Let's talk about suicide
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Certain topics are taboo in families, communities and societies. Don't talk about them. Avoid them. They're uncomfortable, unsettling and simply awkward.
Politics and religion may head the list in some places. Add subjects such as racism and AIDS to other settings.
And then there is suicide, the intentional taking of one's own life. It's on The List for many. Stop reading here. There's probably another story on this page of more interest.
The nightly news anchors report homicides to the point that some viewers become immune to such tragedies. Less often heard are the suicides, completed at places ranging from famous bridges to desolate wilderness to the privacy of one's bedroom.
After all, one can surmise that homicides occur much more frequently than the isolated act of suicide in the United States. No wonder the media discuss murders more often.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the act of suicide took more than 34,000 American lives in 2007. In comparison, more than 18,000 homicides were committed that year.
More than 34,000 individuals. Roughly the population of Mt. Lebanon. Imagine the collective intelligence, wisdom, talent and creativity lost. Consider the unimaginable grief shared by thousands, perhaps millions, more family members, friends and coworkers.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, someone dies by suicide in our country every 15 minutes. These vital, valued "someones" amount to nearly 100 Americans on average each day. The loss may be in our neighborhood, at our child's high school, at our workplace.
Data from the American Academy of Suicidology indicate that more than 1,500 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to suicide in 2008. Perhaps you knew one of them. Maybe you were touched in some way by one of them. It is estimated that a suicide affects at least a half-dozen other people, though one could wonder if the number is often higher.
Yet this devastating problem extends further. For every life lost, as many as 25 individuals attempt suicide. Imagine this: In the moments taken to read this article, two Americans could well have attempted to take their lives.
The 13th annual International Survivors of Suicide Day is coming up on Saturday. The Pittsburgh chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will host a ceremony that day in room S120 of the Biomedical Science Tower of the University of Pittsburgh at 10 a.m.
Suicide. It is a sensitive topic to be sure, yet it too often is on The Taboo List of things to discuss.
Let's remove it. Let's talk.
First Published November 17, 2011 12:00 am