Over the holidays this years I watched as my news feed filled with “not-so great” news stories and updates of suicide upon suicide…upon suicide. Then someone I hadn’t seen in a while but who I think is a great person, attempted suicide unsuccessfully.
It floored me.
An astute friend of mine commented,”What’s with all the suicides?” and we noted that perhaps it was the holidays and our age. We are at the end of our thirties. Midlife crises are coming our way from now until age fifty.
Notably, a lot of these suicides were men.
This follows what research has shown time and time again: Current studies say men commit suicide 4 times more often than women, even though we tend to classify ourselves as depressed more often than our XY counterparts.
Then, as a woman who is almost divorced, (I heard news we have 1 more paper to hand in and then we get our uncontested divorce date and it’s bam, done!) I wondered how often divorce plays a factor in suicide, and everything I have read has said that divorce increases suicide rates for parents (especially men, and children).
As we reach the end of our thirties, many of my friends, associates and acquaintances, are hitting many different milestones of life that can cause happiness or depression:
- Births of children & family growth (or lack thereof)
- Stable marriages or divorces
- Buying & renovating homes (or losing them)
- Career growths and raises (or starting new careers or losing a job
So what was it that was causing this string of suicides exactly, and is there any real answer?
I didn’t know the deceased parties so I certainly can’t attest to know the true reasons and truly is there ever just one reason for such an event? I don’t think so, but some things come to mind:
1- Mental Health
You can only suffer so long and as you hit a certain point in your life in which you feel you’re supposed to be successful and perhaps you’re not, the burden of coping with the monkey of mental health on your back can be enough to pull the rigger.
At our age 30’s and up, we all thought we would be happily married and/or coupled even if we were anti-marriage. None of the individuals in this group were happily married.
It can be very difficult to start over after you’ve been married, or feel at a certain point, “How come I haven’t found anyone yet?”
It was sucky to dance alone at the sixth grade dance I am sure, but to dance alone at almost thirty, forty and beyond can suck even if you’re a strong single person.
At a certain point if you aren’t established or are trying a new career, it’s not unusual to feel like a failure, even though you’re not.
4. Substance Use
5. Eating Disorders
A beast that is so hard to slay, but not impossible.
6. Fertility & Family Issues
Building a family as you get older gets harder. This can be devastating to a couple and an individual. Consider other family and marital issues as well.
- making time for each other when you have kids
- in-law strife
- money matters
I don’t know exactly why a whole string of people decided that they needed to have their last day on earth, but it was sobering.
Have my friends and I really hit that point of life in which everything is supposed to be ok and wonderful?
Is it that devastating to realize that as women “we can’t have it all” and as men, “perhaps we are never man enough?”
Did the pictures of married and adult life seem so pretty until suddenly, we were in them and couldn’t understand why “our picture” wasn’t as lovely as we thought it would be?
Is life really getting that much worse in today’s day and age?
Not once did I judge the people who decided that life was too much. Instead, my heart went out to them.
I suppose many of us sometimes feel as if life is too hard to handle and that it wasn’t what we signed up for.
That’s for sure.
I remember my mother telling me when I said life isn’t fair that “Life isn’t a fair Laura. It’s not all merry-go-rounds and carnival ice cream.”
She was right.
Maybe that’s what this suicide crisis is about: people want off the carousel because it’s become too much to bear and not exactly what they were hoping for when they paid the ticket.
I know I try to remind myself that everyone has his or her own unique lessons in life to learn. Some of my friends are leaving marriages. Some are having kids. Some are entering the work force again. Some are changing jobs.
We are all learning lessons and experiencing our lives in our unique fashion.
It can be hard though when what we thought we would have is not what we have.
I never imagined myself as a married mom and then, I got married and then, I became a mom. (Thank god I did become one!!)
But I most certainly didn’t picture myself as a single mom. If you had told me this would be my fate when I was fifteen, I would have told you you were crazy. And maybe this is the disconnect for so many of us.
We have lives we never imagined we would have and in some ways, it is heartbreaking and in others, it is truly wonderful and magical.
Lost in thought,