Musings, Silence

The Suicide Epidemic (Contagion)

I love my husband very much (with the title above, I am most certain this isn’t the opening line you were expecting). But as I was saying, I love my husband very much and yet we don’t share an interest in the same type of reading materials most of the time. I tend to get away from being sucked into reading anything he’s picked up or even school assignments or papers he has to write because the material serves as a snooze button for me. But to be fair, its not that they are boring, its that I don’t have an interest in them. Although, I try my best to to help him out and also develop somewhat of an interest in the titles he is interested in and skim/read through a few of them. This was the case when I stumbled on something very interesting and quite serious that inspired this post.

I was helping my husband read through ‘The Tipping Point by Malcolm Caldwell’ (I love Malcolm Caldwell books by the way even though I haven’t read a lot) and I didn’t even know it was his book when I agreed to help (#goodwife). We split the book into chapters and I got chapters 7 & 8 which I grumbled at (because I felt I wouldn’t know what the book was about starting at the end) but I still went ahead and read them.

I have heard of suicides on international TV but nothing local here in Nigeria that I recall (not saying there aren’t any, just don’t recall any or on national news either). I have seen / heard on global/international news children , celebrities, the elderly, parents (adults) committing suicide and even though I felt sad and mourned the loss, I never understood it.

However, reading ‘The Tipping Point by Malcolm Caldwell’ opened up a new angle of suicides and the epidemic surrounding them especially in recent times. In the society I grew up in and religiously, they are frowned upon. I believe that even when a member of the community does commit suicide, it would probably be reported differently. Maybe an Illness, homicide, ”his or her village people attacked” or God is blamed for it. Rarely is mental illness  mentioned as opposed to the western culture I’ve observed online when its almost always a case of mental health when the cause /reason of death is suicide.

In this book, the suicide epidemic / contagion in the Island of Micronesia is brought up and used as a case study along with the death of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and the rate of traffic accidents in relation to a highly publicized suicide. The research of ”David P Phillips” was used to explain this phenomenon of escalated suicide and traffic accidents right after a highly publicized suicide on TV or the newspapers. Below are snippets of his research not the whole thing because it isn’t my intellectual property, I will only post snippets and you can read the whole thing online.

This paper shows that suicides increase immediately after a suicide story has been publicized in the newspapers in Britain and in the United States,1947-1948. The more publicity devoted to a suicide story, the larger the rise in suicides there after.The rise in suicides after a story is restricted mainly to the area in which the story was publicized.Alternative explanations of these findings are examined; the evidence indicates that the rise in suicides is due to the influence of suggestion on suicide, an influence not previously demonstrated on the national level of suicides. The substantive, theoretical, and methodological implications of these findings are examined.

There was a reference to Marilyn Monroe’s death and its effect on the national suicide rate and how it rose to about 12 percent temporarily after the announcement of her death.

On the Micronesian suicide epidemic, read this article

HONOLULU, March 5— In the islands of Micronesia, young men are killing themselves at one of the highest rates in the world, researchers say, and no one knows what to do about it.

Suicides among males between the ages of 15 and 30 are so prevalent that they have become an accepted method of problem-solving in the island societies where harmony is highly prized, according to the Rev. Francis Hezel and Dr. Don Rubinstein.

”For several years suicide has been the No. 1 cause of death for youths in Truk,” said Father Hezel, a Jesuit who has served for nearly 18 years as director of Xavier High School in the Truk Islands, where the suicide rates are highest.

Father Hezel was the first person to notice the trend, in 1977, and he wrote a magazine article on the problem. Since then, he and Dr. Rubinstein, a researcher at Honolulu’s federally financed East-West Center, have collected many facts on the problem. But they do not yet have solutions, said Father Hezel, who is doing research in Honolulu as part of a year’s leave of absence.

Twice as High as in U.S.

…………………………………………….. read more on http://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/06/us/micronesia-s-male-suicide-rate-defies-solution.html

Finally, the purpose of this post is to share what I have learned, draw your attention to a different way of looking at suicides, what might be causing them and what are your thoughts on this issue and our communities.

I wasn’t going to write on this issue before because there is so much i don’t yet know or understand, but after hearing about the community in Ohio, I thought now would be the time to have a conversation about it, it might help someone.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below

  • should suicides not be publicized anymore?
  • what are the best ways to announce suicides publicly i.e news and news papers?
  • can this epidemic/contagion be controlled or eradicated?
  • why do you think people do it?
  • why do teenagers especially with the example of males in Micronesia more prone to commit suicides?

And if you know someone going through something be sure to contact professional help.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The Suicide Epidemic (Contagion)”

  1. I think the “copy-cat” rule applies to suicides as it does to events such as school shootings. The media pays a great deal of attention and time to such events which then unfortunately inspires another human to do the same. And they do. Now, having said that, I think many suicides occur due to very private and secret horrors a person is enduring. Depression is a major cause of suicide and it is only recently that the modern world has recognized depression as a treatable illness.

    Many people here in the United States cling to old ridiculous notions. Parents of children who take their own lives, often face censure from their own friends and neighbors, i.e. they must not have been good parents. or their children were weird, or they are strange after all and should be avoided. Of course none of these ideas are based on any truth whatsoever.

    Very interesting post, Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this contribution Paul, as I stated in my post, due to a very vast difference in culture suicides and even depression are not talked about or even publicized. People treat such things as the latter example you gave and the person’s loved ones who are left behind end up being stigmatized by society or avoided like they have the plague. I do hope a lot of people can reach out and get the help they need and require in order to prevent some of these happenings, especially among teenagers.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s