Suicide on the Rise, Why?

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report today showing a 30% increase in U.S. suicide rates since 1999. The deaths this week of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain put an exclamation point on the issue. What exactly is going on?

The CDC made a point to distinguish the many reasons for suicide. Although suicide is typically understood to be associated with a known mental illness, many happen without warning – 54%. The report found that these people had other issues including relationship problems, health problems, financial problems, or some other crisis that precipitated the event.

I’m not convinced you can completely separate the two. A crisis in someone’s life can be a trigger for depression, which is a mental illness; but, I think the point is that 54% of the time a suicide happens without any warning. Which brings me to the next point: guns. According to the report, guns were the most common method for suicide, used by almost half of the people who died. Suicide tends to be a rash decision, a brief moment of utter despair that will pass given enough time. Not having immediate access to a lethal weapon can give a desperate person time to call someone. We must find common ground between the Second Amendment and the health and safety of our loved ones.

My mother’s suicide was the type resulting from a known mental illness for which she was seeking treatment, major depression. She is proof that knowing about the illness and getting every treatment available doesn’t guarantee survival. The typical treatment for depression is SSRI therapy (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc.), which has shown to be ineffective for many. SSRI’s have been available for 30+ years now. Perhaps this report highlights the ineffectiveness of the SSRI revolution?

I’ve blogged about the recent trials being done using psilocybin “magic” mushrooms, LSD, and other psychedelic drugs for the treatment of depression and other mental illnesses that are showing great results. The back to back (to back) news this week highlights that FDA approval of these drugs can’t come soon enough.

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