Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. ~Aesop
The Golden Gate Bridge - The Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
Suicide - the act of a human being intentionally causing his or her own death.
Not-so-fun Fact - The four most popular locations in the world for committing suicide are reportedly San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct (before the construction of the Luminous Veil), Japan's Aokigahara Forest and England's Beachy Head. In 2005 the Golden Gate Bridge had a count exceeding 1,200 jumpers since its construction in 1937.
The Bridge - A movie documenting the suicide attempts in 2004 at the Golden Gate Bridge.
I watched that movie last night. I literally watched almost a dozen deaths. Right there on my television.
Morbid fascination with the Golden Gate Bridge now, as you can imagine. Why there? Why so often?
Why suicide? Ever?
I have always been fascinated by the human mind. What happens when that something "snaps" or as I like to say, "Does not click." What is going on chemically, and could it be avoided. I am sure my psychology friends could answer this quite quickly.. but instead, I thought I would do a little simple research on the issue.
There are thousands of websites discussing suicide. Helps center, crisis lines, etc. I always chuckle when I call one of my friends, Julie, on her cell phone. She is an actual therapist and on her voicemail it says, "If this is a real medical emergency, you can call the crisis line at XYZ or 911."
But the thing is - if you choose to commit suicide, why would you call anyone to talk you out of it? Unless that was a simple cry for help? I think most people make the decision on their own.. and it seems there is nothing you can do about it.
Here are some basic facts about suicide:
- Over one million people die by suicide every year.
- The World Health Organization estimates that it is the thirteenth-leading cause of death worldwide
- The National Safety Council rates it sixth in the United States.
- It is a leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35.
- The rate of suicide is higher in men than in women.
- There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year worldwide. (Ouch)
Mental disorders are frequently present at the time of suicide with estimates from 87% to 98%. When broken down into type mood disorders are present in 30%, substance abuse in 18%, schizophrenia in 14%, and personality disorders in 13% of suicides. About 5% of people with schizophrenia die of suicide.
Depression, one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders is being diagnosed in increasing numbers in various segments of the population worldwide, and is often a precipitating factor in suicide. Depression in the United States alone affects 17.6 million Americans each year or 1 in 6 people. Within the next twenty years depression is expected to become the second leading cause of disability worldwide and the leading cause in high-income nations, including the United States. Stroke is the first leading cause of disability.
According to one source, socio-economic factors such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and discrimination may trigger suicidal thoughts. Poverty may not be a direct cause but it can increase the risk of suicide, as it is a major risk group for depression.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, "religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation." Moreover, individuals with no religious affiliation had fewer moral objections to suicide than believers.
One study found that a lack of social support, a deficit in feelings of belongingness and living alone were crucial predictors of a suicide attempt. One study found that among prison inmates, suicide was more likely among inmates who had committed a violent crime.
When I did a google search on methods of suicide, this is what I found:
The leading method of suicide varies dramatically between countries. The leading methods in different regions include hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms. Worldwide 30% of suicides are from pesticides. The use of this method however varies markedly from 4% in Europe to more than 50% in the Pacific region. In the United States 52% of suicides involve the use of firearms. Asphyxiation (such as with a suicide bag) and poisoning are fairly common as well.
Together they comprised about 40% of U.S. suicides. Other methods of suicide include blunt force trauma (jumping from a building or bridge, self-defenestrating, stepping in front of a train, or car collision, for example). Exsanguination or bloodletting (slitting one's wrist or throat), intentional drowning, self-immolation, electrocution, and intentional starvation are other suicide methods. Individuals may also intentionally provoke another person into administering lethal action against them, as in suicide by cop.
Whether or not exposure to suicide is a risk factor for suicide is controversial. A 1996 study was unable to find a relationship between suicides among friends, while a 1986 study found increased rates of suicide following the televisation of news stories regarding suicide.
At the end of the day, what causes someone to take that final plunge (excuse the pun) is truly unknown. There many different factors that figure in.
Tomorrow I will share tips on recognizing if you or someone you love has suicidal tendencies and what you can do about it.
For now, I would recommend you watch The Bridge. It's fascinating and it is heartbreaking.