Tucker Carlson interviewed Johann Hari last night about the increase in the suicide rate in the United States. I’ve not read Hari’s book, “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — and the Unexpected Solutions,” but I plan to.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday that suicide rates are up 30% since 1999.
Unfortunately, in our celebrity-obsessed culture, it took the back-to-back recent suicides of two celebrities, fashion designer Kate Spade and television chef Anthony Bourdain, to bring national attention to this matter. 45,000 people kill themselves every years, which is about twice the number of homicides.
One of the more interesting findings of the CDC is that only about half of suicides had a diagnosed mental health issue. This doesn’t mean that the other half were mentally healthy. It likely means that most of the others had undiagnosed mental health issues, or stress levels that were finally pushed over the edge by a crisis.
In the CDC study, “Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates — United States, 1999-2016 and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide — 27 States, 2015,” the authors consider several factors impacting the suicide rate, including sex, age, and race/ethnicity. One of the factors they did not consider was religious practice. This is surprising, since it has been established that religious practice (not merely religious identification) reduces the risk of suicide substantially. An article from a couple of years ago in the thoroughly secular Los Angeles Times wrote of the much lower risk for suicide of women who are committed to the practice of their faith. Indeed, among the 7,000 Catholic women who reported attending Mass more than once a week, not one committed suicide.
This is not to say that doctors and therapists ought to be about the business of trying to convert people to religion. It is about the sincere faith and religious practice of their patients being a tool doctors and counselors can exploit to help them win the battle against severe depression and suicide. Given the evidence, to reject that tool or avoid the subject of religion as inappropriate for doctors and therapists is tantamount to malpractice.
The number and website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 1-800-273-TALK; http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.