22.7.08

The Urge to End It All

This is an article that appeared in the New York Times on July 6 and I finally read it - pencil in hand to underline the important bits. It's recommended reading for those of us with an interest in having a suicide barrier built on the Golden Gate Bridge, especially if we are going to the Open Houses today and tomorrow (I'm only going once) to possibly talk with bridge officials. I draw the line at talking to the press.

I have done quite a bit of reading about suicide over the past 14 months, but found things in this article I didn't know yet (everybody studying suicide has a different theory about the "why" and different opinions on predictability and whether anything can be done about it).

This article concentrated on impulsive suicides which tend to be more deadly than those that are premeditated. I didn't know that, but I did know that jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the deadliest forms of suicide: less than 2% of jumpers survive. Gunshots are 85-92% fatal, overdoses, poisonings even less so. Couldn't find numbers on hangings, the most common form in Germany (my father was a homicide detective and cut plenty of people out of trees).
Of special interest was the study by Richard Seiden, a professor at UC Berkeley who found that of the 515 people who were prevented from jumping between 1937 and 1971, only 6% went on to take their lives.

Anyway, enough editorializing, I highly recommend reading this article and, just in case the link in the title doesn't work, here it is again:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/magazine/06suicide-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

2 comments:

GraceBeading said...

Thanks for the link, I read it with great interest. My mother's suicide doesn't fall into any of the 'normal' categories. She shot herself in the head and appeared to have planned it for a few days anyway, she was also a grandmother in her 40's at the time. But she did battle with mental illness and quite a few suicide attempts over the course of many years. I'm not one that blames the gun or the ease of her being able to purchase a hand gun. I fault the 'professionals' and the system that treated her for so many years - unsuccessfully.

One thing I would like to know... have you run across any data that states most suicides happen in/around May? Or that there is a higher rate of suicides amongst people born in winter months? I read that years ago and always wondered if there was any truth to it.

I appreciate the post.

mjlayman said...

Grace, the day most suicides happen on is New Year's Day. Apparently the letdown to real life from partying the night before is too much for some folks. There's more suicide in the winter months, usually due to depression.

(I tried to kill myself twice right after my stroke -- I couldn't imagine how I could live like this, and now it's 21 years later. The first time a doctor came in and caught me, the second time the implement didn't work. I still have depression because the stroke killed a lot of my brain cells and I don't get enough serotonin by myself, but I take SSRIs and when one doesn't work, we try another.)