I originally wrote this article in June, and like many articles I write, didn't publish it at the time. Recently I had a conversation with a friend and his 11 year old daughter about how their friend killed himself in April, and the suicide rate of children and young adults had increased, possibly due to social media. I was very unprepared for the conversation, but considering I wrote this five months ago, I should not have been surprised. It won’t be the last time I have this conversation.
After Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain both died within a week, a lot of people are talking about suicide. So I thought I would write an article about it too.
There are about 45,000 suicides a year in the USA, which is more than there used to be, although there are more Americans than there used to be too. Also, about half of those are completed using guns. If guns weren’t a thing, there wouldn't be as many successful suicides. It’s more men than women who do it. And farmers, construction workers, and extraction workers (mining, forestry) have the high rates as professions.
Having lived a large portion of my life in rural areas, yet not really being a rural person, I have perspective on this that many of my city only friends probably do not. There will be more people that FEEL that ending their lives is the best option. FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS. You may feel hopeless, but you are not hopeless. You may feel you life has no upside, but your life does have upside. While these words might not comfort the person with a gun in his mouth, because in the moment, those feelings are his truth and his existence, for a person a step away from the act it’s a huge realization that feelings are not facts.
I can’t imagine what it FEELS like to be with the same person for 33 years and then be separated for ten months, plus have depression (as Kate Spade was). (I haven’t had a girlfriend for six months yet…) I can’t imagine what it FEELS like to blow $50,000 on a poker streak. I can’t imagine what it FEELS like when you are a half million dollars underwater on your farm, and the price of corn drops two dollars a bushel the week before harvest. I do know what it feels like when you do not live up to your own expectations, and that’s all I want to say about that today.
Rural areas are declining. Montgomery county, Kansas has declined from 51,000 in the 1930 census to around 33,000 now, while the population of the USA has gone from 123 million to 325 million. There just isn’t the promise of more wealthy life than your parents and opportunity for good paying jobs in rural areas that there was for their parents or especially grandparents. Most will make do. Many will move closer to a city. The world will keep spinning. But there will be more suicides.
Japan and Europe are examples of what the USA will become. With declining birthrates (and thus declining growth, because more people = more growth) rural areas are most effected but the nation as a whole is so we will likely legalize assisted suicide in maybe 20 years or so. I’m strongly against it, but then again I say that with the assumption that people have things worth living for. There are those willing to believe people have nothing to live for.
I ended the title with a semicolon; because there will be some that hold the knife to their chest and cry and don’t follow through when they could have ended their sentence. It may feel like the end, but it is not the end. There is life after depression. There is hope after hopelessness. Feelings are not fact; regardless of how strong they are.
I pray that you, my friends, will never have these demons, and that you might be there for your friends when they have these awful feelings so that you can share the hope that exists. For me that is the hope in Jesus Christ, and it is also the hope in the future of my life and everyone's life that our relationships would blossom, our pain would decrease, and there would be more love in the world. That may not be the case for any of us in this world, but it would certainly be nice.