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Suicide — Another Side-Effect of the Economic Crisis

A well-used life saver (h/t GarySmith70)

When otherwise healthy people get the flu, they are miserable for a couple of days while their bodies fight off the disease, then things improve and they’re fine. If someone has a compromised immune system, however, an otherwise mild virus can become deadly.

Now shift from physical conditions to mental ones.

When otherwise mentally healthy people get laid off, see their savings spiraling down the tubes, have banks threatening to repossess their homes, or get otherwise personally caught up in our national economic crises, they are miserable while trying to figure out what to do in response and how to come to terms with their new reality. When people with underlying mental health issues (clinical depression, PTSD, substance abuse, etc.) find themselves in these circumstances, however, it becomes exponentially harder for them to cope with the exterior economic stresses.

This is where the situation becomes dangerous.

From Miles Moffeit in the Business Section of the Denver Post:

The phone calls usually come in the evening after the machinery goes silent on farms across the country. The callers speak of dwindling cash flows, crumbling marriages. Some admit they’re holding a loaded gun.

Across a wide swath of rural America, increasing numbers of farmers are considering taking their lives.

The nation’s largest network of crisis hotlines for agricultural workers reports a spike of 2,000 calls through May compared with the same period last year — a 20 percent increase.

You can replace “farmers in rural America” with financial industry folks in NYC, automakers/dealers/parts suppliers in Detroit, real estate folks in California, or any number of other occupations and locales. The economic crisis is putting heavy psychological pressure on people, and medical examiners are not liking what they are seeing.

In a society that (sadly) often measures the worth of a person by their wealth and the importance of a person by their job title, the loss of a job, a home, and a career can be devastating. Feelings of failure, isolation, loneliness, and being adrift can turn into feelings of powerlessness, worthlessness, and despair . . . and this is the path toward suicide.

As a pastor, I’ve helped talk people out of suicide, and I’ve also failed at talking people out of suicide. I’ve presided at the funerals of people who committed suicide, and sat with loved ones long after the funeral was over. I’m not a psychologist, but what is clear to me in my dealings with suicide is this: it is not an individual problem, but a communal one. Obviously, the person who attempts suicide is affected by it, but it also affects that person’s family, friends, neighbors, and community. The solution to suicide, similarly, is communal.

Or, in more simple language: We are each other’s keepers.

Especially when times are tough.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has lots of helpful information for those who are concerned about this issue, including warning signs of suicide and knowing how to respond to them.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It’s free, confidential, and they’ve got a national network of 130 crisis centers to help. If that’s too much to remember, just call 911.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.