Here is a little known factoid, at least I think it is little known, since I was not aware of it until just this week nor had I heard anyone speak of it before…Did you know that in the United States more than twice as many people commit suicide than are murdered by someone else? That is, we kill ourselves more than we kill each other…
In fact, world wide, suicide takes more lives than murder and war put together! And those statistics come from the World Health Organization. The WHO reports that the death toll from suicide – at almost one million people per year – accounts for half of all violent deaths worldwide. And the toll is rising with 1.5 million yearly fatalities from suicide predicted by the year 2020.
And yet the newspapers and telecasts are filled each and every day with stories of murder, terror and war, cancer, disease and traffic accidents and yet an estimated 10 to 20 million people attempt suicide each year! And they are almost never mentioned, reported nor talked about publicly.
Even the Pentagon has recently released statistics revealing that while war (as everyone would expect) was the leading cause of death in the military nearly every year between 2004 and 2011, suicides became the top means of dying for our troops in 2012 and 2013! Our soldiers are now killing themselves more than our enemies do!
The WHO reports that the highest suicide rates are in Eastern Europe, and the lowest in Latin America, Muslim countries and some Asian nations. Suicide rates also tend to increase with age but for some reason and worldwide, there has been a recent increase in suicidal behaviors among young people aged 15 to 25. Men are more successful at committing suicide than are women… except in rural China and parts of India.
And The most common methods for committing suicide? Swallowing pesticides, using firearms and overdosing on painkillers. But did you know any of this? I did not and for whatever reasons just about everyone avoids the subject, suicides are hardly ever reported, and not many seem to think that it is a problem worth discussing or trying to solve.
And yet we stock pile guns to keep ourselves safe, worry about who’s walking through our neighborhoods, demand an ever larger military to protect us from the world and stand on lines for hours to make sure our planes and trains have not been infiltrated by madmen (and women) who actually kill very few of us.
And despite all of our fears of “them” and “those people” and that disease and the next natural disaster…what we should really be most afraid and cautious of is… what we might do to ourselves… For in truth, The statistics show us in overwhelming numbers that here in the 21st century, the greatest danger to my health…is most likely going to be…me!