In a study set to be published in the November 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, suicide has now passed car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Car accidents had held this inglorious distinction for quite some time. This switch was due to the rate for suicide increasing by 15% from 2000 to 2009, while the rate for car accidents decreased by 25% over the same period of time.
The glass half full people will point to the decrease in fatal car accidents and attribute it to all the great safety measures in the automotive industry and increased education about traffic laws and rules. Its such a great world that we live in where technology and education can merge and save countless lives. You would think that the same experience and advances in education that have limited car accidents would also limit suicides. I’m sure we’ve gotten better at spotting the warning signs and thus should be stopping more suicides than before. Yet one number is decreasing while the other is rising? On the flip-side, the glass half empty people will say look at this miserable world we live in that more and more people are wanting to kill themselves, ughhhh you cruel cruel world.
The truth I feel might be somewhere in the middle. Yes, technology and advancements have made our world much better, I’m certainly no anti-technology guy. I pretty much could not function without my smartphone and Internet connection. I believe it does make our lives better, easier, and more productive. It also at the same time though makes our world smaller. It makes it so that there is no limit to your ambition, and at the same time no reason to excuse your inability to be successful. In older times it might have been perfectly acceptable to just live and die in the same small little town without ever having left it. You were almost expected to just do what your parents did and ambition was a rarity. That is not the case anymore, our world is much larger. There are so many options and no limit on what you can do. Ambition used to be the rarity, now its almost the rule.
Ignorance as they say, used to be bliss and gave people something to hide behind. The backlash to all the options that are available now, is that there are also no excuses. If you struggle with life, its pretty much your own fault. Its not the system and its not the lack of resources, its just basic fear, laziness, or just plainly you suck at life. This I think has lead to a lot more people just saying fuck it, I’m done with this and I want out.
Darwinists of course will argue that this is all just natural selection. More specifically, the Social Darwinist Herbert Spencer’s coined term “survival of the fittest” is at work weeding out the people that can’t keep up with the increased ceiling and expectations for people’s lives. If you can’t keep up, you’ll just off yourself. Hopefully before you have a chance to procreate and spread your non society seed around. Yet often times I also think that two people who are both teetering on the brink might be drawn together and find solace in their common bond of wanting to end it all. These two people might then be staved off the brink through love, and might even start a family full of people setting the natural selection back. People of science can never factor in the power of love. Love can conquer all.
Another interesting thing about these statistics is of course that they are about the United States. The good ol’ US of A, the greatest country in the world where anything is possible. This is a great country to live in, and I would never have it any other way. Yet, I do feel that it might be our curse when it comes to these numbers. I think a lot of people in other places have a lot more hope than we have here. Maybe its my inflated opinion of our country around the world, but I think people in other countries still believe in the quintessential “American Dream” a lot more than people in our own do. No matter how bad things can get in your life in your country, you can always keep that hope alive that you’re going to get out and move to the United States where dreams are possible. If your here already, you don’t really have that light at the far end of the tunnel type of hope. You might think I’m gonna move down to Nicaragua and just start all over man, but that’s more of a I’ve been beaten feeling than the glimmer of the good life that the American Dream hope can provide.
All in all it is quite a sad state of affairs when people making a deliberate choice to end their life takes more lives than these speeding piles of metal we hurtle ourselves around strapped in at ever increasing speeds. I don’t think that things should ever get so bad that people want to just end their lives. As they say its a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide shows to me just a lack of hope. Maybe Hollywood is to blame, movies have gotten too realistic rather than the campy uplifting fair of the good ol’ days. Whatever the situation is, I think the main problem is just a lack of hope. We have to do something to restore some hope in this depressing place man. Do our world a favor today, go out and give out some hope, its free.