Thursday, September 28, 2023

Life worth living?

According to new government data, it seems that some 49,500 people took their own lives last year in the U.S., the highest number ever recorded.  The suicide rate has become more common now than any time in the past 75 years!  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the concerning numbers so we presume that there is some level of accuracy in the report. The largest increases were seen in older adults. Deaths rose nearly 7% in people ages 45 to 64, and more than 8% in people 65 and older, white men in particular.  Suicides in adults ages 25 to 44 grew about 1%. The new data indicates that suicide became the second leading cause of death in that age group in 2022, up from No. 4 in 2021.  Suicide rates increased 37 percent between 2000 and 2018, decreased 5 percent between 2018 and 2020, but returned to the peak rate in 2021.

While the causes for this increase are probably complex and variable depending upon the age and race and economic status of the one choosing suicide, there is certainly one obvious reason.  It has become normal.  Where once suicides were not spoken of except to marvel at why someone would choose to take his or her own life, today it has become almost routine for people to choose suicide over a life of pain or sorrow or even simple boredom.  Who is so cruel to believe that life is a gift even when that life is filled with suffering or want?  The more we normalize suicide and the more we offer the potential of a life-ending choice that comes also with a lack of pain or trauma to the actual act itself, the more people will choose to end their lives when they believe those lives are no longer worth living.

Add to that the sense of helplessness that accompanies the lives of many who face chronic pain or limitations due to disease or frailty and it is easy enough to get the picture.  So who feels bound to continue a life they have deemed not worth living? The more that we promote the idea that there is no shame or cost to the choice of surrendering your life, the more those who find their current lives less than optimum will consider suicide.  The problem here is not simply putting away the guns but addressing the pain and despair that make suicide look like an attractive choice.

There is no more uniquely suited group to offer hope and help to the despairing and those in chronic pain than the orthodox Christians and their churches.  It is not a matter of what can we do but what will we do.  The Gospel is strong enough to offer rest and respite to the wounded in spirit and those who suffer pain in mind or body but as that Gospel is increasingly surrendered to the woke new ideas that are concerned with less than the eternal tomorrow, the harder it will be to slow or stop the rate of suicide in our land.

Overall, more than one in five high school students surveyed had seriously considered suicide within the past year, up from 16% in 2011. Some eighteen percent said that they had a plan.  This was true for nearly every demographic group across America.  Clearly suicide is claiming younger victims and it has become one of the leading causes of death for those across the age spectrum.  Added to these statistics is a report on overdose deaths, with nearly 110,000 Americans dead in 2022.  The bleak outlook on the state of affairs across America and throughout the world have combined to bring us to the point of despair -- where we often become willing partners in the pursuit of a quick, easy, and painless way to go -- running perhaps less to death than from life.  Not only that but the more that we redefine yesterday's sins as today's edgy behaviors, the more the rate will continue to be sought out for those who have lost the idea that life is precious and given by God as a gift. 

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