Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
Suicide has become a very popular option of late, among farmers in India and suburbanites in the Amurrican Sunbelt, and it’s not hard to see why. When I contemplate my own expectations from Social Security, Miss Parker’s list of modalities tends to scroll down my mental movie-screen. But I long ago concluded, with her, that one might as well live — driven, in my case, by a novel-reader’s or movie-goer’s stubborn need to know what happens next, even if the book is by Dan Brown or the film by Stephen Spielberg. Hell, even if the film is Sophie’s Choice. I almost never walk out, no matter how bad it is.
A kind friend recently sent along this item:
Gun suicides now outpace traffic fatalities in Colorado
Experts say suicide must be framed as public health issue
Gun deaths have outpaced motor vehicle fatalities in Colorado since 2009, but data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicate the state has passed yet another milestone in death statistics.
For the first time in 2012, suicides by firearm alone surpassed motor vehicle fatalities, with 457 Coloradans dying in fatal car crashes and 532 taking their own lives using guns.
Gun suicides experienced their biggest increase in the past 12 years between 2011 and 2012, jumping up nearly 20 percent. Experts say many of these deaths are preventable, but that prevention requires framing suicide as a public health issue….
… Gun suicides didn’t take the biggest chunk of the increase. Fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wounds increased by nearly 29 percent while suicides by other means increased by nearly 64 percent.
Of course the phrase ‘experts say’ in itself is an incitement to suicide — I want to hang myself every time I hear it. But leaving that aside, there is much to puzzle over in this story.
The reporter acknowledges, for example, that gun suicides have increased less rapidly than those consummated by poison, rivers, gas, nooses and the rest of Miss Parker’s morbid list. Yet the story is framed as one about guns. Why?
Then of course there’s the comparison with road deaths. It seems to be okay for people to die on the road — though how many of those deaths are suicides too? A lot, I bet. But it’s not okay to check out under your own volition, simply because the deal on offer from our advanced civilization seems less appealing than the endless velvety dark. That’s cheating. Why do you get to go home earlier than everybody else?
No; it’s a ‘public health issue’, crying out for a technical solution; as if suicide were something like cholera, a problem that might be addressed by better drains.
Actually, I suspect suicide is in fact such a problem. If nobody ever had to worry about living in a cardboard carton above a heating grate, for example, I daresay fewer people would blow their brains out, or hang themselves, or jump in front of a subway. On the other hand, as technical solutions go, this one is perhaps a bit more far-reaching than anybody wants to contemplate. Why, it’s… it’s Communism!