“So long, to you
I hope I don’t make you blue
But I think I’m gonna kill myself
I think I’m gonna kill myself”
1950’s singer Buddy Knox
The American Psychological Association says, “The [United States] suicide rate increased 33 percent from 1999 through 2017, from 10.5 to 14 suicides per 100,000 people.” At the same time, suicide rates in the other industrialized countries dropped. Wonder about that!
From my teen years, I’ve always been preoccupied with suicide. I’ve had several reasons for putting it off:
- Coffee. No matter how bad everything else seems to get, I have always enjoyed coffee
- Clarice Tinsley. Back in the sex-mad 1970s, I remember speeding my hot motorcycle down a Houston highway with self-murder on my mind. I passed a billboard with smiling television newsperson Clarice Tinsley on it and thought, “As long as I am alive, there’s still a chance of having sex someday with Clarice Tinsley, and that’s a good enough reason to keep going.”
- New Developments. Nowadays, with the progressive movement booming, I just can’t stand the thought of missing anything.
In a logical sense, though, I convinced myself as a teenager that “At the nadir of ‘why live,’ is the acme of ‘why not.’ If living is totally empty, dying is still no better than living. In other words, even when I could no longer think of any reason to go on living, I still couldn’t think of a good enough reason to stop. I continue my lifelong obsession with suicide, but I keep putting it off.
Some of the sages point out that people don’t kill themselves because of the effect it would have on them. They kill themselves because of the effect it would have on somebody else. I may have planned elaborate, step-by-step plans for dying, but I also plan for how it would affect other people. When we admit that, it’s a good reason for not doing it.
Still, though, all other things being equal, there is still a deadly American trend that begs to be understood.
Who is killing ourselves?
Our nation’s domination of the world has been slipping since the mid 1970s, but we’ve been slow to realize it. If that’s the reason for the increase in suicides, and I think it is, then we can expect to see more and more Americans offing themselves. The only way to get the United States back “on top” is to have another world war, and we’d have so many deaths then that suicides wouldn’t even been noticed.
I’m theorizing that we are killing ourselves because so many of us have lost hope. It is a direct result of our political apathy. Not only do many of us see and feel no hope, we also don’t see any improvement in the future. There is, however, a tiny subset of the American population that is immune to suicide.
Who isn’t killing ourselves?
The people who aren’t killing themselves, and aren’t likely to, are the ones who believe that a better world is possible. They are the people who are helping bring about that better world. They wouldn’t dream of suicide. If we can convince the rest of you to join the effort, we could establish a counter-trend.
“They never stopped his smiling
No matter how they tried
Cause in his heart he always knew
He was on the winning side!”
–My own song about a devoted Communist named George Meyers