On Sunday a 16 year old girl jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. She intended to kill herself. Every 17 minutes a suicide succeeds in the United States. Hers did not. She was extremely lucky. A sailboat came to her aid and the skipper jumped in to hold her face out of the water until the Coast Guard arrived. She is expected to survive her injuries. The few who do say they knew right away that they wanted to live.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 - 24, the eleventh leading cause for all Americans. Each suicide intimately affects at least six other people. One out of every 64 Americans has lost a loved one to suicide in the last 25 years.
Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.
I used to listen to Garrison Keillor's popular program, A Prairie Home Companion. His monologues can be very funny - laugh out loud funny when you're driving somewhere with the radio on. One day his monologue segment was about Prozac. Prozac is an antidepressant. It is not a tranquillizer, not a narcotic. It does not give you a quick "high". It works to achieve balanced brain chemistry and relieve the helpless and hopeless symptoms of depression. Keillor's segment was cruel. It portrayed a suburban clique of elderly people trafficking in black market Prozac to take advantage what he called the weak-willed market for drugs. Mr. Keillor apparently did not know that there has been a significant increase in the suicide rate in the over 75 age group.
I wrote to Mr. Keillor. I told him that in my view he had contributed to the stigma that prevents many from seeking help for depression. I provided information and expressed surprise at his ignorance. The reply I received was a form letter thanking me for listening to his program. I don't, anymore.
Please learn the facts. Visit the Suicide website. Put their hotline number in your phone directory: 1 800 784 2433. In the time I have taken to write this post 2 more have died at their own hand. Take the offense against this tragedy. Stop the stigma.