead confront this tragedy head on, acknowledge what is happening within our families, and then make an effort to reach out to those families dealing with depression and suicide. Take mental illness and the shame attached out of the closet where we have hidden it for most of our nation’s history, and find meaningful ways to work on this problem.
For a compilation of what I learned in my search for answers about boomers, midlife and mental health, you might enjoy my forthcoming book: