It is a sad reflection on modern life that increasing numbers of people are now deliberately taking their own lives (at least one every minute) – in the worst cases they are taking someone with them, even children. Well over a million deaths a year worldwide, and in the top dozen causes of death (the top three in the under forty five year olds!) – men are more at risk than women (sometimes four times more) , and Eastern Europe and East Asia have the very highest ratesS. SAD but true – not a solution then). Suicides are greater than murders (or those killed in wars!). Suicide statistics are generally worse than official figures – due to factors like uncertainty.
We know that suicide rates from the mid 1800 rapidly increase by some seventy percent by the 1900s (and were at that level at the time of the great depression in the mid 1930s); it fell for a while but was back up in the mid 1990s. War is effective in reducing suicides rates!).
UK suicide rate is nearly twelve per 100thousand people (that means over six thousand people – 75% men); compared to Greenland 80, S. Korea 30, China 22, Japan 22, Russia 20, France 15, USA 12, Germany 10, Spain 8, and some other counties claim zero!
Suicides can be caused by poverty, divorce, unemployment, homelessness, living alone, and other factors including access to lethal agents like Carbon Monoxide (in say natural gas).
It is a major public health issue these days, affecting not just victims, but also devastating families, and distressing communities! It is an urgent ‘critical ‘priority to deal with. Does anyone care about this? Is anyone doing anything about it then? NO.
In the UK, until 1961, suicide used to be deemed immoral & criminally illegal – punished by consequences regarding forfeited of property (to the Crown) until1822, or sanctions against members of the family. That meant that those killing themselves (or trying to – generally now twenty times those succeeding!) were committing an offence. Our rulers changed all that (as well as other Western countries did) – was it thought by our legislators that such a change would decrease suicides? Surely not – anybody would guess that it would either have no effect, or more likely would release the anti-suicide pressure from society on such troubled individuals, so we would get even more suicides?
The chances are that you will know somebody, or even a number of persons, who have committed suicide, or you certainly know of somebody? It is a wake-up call if that happens.
Many suicides are brought about by mental illness – say clinical depression. Sometimes they result from substance abuse (drugs and alcohol perhaps) as well.
There is a lot of pressure from various sources these days to also allow ‘assisted suicide’, which is a very dangerous path to tread. Such anti mercy killing (or even encouragement) has been evolved from religions, as only your God should decide your fate. The risks of other human parties being involved in someone’s death is a scarily scenario – and opens the floodgates of abuse, particularly affecting the rich, infirm, incompetent, and elderly sick.
There are certain people who have given up on life, because of incapacity or having a terminal illness, or suffering physical disease, or similar (things like say multiple sclerosis). It is difficult not to have some sympathy for the worst cases of those, whose life has been so badly blighted, and their circumstances can be so tragic (with no real quality of life – we put animals down to avoid their suffering don’t we). But then you see soldiers who for example have lost both legs fighting for their country, who are walking around on artificial legs, or are dreadfully disfigured through burns, and they have immense courage and willpower, so are determined to live their lives to the end (and that is not a criticism of the broken individuals who want to go).
What help is there in Britain to those with suicidal feelings? There is the National Health Service – GPs, Consultants, and other mental health workers in the NHS who do fantastic work in helping people. However, often suffers are so bad that they don’t go to them.
The favourite port of call is then the Samaritans – they are a unique and impressive charity organisation, staffed by volunteers (twenty thousand of them from all walks of life), providing a 24 hr telephone helpline facility, offering a good listener service to those in despair (they deal with some half a million calls a year). Do you know someone who is a Samaritan? We think not – because they don’t talk about it ever, as their work is confidential & too sensitive!
[If you could donate: call 08709 00 00 32
or even want to be a Samaritan volunteer; would you like to give something back to the community you live in, over 18, are sensible, are willing to reliably commit a few hours of your time (perhaps 3 hrs), could talk to people on the phone who are desperate with nobody they feel able to confide in? There are other roles as well! Then contact them (through the web or Email: email@example.com; or phone 08705 62 72 82); and go through their selection & training process – you could save somebody’s life!].
A tribute to Gary, died 28 September 2013, aged 40 years