KingMidget's Ramblings

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This Post is About Suicide

So, please don’t read if it will bother you.

Here’s a chart that shows the number of suicides in the U.S. by age from 1999-2011.  I’m fascinated by these numbers, but then I’m not.  I’m surprised because what we generally hear about are teenagers and young adults committing suicide.  That’s where all of the emotion and drama is on this.  But the statistics show that the highest numbers are in the 40-54 age range.  Yes, the numbers in the younger ages are horrendous (almost one child between the ages of 10-14 committed suicide every day during that period!), but the numbers increase significantly in those older groups and considering that there are all sorts of other things that kills us along the way, there are fewer 40-54 year olds then there are 15-30 year olds.

Here’s why I’m not surprised.  You grow up.  When you’re a child, you look at adults and think they have it made.  Adults have money.  They can stay up late and drink beer.  They can do whatever they want.  There’s no mom or dad yelling at them and making them do their homework.  Adulthood is the dream state for most children.  It means freedom.

Then you get out of high school and you’re focused on college and a career.  Marriage and a family.  There are a lot of things that keep pulling you through the years.  That childhood dream of adulthood kind of seems to be holding steady.  Yes, there are problems, but there are many years ahead and plenty of reason to have hope.

And something happens.  Maybe there are financial woes that can’t be resolved.  The kids become teenagers and they scream right back at you.  The marriage may not be champagne and caviar.  Hell, maybe there isn’t even a marriage anymore and you’re living alone in a one room apartment and child support is eating up your check and what’s really killing you is you can’t see your kids as much as you want, even if they hate you.

And you look around and there just aren’t as many years left as there once were and you wonder whether this is really all there is.  And, if the circumstances are all wrong and you can’t see your way out … well.  I think that explains the statistics that contradict what we get from the media.  There’s a whole heck of a lot that can go wrong in those almost middle-aged years.

One of the things I have a real problem with is when people get judgmental about people who commit suicide.  Calling Robin Williams a coward or accusing those who do this as being selfish, for example.  I know I’ll never commit suicide, but I get why people might.  I totally get it but I could never possibly claim to be able to put myself in their shoes and come to a different result than theirs.  I could never judge somebody who reaches that point.  It would be nice, instead of judging, if we could take a different approach.  I’m not exactly sure what that approach is and nothing will eliminate suicide from the human race, but maybe more understanding might help.  More love and support, rather than questioning and judgment.  Maybe we should recognize that there are moments in time when some people just … can’t … do … it … anymore and just because you can, doesn’t make them weaker and less of a human being than you.

Those are my two cents.  Look around you, see who needs help and lend a hand.  Offer a shoulder.  Share a few words.  You never know what you might be able to do to stop somebody from committing suicide, but I think being more observant and connected to those around you and offering what you can could go a long way.


9 responses to “This Post is About Suicide

  1. Trent Lewin August 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Offer a shoulder, share a few words… the best advice possible.

    I stopped a person from jumping off a bridge once. It wasn’t enough of a bridge that they would have died, but they would have been hurt and possibly been hit by a car on the road underneath. I will never forget the smell of alcohol on her breath, or the wildness of her as she thrashed to throw herself down. There was something in her eyes I couldn’t understand.

    I still don’t understand. I want to help, though.

    • kingmidget August 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Yes. And this is the thing I want to do more of. I want open myself up to others who are experiencing weakness and loss and do what I can. But, in the rush of daily life, I always find myself turning away. I work in downtown Sacramento, where there are a lot of homeless and mentally ill people wandering the streets. I wish I could figure out I could just reach out and offer a shoulder or share a few words every now and then. I know I’m not going to save them, but maybe a small gesture here and there might make a difference. You know. Kudos to you for having done it in that situation.

      • Trent Lewin August 14, 2014 at 4:40 am

        I wish I knew how to help everyone who needs it. I feel at times like skinning my fingers to the bone with frustration on this topic. There is so much to be done. So little that I in fact do. My only consolation is that my job, and what I do with my icky work hours, involves trying to make things better. It never feels like it’s enough.

      • kingmidget August 14, 2014 at 6:42 am

        Glad you have a job like that. It’s one of my regrets about my current job … it’s not really about helping people. Wish it was.

  2. melissa nacinovich August 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    People don’t always want to be helped. Sometime the demon isn’t other people, it’s inside, and there’s nothing anybody can do to help that. All the kindness in the world isn’t going to stop them from climbing right back onto that bridge to jump next chance they get. It’s not our place to understand, it’s not our place to judge or make assumptions. If we’re not able to be supportive while these people are alive, maybe because we didn’t know them or we didn’t know they were hurting, then the very least humanity can do is show support after they’ve gone.
    for the media…we all know that if your not rich, famous, or an epic tragedy because of age or some other circumstance, then you don’t matter. Nobody cares.
    and that’s just another reason why people suck.

  3. sknicholls August 14, 2014 at 6:12 am

    It is hard in middle age to know who needs help. People become practiced at making it look like everything is okay. I had a close friend from 2002 to 2012. For ten years she was happy and bubbly, always the one pulling everyone else along. Blond, bright eyed life of the party. Always laughing and smiling. A real positive minded person who was kind and helpful to those around her. A nurse with a masters degree who worked a low stress job with an insurance company. Then, one day, there was a note to her husband and she offed herself with oxys and vicodin she had hoarded for who knows how long.She had bee in the Navy at one time, and she never had children. The note focused on menopause and not having children and being am incomplete person. How sad. She was fifty-four two years ago. Yet, when she talked with me about my grown kid dilemmas she always seemed happy she didn’t have any. Confusing as hell.

    • kingmidget August 14, 2014 at 6:43 am

      That’s why I say that you’ll never know if you’ve helped somebody. We don’t know who the “sad” people are in our midst. So, just be kind and understanding, loving and sharing as a general rule.

  4. Mari Biella August 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Great post. I’m always distressed by the tendency to get judgmental about suicide and accuse people of being “weak” or “cowards”. Sometimes people just get to the stage, as you say, where they just can’t take any more. I think it could happen to just about anyone.

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