Suicide in the United States Essay Example
In 2019 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in America, with almost 50,000 Americans dying from suicide in just that year (Gordon 2019). Although America is constantly growing and developing as a country, we are still failing to take a better and deeper look at people’s mental health. It’s very important we get people who suffer with mental disorders the help they need, and let them know that what they're feeling is completely okay. Many people fail to report the issues they are struggling with as they feel it will make them look "weak", which can cause them to bottle everything up, creating a feeling of suffering. A big start we can do to help, is to make people feel safe enough to report their struggles without feeling as if they're being looked down upon.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, every year America’s suicide rates are increasing. In 2019 there were nearly two and a half times as many suicides in the United States as there were homicides (Gordon 2019). Looking at the demographics it’s been shown that men are 3.63x times more likely to commit suicide (Gordon 2019). Although women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and to attempt suicide, the male suicide rate is still much higher than female. Though it sounds cliche, one huge factor is that for generations, society has had this image that men always need to be “strong” and not have any feelings, and even if they might be struggling inside they aren’t meant to show or admit to it (Schumacher 2019). From a young age men are conditioned to think that crying or showing their emotions is a sign of weakness. As children, parents might say this to them because they think it is for their own good, but what some don't realize is the great effect this has on these young men later on in life. There also tends to be more drug and substance abuse in men than in women. Alcohol and drug use can deepen depression, cause outbreaks, and impulsive behavior (Schumacher 2019). Men are also more likely to get addicted to alcohol, which is a risk factor for suicide (Schumacher 2019). It has also been shown that states with weaker gun laws tend to have higher suicide rates (Alban 2018). In 2013 there was a study done by Augustine Kposowa, that indicted firearm availability at the state level was associated with significantly higher odds of individual suicide. America is the only country without any limitations on gun possession in its constitution (Weiss & Pasley 2019). Prisoner suicides and attempts are also rapidly increasing. In the U.S the suicide rate among prisoners is nearly 4 times as high as the general population.
Although there are protocols for inmate suicide, there clearly needs to be some more work done as the suicide rate in prison is still at a high. And of course what can’t be forgotten is the use of social media. Children and young adults under the age of 25 who have experienced cyberbullying are twice as more likely to self half or to attempt suicide (Swansea 2018). Growing up you learn about how the internet can be a “ bad place”, but it’s actually quite terrifying. For example, on the very popular app Tiktok the environment is quite toxic. The app is very big on “cancelling” many users. Cancel culture or call out- culture, is a modern form of shaming and cancelling someone for something they have done whether it’s in the past or present. One of the biggest examples are tik tok stars Charli and Dixie D’amelio. Back in December, the two sisters uploaded a youtube video of their chef giving them new foods to try, one being snails. Dixie spit out the snails, and Charli asked if they had dino nuggets instead. Due to their actions in the video they received an extreme amount of backlash. People were calling them rude, ungrateful, and they were even receiving death threats. Though their actions may not have been the most polite, there was definitely a better way to go about it than to tell the teenage girls to die. Even after the girls spoke out and apologized, it took a long time before fans actually started to let it go. The act of cancel culture gives people, especially those with a platform no chance to learn or even apologize for their wrong doings, once you’ve messed up you’re quite literally done for. This is absurd because at the end of the day we are all human, and we are all going to make mistakes whether it's big or small.. This act has caused many people to stop using their social media accounts and put them in a depressive state. Cyberbullying is the most common form of harassment that people experience, most likely due to the fact that it's very easy to hide your identity. But just because something is said online and not directly to someone's face doesn’t make these spiteful words okay, or even hurt less.
With all this background information, the question here is what can be done to help prevent more suicide cases, that we haven’t done before? A natural way we tend to respond to those who might struggle mentally is for them to seek professional help, but it’s really not that simple. Therapy is not cheap, not everyone has the privilege to afford to go. Most of the time therapy is also not covered by any health insurance. Some teenagers also don’t have the benefit of having parents who will allow them to go to therapy, and If you’re under 18 you must have a parent/guardian with you to sign off on paperwork. There is the national suicide hotline, but those who have called the line say it’s useless. One girl made a video about the hotline that went viral on tik tok. She was on the verge of ending her life and her last hope was calling, they had her on hold for almost an hour. Most people who are calling these lines don’t even have an hour to spare. There must be more programs where people can seek the help they need without spending so much money, or needing parental consent to sign up. Another way we can help bring down these numbers is by enforcing stricter gun laws. Not just anybody should be allowed to purchase a gun. There needs to be background checks enforced. People who fall under the category of possibly self harming should not be allowed to purchase a gun. In Wyoming, where about 63% of households carry a gun- rates of suicide are higher, versus in New Jersey, the state with the lowest suicide rates, open carry is only allowed with a permit and typically not practiced unless carried on duty. Enforcing stricter gun laws would most definitely help those who could potentially self harm. Now to help prevent suicides in prisons, all facilities should be equipped with suicide resistant cells. This restricts the inmates of bedsheets, or things to tie/be able to hang themselves with. It should also be standard procedure to interview the inmates parents/ family members to see if the inmate could be at risk for suicide, or if the family might have any concerns.
Lastly, cyberbullying has been ongoing for generations now and there doesn’t seem to be a solution found on how to get it to stop. Unfortunately, we can’t get every single human to say nice things and not be hateful. But what can be done is parents doing more to ensure their children aren’t experiencing things like cyberbullying. Parents need to be familiar with how these social networking apps work. It is especially important to monitor your child's social media while they’re still at a young age. It’s also necessary to build trust with one’s kids and set time limits. Cyberbullying might not be able to be stopped as a whole, but parents can do more to ensure their children’s safety online.
Suicide rates are increasing in America every single year because nothing new seems to be done. There clearly needs to be new methods and better ways to help those who might be struggling with a mental disorder so that these numbers decrease. Although there aren’t many ways that an everyday citizen can be effective in making these changes, we can do things such as encouraging social media apps to enforce stricter rules. We also need to hold people in positions of power accountable to lower these death rates. These sucide rates are preventable, we just need to put in the effort.