Posted in musings

family breakdown, social isolation, and increasing suicide rates

This article on the national suicide rate, and its steep increase over the past 15 years, was quite interesting, if perhaps a bit morbid and depressing…

I strongly agree with one of the sources quoted in the article that this increase in the suicide rate is at least partially due to the social isolation caused by the breakdown of the family. Our cultureĀ is undermining the most intimate and permanent connections we have as people, and we are naturally suffering the side effects of loneliness and discouragement. We have chosen short-term self-fulfillment over mutual commitment and sacrifice, and while the victims of another person’s selfishness obviously pay the highest price, even those who appear successful in their quest for personal happiness may be eaten away inside by insecurity and pain if they have spent their life burning bridges and breaking connections.

And it is not surprising to me at all that the age group that has seen the highest rate of increase is middle-aged men and women, from 45-64 years old. These are the members of my parents’ generation, one of the first to grow up with rampant acceptable divorce, now reaching what should be some of the fullest and richest years of life, with children and grandchildren adding to their joy, and finding that the choices that seemed so independent, romantic, modern, and free have left them empty, alone, and unvalued as the final years of life approach. Having chosen pleasure or esteem or career success over family and unconditional love, they are discovering an ache in their hearts for the sustained and quiet love they have so long neglected. I expect that as each new cohort enters this age group, the suicide rate for it will continue to increase, at least for the next two or three, as the bitterness and dysfunction we have bred in our society bears the fruit of isolation and hopelessness; I hope that as my generation and my children’s generation witnesses the destruction of these social choices, we will be given the strength, courage, and grace to overcome them, and reduce this cultural burden of despair and death.

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