Two stories emerged simultaneously in the news, seemingly contradictory.
One story is on new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing a big increase in the suicide rate in the United States, in data covering the years 1999 through 2010. Suicide now claims more lives than automobile-related accidents in America; 38,364 suicides in 2010 versus 33,687 from car crashes and the like. Among Americans between the ages of 35 and 64, the suicide rate increased by almost 30%. And the experts say that these numbers are actually lower than the real ones; suicide is considered to be “vastly underreported.” The article to which I linked cites factors including the economic downturn and wider availability in recent years of opioid drugs which can be used to commit suicide, as well as social pressures special to this era.
Then there’s the other story: Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have concluded that most people who are treated for depression in the United States have not actually met the criteria for the condition (which include a “debilitating loss of interest in daily life and a depressed mood lasting at least two weeks”). Nevertheless, most people who are treated for depression—whether they’ve met the criteria or not—are treated with antidepressant medications. Even if you’ve never encountered these medications personally and read the enclosed side-effects, the odds are that you’ve seen the commercials and heard the warnings about how they might cause “suicidal-thoughts,” amongst other lesser horrors, while the images of smiling, happy people gamboling in the sun continue to run on the screen. Continue reading Suicidal Trends in the U.S.