Quantcast

«

»

Mar 24 2013

Suicide is Painless

One of the biggest influences in the kind of doctor I wanted to be wasn’t my parents but a TV show. I know it sounds cliche but everything I learnt about being there for your patients I learnt from MASH.

Suicide in the UK has become the biggest killer of young men aged 30 to 44. Every day 3 young men take their own lives (on average) and a lot of the reasons for their deaths is the recession and economic downturn. In 2011 4500 men took their lives out of 6050 total. To point out how high this number in the 30-44 age bracket is? Suicide caused the deaths of more people than road accidents, murder and HIV/AIDS combined.

The economic climate and social insecurity has lead to increased insecurity over work, family, housing, social isolation and substance abuse, and this mainly affects the age group of 30 to 44 where job losses are felt harder.

We listen, we really do. I used to volunteer during Christmas at a Samaritans Call Center (one of the worst times of the year for suicides due to the pain of loneliness) because I was a Hindu/Atheist and Christmas was just a day for cheesy telly and Dr. Who specials. There is a “cultural barrier” when it comes to asking for help.

Yes. I witnessed it during my own travails. When I lost my laptop and camera to age (7 year old laptop come April) and weather (Water got into the camera body due to ham-fisted people handling it) I was worried about asking for help. When I did ask for help I had people stating that you can donate to “better” causes because a laptop is less important than housing. I even got told to “get a Job” without any sense of irony of what I do.

The culture treats asking for help as a man as weak. It isn’t. No man is an island. And humans are stronger as a group. There is no shame in asking for help, there is however shame in denigrating those who need help. You aren’t weak, you are human and humans need help from each other. It’s what makes us strong. That rather than leave our vulnerable feed the tiger we would stand and fight to save them. The tiger here is depression and futility and fear and sadness.

The recession in the UK has increased the rate of suicides by a 1000 more per year. 846 in the men and 155 women (University of Liverpool).

I have lost friends to suicide. PTSD and Depression claimed their lives.

If you want to talk, contact CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. If you are in the USA 1 (800) 273-TALK.

If you are in India then contact Aasra at 91-22-27546669

Suffering is Painful, but we can help. We can take some of the burden. It’s the human thing to do.

11 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    dab

    The culture treats asking for help as a man as weak. It isn’t. No man is an island. And humans are stronger as a group. There is no shame in asking for help, there is however shame in denigrating those who need help. You aren’t weak, you are human and humans need help from each other. It’s what makes us strong. That rather than leave our vulnerable feed the tiger we would stand and fight to save them. The tiger here is depression and futility and fear and sadness.

    This deserves to be quoted in lots of places. But it’s also something I need to take to heart. Thank you.

  2. 2
    MaryL

    I’d like to remind everyone that if someone starts talking about suicide, please take that seriously and do what you can to help or get them to help. Suicide threats should never be ignored. People who are having problems may only mention it but take that as a threat. I’m speaking from experience.

  3. 3
    Anthony K

    Here in Alberta, Canada, age-specific suicide rates show a similar pattern to those the UK (much higher for men than women, and highest among middle aged men.)*

    An opportunity for intervention may exist in the fact that most adults who die by suicide will have accessed the health care system, even if not specifically for mental health issues: physicians—especially those in primary care—who are aware that suicide risk among men increases into middle age and are watchful for warning signs may be able to intervene on behalf of those men who are unlikely to seek out help on their own.*†

    Thanks, Avicenna.

    *Source is here: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2011003/article/11516-eng.htm

    †Not sure how applicable this is to the UK, but given that both the UK and Canada have publicly funded health care systems, it’s not an unreasonable assumption.

  4. 4
    Anthony K

    Of course, those of us who aren’t physicians do well to take MaryL’s advice.

  5. 5
    jasonfailes

    Good post, irrelevant aside: it took me years to even give MASH a watch as a kid because of the supersad opening imagery and music.

  6. 6
    MaryL

    jasonfailes: I think there are two important things to know about the song. One, the title is a pun. In the movie, the dentist who was known as The Painless Pole, decided to kill himself. Most, or all of the verses, are sung at his “Last Supper”. And, two, the last line of the chorus, “And I can take or leave it if I please,” carries a bit of hope. As bad as things get, suicide doesn’t have to be the only option. Painless was given a pill he thought would kill him. His friends at the MASH gave him a placebo and a night to remember with one of the nurses. No, she wasn’t forced, she agreed to do it. She was ‘ Lt. Dish’. If you’ve never seen the movie, give it a try.

  7. 7
    Claga Trix (@ClagaTrix)

    I had a friend commit suicide in my home. I had to cut him down and it is something I think about nearly every day, and probably will until I die. (I’ve said this before on FtBs, so sorry for repeating, but it’s true.)

    When the coroner came to investigate the scene, he told us something I also will never forget.

    He said he’d been a coroner for about 25 or 30 years and that he’d been cleaning up about 1 suicide per week for almost his entire career. Sometimes more.

    Thats 25*52*25= 32500. In a small, mostly rural county with one city of about 250,000. That is a lot of suicides.

    He pointed out that families didn’t mention suicide in obituaries, don’t talk about it and so people don’t know how common it is. Because no one talks about it and so very few of us grasp how common it is. If as many people were dying of, say, a communicable disease there would be total panic over it. Suicides though?

    Not so much. Its just background noise we don’t talk about.

    I think about my friend a lot. I think about that day a lot. And I think about what that coroner said almost as much. He also said he didn’t believe there was anyone who hadn’t been affected by it, but that none on of us know that because we never talk about it. I kind of suspect that’s true.

  8. 8
    leni

    Oops sorry that was me. Accidentally logged in spam account

  9. 9
    MaryL

    Claga Trix – You have my sympathy for what you had to deal with. I can’t imagine carrying that with me. I’ve known two people who suicided but when they did, I no longer lived in the same state. I spent a lot of time on long-distance calls and internet chat with people who loved them.

    It’s a subject that must be discussed – for the good of people like you, and other friends and family who are affected. That elephant is in the room and we ignore it at our peril. We may help save a life. Maybe we won’t, but how do we know if we don’t try? We might help families and friends. And we help ourselves.

    I’ve always been considered the odd one because I chose my own path. Now and then, I’ve annoyed the hell out of people by bringing up ‘things we don’t talk about’ or’ want to talk about’, or; shouldn’t talk about’… if I folowed that example, I’d be ignoring the elephant I mentioned. When I could manage it, I took MY elephant around, hoping to find people willing to discuss it. Sometimes I did. And sometimes, it helped.

    I’ve also put a bit of distance between myself and those who refuse to acknowledge the elephant. They chose to ignore reality and, as hard as it is, I try to live with it. Take care.

  10. 10
    Marcus Ranum

    25*52*25= 32500

    One suicide/week for 25 years is 25 * 52 or 1300.

  11. 11
    leni

    Derp. I have no idea where that extra 25 came from and why I didn’t double check that lol. Thanks Marcus :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>