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The US Goes Suicidal: How to Save Money and Lives

An extraordinary thing has happened…

Thanks to the courage of severely depressed Americans, neither chance nor intention…neither the gods nor ‘towel head’ terrorists…pose a bigger threat to them than they pose to themselves.

The New York Times has the story:


‘Suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade, prompting concern that a generation of baby boomers who have faced years of economic worry and easy access to prescription painkillers may be particularly vulnerable to self-inflicted harm.

‘More people now die of suicide than in car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published the findings in Friday’s issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In 2010, there were 33,687 deaths from motor vehicle crashes and 38,364 suicides.

‘Suicide has typically been viewed as a problem of teenagers and the elderly, and the surge in suicide rates among middle-aged Americans is surprising.

‘From 1999-2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35-64 rose by nearly 30%, to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 13.7. Although suicide rates are growing among both middle-aged men and women, far more men take their own lives. The suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000.’

We’re surprised it isn’t higher. We’ve seen the way Americans live. If we had to live in their houses…with their flat-screen televisions, dumpy wives and moron children…we would have blown our brains out long ago.

A single episode of a reality show can barely be endured; by the end of it, a man with taste or judgment already has his pistol in his hand. An entire presidential election campaign is practically a death sentence.

Probably more people succumb than we realize. Officials don’t like to report suicides. Relatives don’t appreciate it. Often, they give the deceased the benefit of the doubt, imagining that he was just stupid or reckless, rather than self-destructive.

‘It’s vastly underreported,’ said Julie Phillips, an associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University who has published research on rising suicide rates. ‘We know we’re not counting all suicides.’

That is why so many Americans are so deeply in favour of gun control. They do not fear others; they fear themselves.

Statistically, the chance that they will be a victim of someone else’s violence is slim. But they worry they will wake up one night and peer into the dark abyss of their own pathetic lives. Outlawing guns probably really does extend their lives…at least until they find the car keys.

With the numbers before us, you’d think we would at least stop wasting time and money protecting ourselves from terrorism and other bugaboos. The US ‘security’ budget, all in, is a fabulous sum: about $1 trillion per year. It seems foolish. The return on investment is paltry.

By comparison, suicide prevention – as near as we could make out – is barely a footnote in the federal budget: only about $56 million per year. This despite the fact that the risk to the typical reader posed by himself is about 1,000 times greater than the risk from ‘terrorists’.

You’d think we might slack off a little on health care spending too. Americans take all manner of potions and remedies, trying to keep the wreck on the road, at a cost of about $2.7 trillion last year. But what’s the point in changing the oil in a car you’re going to drive off a cliff?

But look on the bright side. Despite conditions in the US that make death seem attractive by comparison, about 300 million have hung on.

That is the shocking and amazing thing. Despite Homeland Security, drones, Facebook, rap, neo-cons, Barack Obama, tort lawyers, the IRS, Lindsay Lohan, Paul Krugman and Thomas L. Friedman – most Americans still have a will to live.

Yes, we are all bound for heaven or for hell. But most of us will pay any price and endure any indignity to avoid going there before we have to.

Others can’t wait…

Regards,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

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Bill Bonner
Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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3 Comments

  1. Stewart. says:

    Dear Bill,
    From your arrogence and lack of empathy I was trying to deduce your nationality. Your article on such a sad but all to true subject was at best flippant.
    Should you be removed from your all to privilaged perch and see all you have stived for and loved taken away, by no fault of your own, I wonder how you would cope.
    Not nice!!
    Stewart.

  2. slewie the pi-rat says:

    “That is why so many Americans are so deeply in favour of gun control. They do not fear others; they fear themselves.” L0L!

    the “will to live” (or loss of same)is only 1/2 of a successful suicide, i think.

    once i participated, as a student, in an afternoon graduate seminar: “Guilt: Theory and Therapy”, and a shrink was holding court. the first class, he arrived quite late and told us he was running a little late, but then got pulled over in his beemer. so, we got to talk about the psycho-dynamics of this event and how guilty he felt.

    people were commiserating with him, and when he gave me that professorial glance to participate, i just said it was a good thing the cop didn’t know he had been drinking.

    the dirty dozen or so at the table all looked at me like i mighta bitch-slapped Mother Teresa; Dr. Leadfoot just howled! so, that went well…

    the very next class was “Suicide 101, 201, and 301″.

    and he intro’d the subject formally [S. 101]: in order for a suicide to be “successful” [L0L x 2!], two personal aspects have to be “fully” operational:
    1) the success wanted to die {the will to live}.
    2) s/he also really, really, wanted to kill somebody.

    Dr. Leadfoot knew how to drive?
    he goes directly to:

    “S. 201″: we will all now share a time when we, personally, had a “suicidal ideation”. not IF we had one, but WHEN and what it [the ideation, not attempt] was around.
    now, this was quite challenging, b/c the seminar group was ~ 2 hours and 20 minutes old.
    the third person balked, and said no, thank you, she didn’t choose to share.

    Dr. L. lights her up: “i think everyone here is taking this for credit. class participation is not optional: we are sharing our ideations, not attempts.”
    talk about bitch-slapping Mother Teresa!
    so, they negotiate two turns for her and she comes in after slewie.

    people want to pussy-foot around about this issue, they are not gonna do it on Dr. Leadfoot’s watch!

    this gave us some insight into the commonality of ingredient #1).

    i don’t think we ever got to “S. 301″ which probably would have been: “whom would you like to kill and how can you deal with that so it doesn’t turn on you?”

    this is not rocket science, is it?

  3. slewie the pi-rat says:

    i met a guy when i was in my thirties.
    about my age.

    his dad had killed himself when he was 10.
    he had finished college and was in therapy with a Jungian. he was keeping a Journal and dream-work, and so forth.

    white, upwardly mobile, middle-class family, from the mid-west.

    and he was seeing a psychic. in San Francisco.

    he got through it, OK, i hope.
    never “fully”, probably.

    looking back now, i wonder if we may be more similar around this, than different.

    one of his parents ripped his heart out when he was a child.
    percentage-wise, very few people avoid this, even with a low family mortality rate.

    Kurt Vonnegut put it something like this: “My father killed my mother when i was 12.”

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