Each year 45,000 Americans take their lives. That averages to 123 people a day. And each suicide affects everyone with whom the person has regular encounters. So why is it so common? Here are six reasons people choose to end their life.
Many of us have been trained to act on a whim. We quickly reply to a text, pop some food in the microwave, flick the controller while playing a video game…and these quick, instinctive acts are becoming a part of our daily behavior. So when one has a fleeting thought of suicide, they may be less likely to slow down and think it through.
When tragedy strikes, whether it be an accident, break up, job loss, missed opportunity, some can’t see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Many think and navigate through life one step at a time, which may be productive when it comes to tackling tasks, but if they feel the obstacle in front of them is insurmountable they may believe their options are far and few between, with death being the only out.
This is one of the least discussed reasons people commit suicide, but unfortunately more common than we think. Although most of us fear death and dying, some pathologically can’t handle the thought of it happening out of the blue. Those who need control and need to plan ahead, may find solace in the fact that they are planning their own death. They can’t control their birth but they can control their death, they believe, and for those who feel they have lost control of their life may find this tragic option welcoming.
Hollywood stereotypes depression as a woman sitting on a couch eating ice cream to combat the tears and loneliness of a breakup. But many have symptoms of severe depression and don’t know it.
So many self medicate either by overeating, drinking alcohol, smoking weed, or taking pills, which when wears off, can sink one into a lower funk. Without psychological or medical intervention, one struggles to recover.
Since so many people are undiagnosed when it comes to depression, family members and friends are unaware their loved one is struggling. Going about one’s business may be inferred as indifference by someone suffering from a mood disorder. “They won’t even notice I’m gone,” pervades their thoughts and worsens their loneliness.
If one feels they’ve been ignored, unheard or wronged, this could incite an “I’ll show ’em” attitude in which their suicide is plotted to be a form of psychological revenge.
Sadly many out there secretly hope they get help but don’t know how to ask for it. It’s up to us to seek them out and guide them to a medical professional who can listen, understand, and work with them.
There is new hope that states with adult-use and medical marijuana laws on the books and states considering legalization or decriminalization will finally be able to stop worrying about the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) commandeering their police officers and sheriff’s deputies to enforce federal marijuana prohibition. A bipartisan group of United States’ Senators and Representatives introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act on Thursday. It’s intent is to allow states to determine what marijuana laws are right for them.
Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced the bill in the Senate. Republican David Joyce of Ohio and Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon are co-sponsors of the bill they introduced in the House of Representatives. Upon introduction of the bill, its creators emphasized that their legislation would not make marijuana legal throughout the country – as if the name of the bill and its acronym weren’t revealing enough.
The bill’s bipartisan group of writers wants everyone to know the STATES Act is a states’ rights bill and not a legalize marijuana bill for obvious reasons – the biggest being that legislation ending federal marijuana prohibition would never pass Congress let alone get the support of Donald Trump, who said he’ll “probably” back the bill. But any legislation even misrepresented as a marijuana legalization bill would do lasting damage to the cannabis movement that has seen economies, government budgets, infrastructure and education improve while crime, opioid overdoses, suicides and healthcare costs decrease in states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws.
With the STATES Act, it will be nigh impossible for Conservatives to justify their opposition of the bill by calling it an endorsement of drug use. Politicians representing states that border states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws could claim the bill would only stretch their law enforcement and judicial budgets even thinner, but they couldn’t misrepresent the legislation to their constituents as an attempt to legalize marijuana. They could even request additional federal funding to address the increased law enforcement and judicial workload they anticipate, but they couldn’t vote “no” with the excuse of “I’m not about to legalize marijuana.” I mean, they could say that in their defense, but not without subjecting themselves to ridicule.
Another reason the bipartisan crafters of the STATES Act are making cannabis a states’ rights issue is because it appeals to a majority of the public. A Gallup poll conducted in June 2016 found that 55 percent of Americans prefer government power to be concentrated at the state level instead of the federal level, and Republicans are are four times as likely to support state power.
Giving more power to the states appeals to Republicans, Libertarians and even some Democrats. Hell, I’m a Socialist, and I support small government because I know Socialism, like all forms of governing, works most effectively and efficiently in people’s behalf when the number of people it governs is small and when that population is concentrated in a governable geographic area. Why? The answer was provided by the late Alan Thicke back in 1978: “Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some.”
Those are, of course, the opening lyrics to the “Diff’rent Strokes” theme song, and a more true statement could not be uttered let alone sung. The United States is a vast country that spans the spectrum of both geography and demography, which makes it difficult to govern. Americans experience such differing circumstances that what might be right for you, may not be right for some. Hell, in my home state of Montana you can drive eight hours and never leave the state, but the geography and the people change immensely. What works in the West probably won’t work in the East and vice versa. Marijuana legalization might be right for Californians, but it may not be right for Nebraskans. The STATES Act would allow states to choose what cannabis laws work best for their residents.
This isn’t the first time a bipartisan bill has been introduced to strengthen states’ rights to adopt and enforce marijuana laws as they see fit. I was on Capitol Hill as a student lobbyist for Students for Sensible Drug Policy five years ago when H.R. 1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013, was before the 113th Congress. It too sought to allow states to decide the legality of adult-use and medical marijuana by altering the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.
We felt way back then that this would be our path to ending federal marijuana prohibition, and while we weren’t going to get federal legalization, it was a compromise we were willing to make to appeal to Conservatives and get the legislation passed. I left the reception held after our lobby day filled with hope after hearing Democratic Congressman from Colorado Jared Polis and famed Conservative Grover Norquist agreeing that cannabis was an issue for states to decide by and for their respective residents.
According to Congress.gov, that bill is still before Congress, lost and forgotten by the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations since April 30, 2013. It has 28 cosponsors in the House, six of which are Republicans. The House version of the STATES Act already has 14 cosponsors in the House plus the two Representatives who assisted in drafting the bill. Eight are Republicans, so the new bipartisan bill is already appealing to more Conservatives than H.R. 1523.
This bipartisan group has high hopes for the STATES Act given what’s occurred since H.R. 1523 was introduced. The STATES Act does what H.R. 1523 would have. It amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state and tribal marijuana laws. But it doesn’t eliminate all federal oversight. Distribution of cannabis at transportation facilities and rest stops would remain federally illegal and enforced. The STATES Act does a lot more than allow states to determine their own marijuana laws, though. It also addresses some of the issues that have resulted from states legalizing adult-use or medical marijuana, which should appeal to both sides of the aisle.
Back in 2011, I wrote that cannabis would be America’s best cash crop ever – even bigger than tobacco. Marijuana consumption has already far surpassed my expectations upon its legalization for adult- and medical-use, but industrial hemp is what’s going to make cannabis America’s best cash crop ever. It grows like a weed if you’ll forgive the pun, and can be used for virtually anything. It’s a stronger fiber than cotton and can be used to make textiles that last longer so our clothes don’t fall apart in the wash. It will make stronger rope, hopefully saving mountain and rock climbers’ lives, and cowboys, cowgirls and sailors headaches. Hemp seeds are also rich in fatty acids, protein, fiber and other important nutrients. Hemp can even be used as fuel, which ExxonMobil will no doubt exploit given its investment into biofuels. All that algae research ended up being nothing more than a good PR campaign because hemp is a much less intensive biofuel to produce than algae. You can even build a house out of something called hempcrete, and cannabis can also relieve your pain without getting you high. That’s right, cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been proven to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects of THC. So cannabis can clothe you, feed you, shelter you, transport you and your things, relieve your pain, and even save your life while creating jobs and improving our environment by oxygenating the air. Along with solar and wind energy industries, industrial hemp will be one of the biggest contributors to the health of America’s economy and environment for years to come.
The STATES Act would make cannabis transactions legal, allowing cannabis providers to take methods of payment besides cash and store that money in a bank. Cannabis providers have had a justifiable fear of depositing their profits in federal banks subject to federal law. The federal government could seize those assets like they seize vehicles used to traffic drugs. No criminal charges need to be brought against the cannabis providers for them to lose their money either, as asset forfeiture is a civil action, not criminal.
Since its legalization in Colorado, many cannabis providers have hired motorcycle couriers to pickup and deliver literal saddlebags of money to be deposited in a safe somewhere. One California dispensary owner reportedly delivers $40,000 in cash in the trunk of his car every month simply to pay his taxes. The STATES Act would make those trips a thing of the past and likely result in fewer instances of theft.
So is 2018 finally the year federal marijuana prohibition ends? Some people think so, but ultra-Conservatives could get in the way, just as they did on a cannabis bill for veterans just last week. The STATES Act probably won’t have many supporters from the religious right, which will be its biggest obstacle to overcome. But now more than ever before, Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle are going to be more willing to consider the end of federal marijuana prohibition given what we’ve all learned from the experimentation spearheaded by states. Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia could all adopt medical marijuana laws this year, and if that doesn’t surprise you consider where we were five years ago, when Maryland relaxing criminal penalties for seriously ill people using marijuana was considered a win for cannabis advocates.
Your Senators and Representatives are not experts on cannabis and need you to inform them on the issue, so here’s a guide on how to do so most effectively. You’ll want to appeal to the humanity in them. Politicians are not cold robots. When they hear a story about someone using cannabis to treat their chronic back pain that otherwise would keep them bedridden, they can probably relate to that. They especially want to know if cannabis helped you kick your opioid addiction. They have friends and family struggling with the same problems with which the rest of us struggle, so speak or write from the heart. The facts will only bore them to the point they tune you out.
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Anthony Bourdain, the famous world traveler, chef and Parts Unknown host was found dead in his room at Le Chambard, a luxury hotel in eastern France. The cause of death was hanging and local prosecutor, Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel said there was, “no reason to suspect foul play.”
Another tragic loss to suicide. I did not know Mr. Bourdain personally, but like most folks, I knew all about his world travels from his really fantastic CNN show - Parts Unknown.
I certainly don’t know what haunted Mr. Bourdain enough to take his own life so I won’t speculate. He leaves behind him a daughter, family, friends and legions of fans. It’s odd to think, “But he seemed like he was so happy - on TV!” Right? We like to think that we know people because we see them on TV, or in films, or through social media. We don’t.
His death, it seems has shocked Mr. Bourdain’s friends and colleagues. Usually, there are warning signs of depression and / or other things before an apparent suicide attempt. It really sounds, from what I’ve read, that no one had any idea he was suffering from whatever it was that drove him to take his own life.
Mr. Bourdain’s long time girlfriend, the actress, activist Asia Argento released a quick statement saying he was, “my love, my rock, my protector … I am beyond devastated.” Condolences seem to be coming in from all over the world which shows the vast reach of lives Mr. Bourdain has touched.
While suicide, or even a high suicide rate is nothing new in densely populated cities. In the US, the suicide rate has dramatically risen, with some states having an increase of 30% over previous decades. Nevada was the only state to report a decline (of 1%) while North Dakota reported a staggering increase of 57%. The report finds all sorts of factors as the cause - mental health, public health, addiction, alcoholism, economic hardship - to name a few. Just last week the fashion industry lost Kate Space who was unknown to me but was something of an icon in her field. And today we’ve lost Anthony Bourdain. Sadly, we all know it won’t be long before we lose someone else.
And suicide makes people - angry at the victim. And I understand. Bourdain’s long time friend, actress Rose McGowan broke down crying in a now deleted clip where she flat out screams at him that she’s “So mad at you.” Suicide is selfish. And I would probably feel the same way if a close friend of mine committed suicide. But I find it hard to judge someone I don’t know. So all I feel about Mr. Bourdain’s suicide is a tinge of sadness at a life lost too soon. He was only 61 years old and he certainly had a lot more to offer the world. Or maybe he didn’t. We just don’t know the struggles people face.
And so I can only offer the exact thing that everyone else is offering. Words.
Anthony Bourdain - Rest in peace.
On this date 13 years ago, renowned writer and creator of “Gonzo” journalism, Hunter S. Thompson shot himself in the head because football season was over, he couldn’t walk or swim, he was always “bitchy” and had lived 17 more years than he needed or wanted to. His succinct suicide note was in keeping with Hunter’s writing style. He made dents, not first impressions.
The one thing Hunter could do in his old age was fire guns, and boy did he love his guns. Apparently not enough to continue living, though. He would probably have a lot to say about our constant debate on gun control in this country. Or maybe he’d have little to say, like “You can control my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
I know the man a little better than that, though. In fact, I think the only fact he accepted while alive was “the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism.” While I never met him, I spent roughly four years of my life researching his life and works, which culminated in a Master’s professional paper entitled “How Hunter S. Thompson Built Fox News and What We Can Do About It.”
Hunter was my hero going into that research, but my opinion of him changed dramatically as I began to realize how much he influenced journalism of today and made it more acceptable for journalists to insert themselves as the heroes of their stories, but more importantly, editorialize the news. Journalists are telling us how to feel about the news instead of simply reporting it, and Hunter’s success is a big reason for that.
Hunter’s blending of fact and fiction to convey deep meaning through news is a triumphant failure with unintended, lasting effects. Hunter’s most read work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was what Hunter called “a failed experiment in Gonzo journalism” because his intent was to send his publisher his notes as his final copy -- without editing. That’s what he saw as Gonzo journalism.
“True Gonzo reporting needs the talents of a master journalist, the eye of an artist/photographer and the heavy balls of an actor. Because the writer must be a participant in the scene, while he’s writing it—or at least taping it, or even sketching it. Or all three. Probably the closest analogy to the ideal would be a film director/producer who writes his own scripts, does his own camera work and somehow manages to film himself in action, as the protagonist or at least a main character.”
Now we have journalists live on the scene reacting to the news as it occurs thanks to mobile phones and the Internet -- and a lot of those journalists are really just actors. Hunter didn’t need to act. He was simply a character. The man was even more interesting than his greatest creation. He reportedly nearly drowned Bill Murray in his pool when they first met prior to Murray portraying Hunter on screen in Where the Buffalo Roam. The story goes that Hunter tied Murray to a chair and told him, “If you can get out of this, I can trust you,” and kicked the chair and actor into the pool. They became fast friends.
Hunter also left the heart of an elk on his neighbor’s doorstep as a birthday gift. In the morning, Jack Nicholson awoke to an entryway covered in blood.
By the time I finished writing my paper, Hunter was more a villain than a hero to me, and I set out to become a journalist and attempt to do the boring, objective journalism of my new hero, Edward R. Murrow, better than anyone ever had, citing vast amounts of reputable sources and changing minds with facts instead of feelings. My attempts lasted six years, and I still wrote a weekly column in the vein of Gonzo journalism, connecting sports and politics like Hunter did for ESPN’s “Page 2” -- some of my favorite work of Hunter’s. I still can’t escape that theme it seems. It’s become an addiction of mine.
I lived my life for a long time based on how I thought Hunter would. “What would Hunter do,” I often asked myself. “Indulge,” was most often the answer. I found myself asking the same question with regard to the gun control debate, but the answer is more complicated.
I don’t own a gun. I never have. I grew up firing guns, though. My grandfather on my mother’s side taught me to shoot a BB gun growing up, and he taught me well. I was one of the best shots in my hunter education class, and the first deer I shot I hit through the neck as it was running away from me. I have a pretty poor sense of distance, but I’d say the shot was between 50 and 100 yards. I haven’t hunted since that season. It’s just not for me. I didn’t feel like I was playing fair. I still enjoy a little target practice, though, which is why when I wrote about what I thought reasonable, sensible gun control looks like I didn’t include a ban on assault rifles.
I watched a man, teary-eyed, saw an assault rifle in half on social media yesterday because he never wants to worry about his gun taking a life, even in the hands of another gun owner. He reminded me that all these mass murderers were simply legal gun owners prior to becoming mass murderers, but I still don’t think banning assault rifles is necessary. Hunter wouldn’t either. That would surely get his blood boiling.
I’m sure Hunter would agree that the mentally ill shouldn’t be allowed to own guns, and while he would likely hate it, he would have a mental health evaluation conducted in order to own a gun if it was required. I’m sure he’d agree that every aspiring gun owner should have to pass a criminal background check, too. And I’m sure he’d agree that taxpayers should never have to pay the emergency room bill of an uninsured gun owner who shoots him- or herself. I’m sure he’d have no problem waiting 10 days or so to buy a gun, but he might take issue with my recommendation of raising the minimum age to own a gun to 21. He probably thinks the drinking age should be 18 again. I can see him saying, “If you're old enough to die for your country, you’re old enough to drink.” If that’s the only issue that brilliant gun nut takes with my attempt at adopting reasonable, sensible gun control policies, I’d say they should be agreeable to most every gun nut.
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Producer / Director Zack Snyder has dropped out of the production because of a family tragedy. Autumn Snyder, Zack’s daughter from his first marriage, committed suicide on March 20th. Initially, the family wanted to keep Autumn’s death private -- telling only close friends and relatives. The film was shut down for two weeks so the Snyder’s could attend to the aftermath of the sad event.
Everyone, including Mr. Snyder, thought the film would return to its original schedule after the bereavement period. Eventually, Zack had a change of heart:
“In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was the way through it. The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all-consuming. And in the last two months, I’ve come to the realization … I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”
Warner Bros. appears to be standing beside Zack and offered to push the release date back, allowing the family time to recover. But Zack Snyder and current wife Deborah Snyder (also a producer on the film) decided it would be best for the movie to be completed on schedule.
Enter Joss Whedon.
The Justice League film is actually in post production with all of principal photography complete. But Zack wanted to add additional scenes and so hired Joss Whedon to write and direct them.
This is will be something of a challenge. Joss Whedon has his own distinctive style of dialog and directing (he loves that 17 lens!) but the tone of the film has already been set by Zack Snyder and his production team. So Whedon has to come in and do his best to mimic Snyder’s exact tone and style.
Whedon fans might be extraordinarily excited to hear his name attached to the Justice League movie but, if Joss does his job well, he will be largely invisible in the final cut.
Autumn Snyder was a writer and a student. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and in 2014 founded the charity, Write-A-Thon To End Homelessness For Mothers and Their Children -- a nonprofit that shelters homeless pregnant women and their children. She was twenty years old.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255