Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Suicide is...

Suicide is strictly a human behavior.  There is nothing else on Earth that willing kills itself for any reason except humans. All animals die by accident, old age, in an attempt to survive or at the actions of another; in the animal realm death is never a conscious choice.  A plant only dies when it lacks the proper conditions to stay alive. Neither animal nor plant will ever kill themselves because it is just too much trouble to go on.  Plants and animals do not purposefully die for for a philosophy or a cause. Given any chance to survive and grow life (with the exception of human) will find a way to express itself. 
Animals and plants have no consciousness of being alive therefore they have no concept of death. One might think by having no consciousness of death, self-sacrifice in the non-human world would be inconsequential and therefore common. But even without the awareness of itself, life chooses to live. But Man, the highest concept of consciousness, aware of its own existence, chooses to willingly end that consciousness for something unknown and un-learnable. I keep looking for a reason. 
I wonder about the suicide bombers who so willingly die for a cause. They die to kill others in an act of mass murder. I can see the problems this causes the Spiritual halls of Celestial justice.  Is the suicide bomber "laying down his life for his friends" and therefore "hath" no greater love, or is it violation of the sixth commandment forbidding murder?  Heavenly lawyers could debate and appeal that idea for eons. 
Zealots and revolutionaries aside most suicide is a human attempt to exit an unbearable physical situation. Pain, mental or physical, is usually at the root of suicide.  In some cases I suppose it can be done  for retribution or punishment to those left behind.  A "They'll be sorry when I'm no longer around" reasoning. 
Humans, in their cognitive reasoning, will sometimes bet their life on the unknown rather than suffer the known for one more minute. In our human wisdom, logic and awareness we figure that anything is better than what we are experiencing now, so we bet our very lives on it.  
Here are some sobering statistics:
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes. (CDC)
  • Suicide takes the lives of over 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. 
In the US every 13 minutes 26 people attempt suicide while only one is successful. If you don't want to do the math, that means that each year approximately 950,000 people attempt to kill themselves. People who never tell anyone they failed at an attempted suicide obviously can't be measured.  Perhaps that number is a million or so. 
Depression accounts for the majority of suicides.  The statistics of untreated depression is also staggering:
  • Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
  • Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
  • 80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication.
How do you process this information? I know I am a person who fights depression. I hope I am in the 80% to 90% for whom current treatment is successful. But even with help, the darkness is always just one light switch away. As my friend Cy indicated in her last letter to us, it is a matter of treading water constantly.  That effort became too much for her last Saturday.  
If you are unhappy most of the time. If you are joyful one minute but dreadful the next. If that swing is not under your control. If your inner dialogue won't let your consciousness be calm... seek professional for help.  There is nothing wrong with asking for and getting help. Most of the time it is a momentary condition that you will get over like the common cold.  In some cases it may be chronic and you will need medication.  A mental professional will be able to know the difference.  Don't try and diagnosis yourself the symptoms are not as clear as a cough, rash or elevated temperature.

There is such a stigma toward drugs that help us cope with depression.  Those of us who need them must really be crazy and totally messed up if we need medication just to seem normal.  Why is  insulin for diabetes not seen in the same way. Insulin is a drug that is designed to regulate the chemicals in the body so they function normally. Without the drug the diabetic could die. Drugs for depression are designed to regulate the chemicals in your brain to help it function normally.  Without psychiatric drugs the depressive could die as well, and usually by his own hand. 
I don't know what is on the other side. No one does. There will be plenty of people who claim to know based on a dogmatic belief. Their guess is no better than any other. 
I do know based upon the empirical evidence, all around us, that Life is hard wired to keep living independently AND human intelligence is not great enough to inform us when we need to move on. The world will always be a better place because you are here, do whatever you can to BE HERE NOW and find your peace of consciousness. 
As you were,

1 comment:

Rev. Lynn said...

Great essay Jay! I think it's Eckhart Tolle who talks about ego, and how some people would rather be "right" about their story even if it means their own death. As a minister, more often than not, when partnering with someone with a life threatening condition, I have found that their attachment to and sense of importance regarding their condition is more important to them than the truth that what they talk about and focus on becomes their reality and potential doom. They just love talking about their doctors, ailments, fancy words for everything, their own knowledge about the "condition". The story gives them a sense of aliveness but at what cost. Depression is insidious but not something that owns it's host. In this regard, "owning your depression or telling the story about your condition" are forms of slow certain suicide.