This article is about suicide, unemployment, the media and mental health, mainly…but it also is about the media’s coverage -and lack of coverage, of a serious illness. I have also included resources below for those in need of someone to talk to…
First, however, I would like to make an apology and an explanation for a poorly and insensitive post I wrote a few days ago about a young banker whom has killed himself. When I came across an article written in the RT regarding the 14th banker dead due to suicide, (and you can read the post that sparked my previous post here)
I went into a frenzy of rage for many reasons. It took my wonderful father in law, however, to make me rethink what I wrote (you can check out his wonderful blog by clicking HERE).
In my last rant, I didn’t even make the point I wanted to make. I simply read the article and went into a blind rage -and I directed it in the wrong direction, carelessly, and worse, thoughtlessly. I truly and sincerely apologize for that. In this post, I would like to correct what I wrote, but also write what I was trying to say, now that I am level headed and have thought about what I said.
The original post, which I’ve taken down, attacked the young man whom killed himself in NYC. He was a banker, as noted in the link above. But I was very insensitive to him and any one in his shoes; I didn’t mean to come across that way.
I have attempted suicide; I know what it is like to be on the edge, and the words that opened my eyes that the best father in law ever said was, depression, mental illness; it doesn’t discriminate.
So obvious, but I was so blind. I am so ashamed. I suffer from extreme childhood trauma related mental health issues, who am I to rant about someone I don’t know? I am ashamed and ask all readers to forgive me. I wish death and mental illnesses torment upon no one.
So let me restart that article…
I am angry at the writers, when it boils down to it; the writers and the media.
Not just the writer of the above linked post, but to journalists all over the world covering 14 suicides of bankers. Of course their deaths matter; sure most of us aren’t too fond of most bankers, but to kill yourself you have to be suffering mentally. And that torment, brought upon for whatever reason, shouldn’t be attacked or judged.
I don’t like for-profit media anyway, but, to further prove my point, I know how serious mental health and suicide is. And while hell yeah, without a shadow of a doubt 14 suicides is horrible; 1 suicide is horrible!
Rage arises in me, however, at this question: what makes one person more newsworthy than another? Why write a cryptic article on any person taking their life? What about the thousands upon thousands of others, the hundreds upon hundreds that did the same thing that very day? Of course we can’t cover every single person who kills themselves or dies. So why not focus on the issue of mental illness and suicide and pick and choose when to mention suicide and mental health?
Is it honestly such an insane notion to believe writing on ANY one sole person is not only distasteful but also unhelpful? We read about cancer victims from time to time but it’s the reading about what cancer is and does to our loved ones that has educated us- but being able to physically see these ailments also helps cancer’s education. With mental illness it is hard to see a physical sign; but should that not mean it needs to be written about and discussed more? To me the answer is, of course it does.
One suicide is one too many. However, I don’t believe it is right for them to single a person out -any person- when they could be writing something helpful; educating people on suicide and mental illness, coming up with programs to help people live, learn to cope, and especially live in a world where we are not harshly judged for being “invisibly ill.”
Suicide amounts to the millions globally every year. So why one, two, even 100 people; what makes any of them more important than all the others? Again, we can’t write on every death. So why not like cancer do we not write to show the tragedy, but also write educational pieces and create true awareness, not just give it a month and talk about depression.
Again: I am speaking to the writers, and to the readers, to society. If we are going to read about suicide, why is it we only see rich people on the front page when statistically our suicide rate is sky high, not improving in any way -and it is not the rich that is causing this climb.
I don’t believe one person should be the spokesperson for the demised. I believe we need to know of their deaths, of course, but more than that we need education.
A Few Facts
First I’ll speak of Americans. Suicide is rising in America; we currently place 6th for highest suicide rates in the world. Approximately 38,000 people successfully kill themselves each year in America.
And in the United Kingdom over 5,700 people die by suicide, while devastatingly in 2012 the highest suicide rate in the UK is found in men aged 40 to 44- that is almost 26 deaths per every 100,000…
Yet, a horribly disturbing fact is suicide around the world remains the leading cause of death for men under 35.
Before I go on to discuss unemployment and suicide, I want to address the major issue: mental health.
Mental Health & Suicide:
I think most can agree the vast majority of the approximate 38,000 people dying in the US alone annually are causalities of a very common, very real, but all too tragically taboo disease: mental illness(es).
Lives could be saved, from bankers to teenagers, if only we made the effort. Even if were only the two following things, think of how many lives we could save if society
A) killed the stigma that for some reason is associated with mental health and
B) if we had an educated society regarding what mental health and mental illness is, and what it is not. It does not mean “crazy” for example.
We need this not just in the USA but we need this worldwide. The world is far too under educated about a very real illness that takes far too many lives every day, lives that could be saved. And I have to note…
It’s not just depression people need to understand. PTSD, personality disorders,… mental torment is the worst torment possible, without a doubt. It is unseen, and can easily be just as fatal as aids or cancer.
Because mental illness is unseen, people unjustly judged, told they need to toughen up, get over it, let it go, forget the past and move on, etc… Too many of the unaffected don’t understand what it is to have depression, much less other illnesses, such as Depersonalization Disorder; a disorder I suffer from and have since the age of 4.
I say suffer, but it was/is a natural way to cope with very horrible circumstances. There is no shame in suffering from mental illness; more than likely, you are a survivor- and mental illness is a natural response to a horrible world. Some people simply have chemical imbalances. This is nothing to be ashamed of, either, and can be easily corrected, if only our society didn’t discourage talking of mental health.
My here point is: there is a huge gap in mental health education that needs to be filled in our world.
Suicide awareness and mental health awareness can save lives; and I don’t mean wearing a pin once a year and running a few extra ads on TV. I mean teaching it in schools, work places; killing the stigma of mental health and letting it be just as openly spoken about and taken seriously as cancer or aids, for without a doubt, it is just as serious. Perhaps if people did not feel ashamed to express their mental health; perhaps if society were more educated, people from every walk of life would not be dying so prematurely.
Unemployment & Suicide
While it is obvious the bankers that kill themselves are suffering from some form of mental disturbance, the reason I was so angry initially is because of the numbers, and because the writers didn’t bother covering the 38,000 dying in America; they didn’t mention that suicide in America is climbing up- higher, in fact, than it was during the Great Depression. They don’t write reports or articles based on research which reveals things like:
“People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs. In the United States, the suicide rate, which had slowly risen since 2000, jumped during and after the 2007-09 recession. In a new book, we estimate that 4,750 ‘excess’ suicides — that is, deaths above what pre-existing trends would predict — occurred from 2007 to 2010. Rates of such suicides were significantly greater in the states that experienced the greatest job losses. Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009.”
The report goes on to state:
“The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century. People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs.”
Yes, the 14 lives lost is a tragedy and a shame because, for one, maybe if mental illness weren’t so stigmatized even one life could have been saved…and secondly, any life taken is a tragedy, no matter what their job, lack of job, status, etc is. The truest statement I’ve heard in a very long time, again… mental illness doesn’t discriminate. And no… it doesn’t.
However, the reason I am so outraged and angry is because I don’t understand how the media can cover 1, 2, 3 to 14 or 15 suicides and call it a day. Tragic as these deaths are, they are sad causalities in a very large battle between life and death. But not 1 person is more deserving than another to make the headlines for suicide. That is one reason for outrage.
And once again…; there are 38,000 suicides in the United States alone, every year. Those deaths are not all related to unemployment, obviously, nor are they all related to banking. But they are all related to mental issues of one form or another, and if society really and truly wants to fix or at least make progress in helping end suicide, we instead should be confronted with headlines stating facts such as :
In America, around 38,000 people take their life each year.
“Rates of such suicides were significantly greater in the states that experienced the greatest job losses. Deaths from suicide overtook deaths from car crashes in 2009”
“Suicide & the Mental Illness Crisis – It’s Time to Learn About the Fatal -but curable- Diseases”
Whatever they say, it is far past time we bring awareness to the severity, the frequency, the extreme depths and misconceptions as well as so much more regarding mental health, and suicide.
Just a few suicide resources…: Two I’ve used MANY times through out my teens, and once a few years ago. http://www.samaritans.org/ – email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the site for a local and confidential number to call…
“Around 4,400 people end their own lives in England each year – that’s one death every two hours – and at least 10 times that number attempt suicide” – http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/S/suicide/
I’ll add more at a later date as I haven’t slept for a few days and need to sign off now. If you have any helpful sites, please add them in the comments below… Thank you!!!