Like a lot of people, when I first heard that the pilot who crashed a jet into the Alps last week had a note from a doctor saying he was unfit to fly and that he'd suffered from mental illness, I assumed the system had failed him — and failed the 149 other people aboard that airliner.
Generally, all suicide prevention advocates want to normalize the subject of suicide so that people who are feeling suicidal or have lost a loved one to suicide feel safe talking about it with others. Mass media and entertainment (like television shows and movies) can be conversation starters, with one exception: Suicide prevention organizations want the media to address the topic of suicide in a way that promotes suicide prevention. This is why so many suicide prevention organizations have a problem with Netflix’s show 13 Reasons Why.
We just heard the devastating news that Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington took his own life today. A father of six and an immensely talented musician, Chester’s suicide is a blow to millions - including suicide prevention advocates who are also music aficionados (and vice versa).
As the world reacts, here are a few talking points the public should know:
We all empathize with our friends and family, when they are going through a rough time. All we want to do is help take their pain away—and there are a variety of paths we can take to help them with that pain. For loved ones struggling with their mental health, there are also multiple ways to try and alleviate that pain, but suicide should never be one that is encouraged because no matter how bad life can seem, there are always better routes to take.
The city of Pittsburgh lies at the confluence of three major rivers, but, as you might expect, the number of bridges is far higher.
Repeated threats, physical or verbal attacks, rumors, and exclusion all fall into the category of bullying. Unfortunately, in recent years, bullying has become prevalent at college campuses, and according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, approximately 20% of all students reported being bullied in 2016.
Middle-aged white people in the United States are bucking a global trend as they face an escalation in deaths from suicide, overdose and alcohol related deaths, according to a study from Anne Case and Angus Deaton of Princeton University.
“You have to treat the root of the problem, and not just operate on the symptoms,” explained Ebbem, a Norwegian medical student and my seatmate on a recent flight from Oslo to Amsterdam. “When I did my psychiatric rotations in northern Norway, I would ask people ‘How are you today?’ and they would talk for great lengths and detail about everything that was bothering them. It was as if no one had ever asked them ‘How are you today?’ It was clear they had a lot to get off their chest. It helped that I was an outsider who they had never met and had no long-term presence in their community.”
Men in the middle years — that is, men between the ages of 35 to 64 — make up less than a fifth of the U.S. population. They also account for 40 percent of suicides.
As I mentioned in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) Spark Talk video, because of the large number of people in this demographic and its high rate of suicide, it will not be possible to reduce the overall number of suicides in the U.S. unless the MIMY suicide rate drops.