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SUICIDE RE-EXAMINED

This will be part of a series of editorials that will follow. They will be a bit different than the entries that I put together. Bear in mind that the topic is not for the faint of heart.

Just recently, news broke out about the death of actor David Carradine. At this time of writing, the cause of death is still not yet determined. Despite this, there was still speculation of suicide. The people that worked with David Carradine vehemently deny this. Again, we still do not know.

I actually was not even planning to write this entry, not to mention the previous –but unrelated- ones before this one. I actually dreaded bringing up the subject because it is too frightening. The subject is suicide and what motivates people to follow such a path. Long before I did this site, I actually researched the subject mainly out of curiosity. As scary as it sounds, my curiosity actually dates back to before I was a teen.

I can’t believe that I still remember: As a boy, I came across back issues of Time and Newsweek that dated back to the mid-70s. In one issue of Newsweek, there was an article about suicide. The article began with a story about a despondent male college student. The student asked a classmate for advice on what is the best way to kill yourself. The classmate jokingly suggested jumping off the roof of a tall building. The despondent student ended up killing himself by placing his head on a railroad track before an oncoming train. The whole story was that disturbing that I still remember it.

Suicide did not become a serious issue until the 1970s. This garnered attention of the Centers for Disease Control or CDC for short. The growing trend in suicides was confined to adults, from ages 18 and up. The Center for Disease Control, or CDC for short, in Atlanta Georgia had declared it a serious epidemic.

By the 1980s, a new trend in suicide was beginning to emerge –teenage suicide. This would often range from the age level of 17 or below. Efforts had been made to try to reduce the number of suicides in the United States. This often ranged from counseling to providing outreach programs, such as confidential hot-lines through telephones. The general public would likely ask what would motivate such a person to actually want to commit suicide. The answers to that question are rather complex. There are many factors that would influence or motivate the thought of suicide. The most common factor would be that the person is despondent or has a serious form of depression. That person would feel as if life and the whole world had turned against him or her. This is just a small sampling of the causes for suicide.

Looking at the subject of suicide, just how much of an epidemic could it possibly be? According to the CDC, a suicide takes place every 17 minutes. Rounded out, that would mean as many as three suicides within 60 minutes, which makes up one full hour. If you were to multiply those three suicides, within one hour, by Twenty-four hours which makes up a full day, that means that there would be as many as 72 suicides within a day, nationwide. If you multiplied that number of suicides, within that day, by 365 days, which makes up a full year, that would equal about 25,980. If you were to multiply those numbers at least ten times over, which equals the number of years America was involved in the Vietnam War, there would be more suicides in America than the number of Americans killed and missing in that conflict.

In just one year, there were more suicide-related deaths than the number of Americans killed in the Gulf War alone. It gets even more frightening, some experts in the field of psychology would point out that aside from the number of people who commit suicide on an annual basis, there is an estimated five times that number or more who actually contemplate the thought of suicide or even attempt it. What that basically means is that there may be as many as five to eight persons contemplating suicide for every suicide that ends with death. Suicide still remains a controversial subject, both socially and morally. The Catholic Church had looked upon suicide as a moral sin. They "reasoned" that if anyone commits suicide, that person will go to Hell as opposed to going to Heaven. This had been a sore point for non-profit suicide prevention outreach groups. They argue that suicide is a psychological disease and not some kind of moral sin of any kind. It wasn't until around 2003 that certain elements of the Catholic Church had finally acknowledged –reluctantly- that suicide is a disease and not some form of moral sin like pornography.

Suicide still remains a problem so much so that it has recently involved the railway system of America. One of the most extreme forms of suicide is when a despondent person will place his or her head over a railroad track in front of an oncoming train. This has happened many times before and such a form of suicide would halt railway traffic for hours pending completion of a police and forensic investigation, determining whether a death was a suicide or foul play. Many railway routs now have signs discouraging people from trying to commit suicide in this fashion and often display a 1-800 number for a suicide prevention outreach group that offers free counseling. This is in an attempt to prevent such future suicides.


Mary Kay Bergman Memorial site:
http://www.mkbmemorial.com/

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