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What’s the Big Deal about Suicide?

StaxRip

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Did you know that if your death certificate lists suicide as the cause of death the Social Security Administration withholds survivor benefits from your family?

I can’t figure out why. I mean, why withhold survivor benefits from the family? Moreover, why does the government care about suicides?

One’s initial response might be something along the lines of care for the suffering or societal well-being, but you really only have to think about it for a few minutes to easily conclude that we don’t give a shit about either the suffering or societal well-being.

More than 10,000 people a year die while waiting to be approved for disability benefits.

At least 45,000 people die each year because they lack health insurance.

There are hundreds of homeless people who die on our streets every year. Cities like Denver (233), Los Angeles (918), New York City (290), and San Francisco (135) are on the record calling homeless deaths a national crisis.

Upwards of 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

There’s almost certainly overlap in these figures, there are certainly homeless people hoping their disability comes through, and the vast majority of these folks lack health coverage but suffice to say tens of thousands of people are dying every year as a direct result of our fiscal policies in regard to the poor and underprivileged, that much is evident. I believe this fact fully illustrates how little we actually care about people dying. So, is suicide specifically a problem, and if so, why. What difference does it make?

So, what’s up with suicide then? Why act as if we care about suicide? Why punish the bereaved with additional financial hardship? This simply doesn’t make any sense to me.

Belgium, by the way, is considered the most liberal in regard to allowing physician-assisted suicide. The Belgium government has extended the “right to die” to a 24-year-old woman suffering from depression and a 47-year-old woman who had incurable tinnitus.

In the United States, the Right to Die issue is entirely framed in a terminal illness context, and while you’re perfectly free to buy enough cigarettes and alcohol to accelerate yourself into a terminal state, you cannot simply decide you want off the ride, regardless of your rationale or mental capacity.

I follow Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign pretty closely and he speaks frequently about the “deaths of despair” epidemic in the U.S., and how it’s actually having an impact on our overall life expectancy. The statistics for this phenomenon are very interesting to me, the “lack of steady, well-paying jobs for whites without college degrees has caused pain, distress and social dysfunction to build up over time. The mortality rate for that group, ages 45 to 54, increased by a half percent each year from 1999 to 2013.

I’m dead center of this demographic and I live it, every day, and I feel like I’m declining, every day. I know it, I see it, I feel it, I understand it, and I am completely defenseless against it. It’s not a lack of love of support, I have both. I have a wonderful son, about to turn five, who is literally everything to me. I have no future. I have no value. I have nothing left to give. Everything is gone. My survivor benefits would clearly provide my family with more financial stability moving forward than I’m physically going to be able to. I fear I’m only going to drag us all under a bridge. It haunts me.

The conditions that have spawned this crisis are by and large economic. I know that much from my personal experience. Extreme hopelessness isn’t random, you don’t catch it like a cold, It’s thrust upon you, often extraneously. I had a bitch of a 2018, and I’m all but certain a full recovery is impossible. As for our government. we have the data to understand what's happening, and we have the means to solve the conditions that are creating the crisis. What’s lacking is political will, and what’s handcuffing our political will is our inability or unwillingness to care about one another.