Do we care about suicide?

by midlifecrisisqueen on January 17, 2013

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.

Perhaps we have a problem as a nation when there are more people in our military killing themselves, than being killed by the enemy.  Did that statistic escape your attention?  Yes, in 2012 there were 349 successful suicides among those who serve our country, while less than 300 soldiers died fighting in Afghanistan. These are the worst statistics on suicide since the military began compiling them.

Want to hear another statistic which is rarely mentioned?  Suicides among baby boomers are high and going up quickly. 

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:

Find Your Reason to Be Here:   The Search for Meaning in Midlife.

Post script: This post was completely ignored by the HuffPost50, proving once again that no one cares about those who kill themselves, and censorship lives!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tammy January 18, 2013 at 11:50 am

Good post, Laura Lee. Yes, I did read this and was mortified and flabbergasted. How can it be? It is even more evidence (as if we needed it) that our fine military men and women do not receive the care they need while they are in the trenches or when they return home. It is a sad, sad commentary on our country. Shameful. I am also aware that the BB are more prone to suicide than in past decades. I wonder if it’s true of if it’s just that we are now paying attention. Income (or lack of), illness and loneliness are to blame. There is always something we can do. I hope we do it.

midlifecrisisqueen January 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Hi Tammy:
Nice to hear from you! Actually, I had a long conversation with my dad about what’s different for BB that was not true when he began thinking about retirement. That was part of my reason for doing the research for this new book, to answer this question for myself. There are so many things that are different for us, than the previous generation! I learned so much from writing this book… Don’t miss it! – LLC

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