Stephen Rodrick writing for Rolling Stone:
The Centers for Disease Control recorded 47,173 suicides in 2017, and there were an estimated 1.4 million total attempts. Many of society’s plagues strike heavier at women and minorities, but suicide in America is dominated by white men, who account for 70 percent of all cases. Middle-aged men walk the point. Men in the United States average 22 suicides per 100,000 people, with those ages 45 to 64 representing the fastest-growing group, up from 20.8 per 100,000 in 1999 to 30.1 in 2017. The states with the highest rates are Montana, with 28.9 per 100,000 people; Alaska, at 27 per 100,000; and Wyoming, at 26.9 per 100,000 — all roughly double the national rate. New Mexico, Idaho and Utah round out the top six states. All but Alaska fall in the Mountain time zone.
Last summer, I began a 2,000-mile drive through the American West, a place of endless mythology and one unalterable fact: The region has become a self-immolation center for middle-aged American men. The image of the Western man and his bootstraps ethos is still there, but the cliché has a dark turn — when they can no longer help themselves, they end themselves. I found men who sought help and were placed on a 72-hour hold in a hospital ward, and say they were sent home at the end of their stay without any help, collapsing back into the fetal position — the only thing accomplished was everyone in the small town now knew they were ill. I found men on both sides of the Trump divide: One whose anger toward his abusive parents was exacerbated by hours in his basement watching Fox News and Trump while drinking vodka; the other was a Buddhist mortician whose cries for help were met by scorn in a cowboy county that went 70 percent for Trump.
Sometimes they are famous names such as Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade that make headlines, but they are all sons or daughters, friends or colleagues, valued members of families and communities.
Suicide is the most extreme and visible symptom of the larger mental health emergency we are so far failing to adequately address. Stigma, fear and lack of understanding compound the suffering of those affected and prevent the bold action that is so desperately needed and so long overdue.
One in four of us will have to deal with a mental health condition at some point in our lives, and if we’re not directly affected, someone we care for is likely to be. Our young people are particularly vulnerable, with suicide being the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 year olds and half of all mental illness beginning by the age of 14.
This is from an opinion piece by Lady Gaga and Tedros Adhanom, Director general of the World Health Organization, published in The Guardian.
It’s not surprising to read that one in four children in Canada are overweight or obese, and only one in three school-age children meet minimum physical activity guidelines.
But other published findings about the health and well being of our children in Canada might be surprising.
Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health have just published a new report examining the mental and physical health of the 7.9 million young people under the age of 19. “Many Canadians think this is one of the best countries in the world to raise a child, but the statistics prove otherwise,” says Sara Austin, founder and lead director of Children First Canada.
She notes that Canada ranks a middling 25th out of 41 countries in UNICEF ranking of well-being of children and youth.
Life expectancy in the US has not kept pace with progress in other industrialized nations and is now decreasing.
Mortality among adults aged 25-64 years in the United States has increased across racial-ethnic populations, especially in recent years, offsetting years of progress in lowering mortality rates.
Drug overdoses were the leading cause of increased mortality in midlife in each population, but mortality also increased for alcohol related conditions, suicides, and organ diseases involving multiple body systems. Although midlife mortality among whites increased across a multitude of conditions, a similar trend affected non-white populations.
Jonathan Kaiman, Los Angeles Times:
Almost no one jumps on rainy days.
They jump when the sun returns and the masses step outside, reminding them of their misery. They jump during financial crises and in the early spring, when Japanese schools open and the pressures of life converge.
Yukio Shige’s routine, though, is the same regardless of the weather.
Nearly every day, he clambers across the high basalt columns of the Tojinbo cliffs, the Sea of Japan thrashing 80 feet below. He peers into binoculars, seeking hunched figures on distant rocks, ready to talk them down.
In 15 years, he’s walked 609 people back from the edge.
“The way I save people, it’s like I’m seeing a friend,” said Shige, 73, a retired policeman with a floppy fishing hat and a gentle demeanor. “It’s not exciting or anything. I’m like, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ These people are asking for help. They’re just waiting for someone to speak with them.”
David Smith, The Guardian:
A gathering of Silicon Valley alumni and whistleblowers and Washington lobbyists in the US capital heard warnings of potential links between tech addiction and sleep disruption, poor academic performance, anxiety, depression, obesity, social isolation and suicide.
Conference organiser James Steyer, chief executive and founder of Common Sense Media, a not-for-profit promoting safe technology and media for children, criticised giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. He said: “Talk is cheap. Show me the money. Period.”
There were pleas for Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook co-founder and chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, to apply values they advocate for their own families. Steyer added: “Mark and Sheryl at Facebook are good people. They are parents too. They have to think about their own kids when making a big picture decision there.”