In 2007 (the latest year for which we have national statistics), there were 34,598 suicides in the U.S. (94.8 suicides per day; 1 suicide every 15.2 minutes). This translates to an annual suicide rate of 11.5 per 100,000.*
I'm pissed. I wrote this whole thing that was concise and wonderful but then my computer froze or some shit and lost half of it. Fucking technology.
I wonder, every day, what it must be like to live without any kind of mental or physical malady. It must be quite glorious to be able to just get up and go whenever the whim strikes to do something. It's not like I don't have days where I'm feeling very light and free, it's just that those days are few and far between. My bed is constantly calling to me, singing sweetly, "Beth, come here! I'm ready to envelope you in warmth and safety!" And it's very difficult for me not to answer by crawling onto it and lying down, no matter what time of day or night.
If we were to rate our daily energy level on a scale of 0-100, 0 being literally pulseless and dead and 100 being high on Speed and Meth, I'd rate my daily level at about 20-25. I think someone without depression averages somewhere between 50-70 daily. I can rarely muster up the energy to run errands or make phone calls or do whatever it is that needs doing. I have a pile of clean laundry on my bedroom floor that has been sitting there for probably two months. The reasons are twofold for this: 1.) I hate NOTHING more than having to put clean laundry away. I don't mind as much the sorting and folding of it, it's the actual act of putting it in drawers or hanging it up on hangers and placing it on the bar in the closet that horrifies me. Hell for me would be an endless pile of clean laundry that needed to be put away. And 2.) I have a really hard time trying to talk myself into using what energy I do have on putting away stupid laundry. I have fleeting thoughts every day about just buckling down and doing it, but I always end up just not doing it.
I think that not having much to look forward to puts a major strain on my mood on a daily basis. If I have a trip planned I feel much more energized each day, and I get things done as though it were no problem at all up until the trip, and then I fall back into my drab lifestyle afterward. When I have a trip planned, it's like all the other stuff I've been ruminating on all fades into the background and I make a subconscious decision to not worry anymore until I get back.
I read the newspaper (except most of the politics because I find all of that to be an ENORMOUS PILE OF BULLSHIT) just about every day. Today's Denver Post published a cover story about cyber-bullying of homosexual individuals. While it's good to make a point to increase awareness of cyber-bullying and prevent our progeny from being intolerant or closed-minded, only a very small part of the article mentions that mental-health plays a part in those who are victims of cyber-bullying. Far be it for me to say that kids and adolescents should have thicker skin and be less willing to read into what others say, because I am most often hurt by what I find out others are saying about me behind my back. However, I wonder if there wasn't such stigma attached to mental illness, or if there were increased awareness of the resources available, could more suicides be prevented? If a child or adolescent had access to medication or psycho-social therapy or a combination of the two, would that help to increase their self-esteem and sense of self-worth to the point that bullying wouldn't hurt them so?
In America, suicide has been recently thrust into a very weak spotlight, with the suicides of Broncos player Kenny McKinley and Rutgers student Tyler Clementi. It seems to have been largely forgotten in the face of the news of the day, and I find that ludicrous. While I don't expect Brian Williams or Katie Couric to drone on and on about suicide prevention and mental health, it would be nice to know that awareness of either or both is on the mind of the media. Every year, hundreds of thousands of women, of people, walk and run to raise money for research and a cure for breast cancer. Is mental illness not as common or not as lethal? Why don't hundreds of thousands of people participate in annual races to raise money and awareness for mental illness and mental health? This seems to be entirely paradoxical to me. Genes for mental illness can be passed on genetically, just as genes for certain cancers are. People don't choose to have mental illness, just as someone wouldn't choose to have breast cancer (and really should be given more weight because many people with lung cancer chose to ignore the risks of smoking). In my opinion, it's just not given the amount of attention (positive or negative) that it needs in order to be researched and treated, and it's not fair. I guess I'm going to work very hard this year on trying to change that.
*"CDC - National Center for Health Statistics Homepage." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/Default.htm>. Accessed thru "Suicide Fact Sheets, Stats and Trends." American Association of Suicidology. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. <http://www.suicidology.org/web/guest/stats-and-tools/fact-sheets>.