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Why are suicide rates up 30% in the United States?

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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08 June 2018 20:59
 

Skeptic, thanks for the tip about the link, although I can never seem to get the blocked links to work.


Regarding Anthony Bourdain (and Kate Spade earlier in the week,) it is hard to think that people who valued life, and all the work that it entails, enough to throw so much energy into creative projects - and who had both weathered storms of the past successfully - decided to throw in the towel one day, at such a seemingly unexpected time. It’s hard not to speculate… were they overwhelmed by a particular mood that they couldn’t see past? Did they opt not to seek treatment and ‘try again’ because they’d been down that road many times before and just weren’t willing to do it any more? Why that moment, and not all the ones that came before it? Is it a matter of not having mental health treatments that are effective enough, or of an impulse in a moment of crisis? Whatever happened, it’s so sad to think about people dying in that state of mind.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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08 June 2018 23:58
 

I’ve had to deal with the suicides of people close to me a few times. I can’t say that I’ve noticed a pattern or recognized a root cause or gained any special insight into the issue from these experiences. Each is an enigma to me and each is unique from the others. There are, of course scholarly works on the subject and a fair deal of careful, clinical analysis and I respect all that and hope that it bears fruit.

The only general comment I can make is that I think the question is ill posed. I don’t really question why a person would end their own life. I have had enough issues with addiction and loss and guilt and chronic pain that I can empathize, at least in the abstract with a person who chooses to end it all. I think the better, more informative and more useful question is why NOT. Where and how do people in extremity find the resources to soldier on despite the odds? Where does the courage to live and to be come from? That’s the question that really interests me.

 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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09 June 2018 01:24
 
hannahtoo - 08 June 2018 01:55 PM

Substance abuse was part of the problem with AB, and for many other suicides.  AB admitted he had been addicted to heroin and cocaine.  He also drank and smoked.  With mental illness and drug abuse, it’s hard to determine the chicken and the egg.  Continual use of numbing or stimulating substances hinders a person from learning to manage moods in healthful ways, making straight life very difficult to tolerate.  But of course, depression often is self-medicated with drugs, alcohol, nicotine.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Bourdain’s personal troubles seemed to give him a special empathy and insight for others.

Totally agree Hanna, is substance abuse a cause or symptom? I’m not sure, maybe it’s both in a self perpetuating way. Plus the instant although temporary results are very tempting but not sustainable for any real length of time in treating those debilitating feelings.

Anecdotally I have noticed from my own experience that suicide seems to have an infectious quality among families, I know personally of two families where one suicide has been followed later by another with a spouse sibling or child taking their own life, a variety of possible reasons here!?
Nevertheless, very disturbing and sad.

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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09 June 2018 05:13
 

Bourdain was certainly a genius and he seems to have had an uncommon temperament, as well. Unusually gifted people, I’m guessing, perhaps have unique and truly difficult problems to endure. Imagine being the smartest person in the room wherever you go. Who do you seek advice from? Bourdain doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would have lorded it over his friends and colleagues, or even focused on his own intellect other than abstractly. Yet there it was. Maybe it’s a most uncomfortable feeling to have no one around who sees and feels things with anything resembling the way he felt and thought.

Martin, is it likely that Bourdain’s early opioid addiction permanently deleted something essential from his future “feel-good” chemical production ability, as Hannah suggests? I’ve spoken to a few former severe addicts, and at least for those particular people, life seems to be more of a struggle than for the rest of us. Does that ring true for yourself and people you know? Is only partial recovery possible?

 
 
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09 June 2018 05:50
 
NL. - 08 June 2018 08:59 PM

Skeptic, thanks for the tip about the link, although I can never seem to get the blocked links to work.


Regarding Anthony Bourdain (and Kate Spade earlier in the week,) it is hard to think that people who valued life, and all the work that it entails, enough to throw so much energy into creative projects - and who had both weathered storms of the past successfully - decided to throw in the towel one day, at such a seemingly unexpected time. It’s hard not to speculate… were they overwhelmed by a particular mood that they couldn’t see past? Did they opt not to seek treatment and ‘try again’ because they’d been down that road many times before and just weren’t willing to do it any more? Why that moment, and not all the ones that came before it? Is it a matter of not having mental health treatments that are effective enough, or of an impulse in a moment of crisis? Whatever happened, it’s so sad to think about people dying in that state of mind.

I know one person well who has seriously contemplated suicide and been hospitalized several times.  He’s had suicidal ideation since he was a child.  When asked why he didn’t follow through on suicide, he says he always felt there was some small glimmer of hope that things would get better.  It’s very sad because he is so dysfunctional, and his thinking so muddled.  He’s in late middle age, and his life is not getting better.  Yet something keeps him going.

[ Edited: 09 June 2018 18:03 by hannahtoo]
 
Jb8989
 
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09 June 2018 06:05
 

I think most opiods of choice for addiction purposes are the ones that don’t actually do anything to reduce the actual local causes of pain. What they do is they change how the brain responds to it. I have no evidence to back this up, but that new relationship has gotta be messing things up in some way yet unknown. Maybe it contributes to all these notions of despondence.

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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09 June 2018 12:26
 
nonverbal - 09 June 2018 05:13 AM

Bourdain was certainly a genius and he seems to have had an uncommon temperament, as well. Unusually gifted people, I’m guessing, perhaps have unique and truly difficult problems to endure. Imagine being the smartest person in the room wherever you go. Who do you seek advice from? Bourdain doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would have lorded it over his friends and colleagues, or even focused on his own intellect other than abstractly. Yet there it was. Maybe it’s a most uncomfortable feeling to have no one around who sees and feels things with anything resembling the way he felt and thought.

Martin, is it likely that Bourdain’s early opioid addiction permanently deleted something essential from his future “feel-good” chemical production ability, as Hannah suggests? I’ve spoken to a few former severe addicts, and at least for those particular people, life seems to be more of a struggle than for the rest of us. Does that ring true for yourself and people you know? Is only partial recovery possible?

Not sure NV, my own opioid addiction was an attempt at self medication due to the complex trauma I had suffered as a child, it was the trauma that left me ill prepared for life, so these days I have systems in place that support and promote my own wellbeing as long as I stick to them, to some degree this is quite a fragile arrangement. It was the trauma that deleted essential stuff for me.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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10 June 2018 19:42
 

I just finished watching Anthony Bourdain’s new segment on Berlin.  It was all about the dark, decadent side of the city.  Interesting.  I guess we’ll never know if such subjects played a part in taking him down to a bad place.  He ended the show quoting Samuel Beckett, in reference to Berlin’s history:

“You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

The quote has more poignancy in light of his death.

 
sojourner
 
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10 June 2018 20:07
 
Brick Bungalow - 08 June 2018 11:58 PM

I’ve had to deal with the suicides of people close to me a few times. I can’t say that I’ve noticed a pattern or recognized a root cause or gained any special insight into the issue from these experiences. Each is an enigma to me and each is unique from the others. There are, of course scholarly works on the subject and a fair deal of careful, clinical analysis and I respect all that and hope that it bears fruit.

The only general comment I can make is that I think the question is ill posed. I don’t really question why a person would end their own life. I have had enough issues with addiction and loss and guilt and chronic pain that I can empathize, at least in the abstract with a person who chooses to end it all. I think the better, more informative and more useful question is why NOT. Where and how do people in extremity find the resources to soldier on despite the odds? Where does the courage to live and to be come from? That’s the question that really interests me.


I may be really over-extrapolating here, taking examples from the fairly mundane and applying them to extreme cases like suicide, but it seems to me that in regard to the question you’re asking - why does anyone go to the trouble of living, if one does not believe in an afterlife and thinks that death would be like lying down for a nap and not waking up (full disclosure, this does not actually apply to me as I am at least fairly worried about the idea of reincarnation, if not an official ‘believer’), the answer may be that attachment and even obsessiveness (if you want to frame it in negative terms - I suppose “compassion and conscientiousness” represent the ‘light’ side of those traits,) keep traits such as aversion and apathy in check. Again, going to a more mundane level, not involving life and death matters - in some instances I want to roll over and hit ‘snooze’ on my alarm clock 18 times rather than get up and work and focus for 8-11 hours or so. Work - no matter what kind of work you do in life - is so much, well, work. On the other hand, I am also the person who just cannot let go of things sometimes. Cannot stop rechecking a schedule to make sure it’s the way I think it should be, scanning the counters for dishes, coordinating the next family event, or whatever the case may be. In that sense, I feel if I died tomorrow my ghost would probably still roam the halls ruminating about its upcoming schedule, making lists, and feeling like it had to accomplish more in some ethereal sense.


Again, that is probably framing the dichotomy of resting fully and working vigorously in totally negative terms - aversion on the one side; an inability to let go on the other. I suspect we are all a mix, and in its healthier form, this spectrum is more about and understanding of the need to truly ‘let go’ and relinquish mental control for a state of true rest and ‘being’ on the one side; and the equanimity to put in ‘joyful effort’ without attachment on the other.

 

 

 
 
sojourner
 
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10 June 2018 20:20
 
hannahtoo - 09 June 2018 05:50 AM
NL. - 08 June 2018 08:59 PM

Skeptic, thanks for the tip about the link, although I can never seem to get the blocked links to work.


Regarding Anthony Bourdain (and Kate Spade earlier in the week,) it is hard to think that people who valued life, and all the work that it entails, enough to throw so much energy into creative projects - and who had both weathered storms of the past successfully - decided to throw in the towel one day, at such a seemingly unexpected time. It’s hard not to speculate… were they overwhelmed by a particular mood that they couldn’t see past? Did they opt not to seek treatment and ‘try again’ because they’d been down that road many times before and just weren’t willing to do it any more? Why that moment, and not all the ones that came before it? Is it a matter of not having mental health treatments that are effective enough, or of an impulse in a moment of crisis? Whatever happened, it’s so sad to think about people dying in that state of mind.

I know one person well who has seriously contemplated suicide and been hospitalized several times.  He’s had suicidal ideation since he was a child.  When asked why he didn’t follow through on suicide, he says he always felt there was some small glimmer of hope that things would get better.  It’s very sad because he is so dysfunctional, and his thinking so muddled.  He’s in late middle age, and his life is not getting better.  Yet something keeps him going.


I have only known a handful of people who either attempted or committed suicide, and each case has certainly varied a great deal. In a couple of cases there was clear, severe mental illness involved; in one it was someone who was more or less requesting euthanasia at the end of life; in one there was an addiction and life crisis involved; and in a couple (hauntingly, the only couple that were successful,) it was something of a mystery without a really clear cause. That’s why this is a topic that I really don’t have strong intuitions on one way or the other, because it feels very hard to spot a clear pattern.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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11 June 2018 07:17
 

If a person feels that there is no hope of a situation getting better, I can see that leading to suicide. It may be, in fact, that there is no hope (excluding from this conversation any issue about religious faith), such as in the case of terminal or irreversible illness.  In that case, suicide can be seen to be a rational decision, IMHO.

 
bbearren
 
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bbearren
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11 June 2018 07:48
 

Why are suicide rates up 30% in the United States?

Because more people are committing suicide.  If this is truly a deterministic universe without any possibility of free will, this is neither a realistic question nor can there be a realistic answer, unless you happen to be Laplace’s demon.  A suicide that can be prevented was not going to be a suicide in the first place.

I knew two suicides, the two also were very close friends.  The first suicide used a shotgun.  A couple of years later, the second used an overdose of heroin.  None of their friends considered either of them to be in any way suicidal.  Neither had ever expressed suicidal thoughts, at least not to any of their other friends.  Who can know what they might have discussed amongst themselves?  Neither of them left a note.

 
 
nonverbal
 
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11 June 2018 08:25
 
bbearren - 11 June 2018 07:48 AM

Why are suicide rates up 30% in the United States?

Because more people are committing suicide.  If this is truly a deterministic universe without any possibility of free will, this is neither a realistic question nor can there be a realistic answer, unless you happen to be Laplace’s demon.  A suicide that can be prevented was not going to be a suicide in the first place.

I knew two suicides, the two also were very close friends.  The first suicide used a shotgun.  A couple of years later, the second used an overdose of heroin.  None of their friends considered either of them to be in any way suicidal.  Neither had ever expressed suicidal thoughts, at least not to any of their other friends.  Who can know what they might have discussed amongst themselves?  Neither of them left a note.

Regarding the second person, if he or she left no note, how did you know it was suicide and not an accidental overdose?

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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11 June 2018 08:56
 

(I agree with EN (post #26) in regards to suicide as the result of terminal or irreversible illness.  I view this as an issue of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide and as quite different from most other suicides.)

Regardless of one’s philosophical views on free will, it would be unacceptable to simply give up and assume that a suicide is somehow preordained by determinism and that nothing can be done to help others.  We must live our lives as if they have meaning, that what we do matters, and that it is possible to help others.

There are many factors and reasons that lead to suicide.  In some cases, it is the result of long-term mental illnesses, and with others due to ‘situational’ depression (e.g. grief, divorce).  Sometimes there are several attempts made.  Sometimes it is an impulsive act, often made easier by the presence of a gun.  Sometimes a depressed person will withdraw from friends and family who will then become less aware of how serious the situation has become.  Not all depressed persons will appear sad and cry easily; some may become withdrawn, angry, or become difficult to be around.  If (often a ‘big if’) we see changes in our friend’s or loved one’s behaviour, we can at least try to reach out and help where we can.

People generally like to spend their time with those who are upbeat and happy, fun to be with.  When the depressed person becomes withdrawn, somber and perhaps irritable, people may also withdraw from that person, just when they need the help of others the most.

[ Edited: 11 June 2018 09:19 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
hannahtoo
 
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11 June 2018 09:24
 
EN - 11 June 2018 07:17 AM

If a person feels that there is no hope of a situation getting better, I can see that leading to suicide. It may be, in fact, that there is no hope (excluding from this conversation any issue about religious faith), such as in the case of terminal or irreversible illness.  In that case, suicide can be seen to be a rational decision, IMHO.

If a person is depressed due to a long-term, miserable life situation (apart from illness) that is unlikely to get better, would suicide still be a rational choice?

 
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