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Understanding Mortality Rates in Youth: The War With Depression and Modern Culture

Recent reports of causes of death have indicated that suicide has overtaken traffic accidents as the number one leading cause of death in the United States. Data suggests an almost 15% rise in suicide rates in the time period between 2000-2009, and drug poisoning statistics rose by over 128%. In fact, most of the poisoning statistics are from prescription opioid painkillers.

Statistically speaking, a person commits suicide every fifteen minutes—and that’s in the United States alone. Furthermore, 8-25 people made suicide attempts in the same period of time.

Why, with such dramatic increases in overall health care, psychiatric counseling, and mood stabilizing drugs, are we seeing such high teen mortality rates?

Crumbling Economy and Helplessness

Is it possible that despair for the future and hopelessness about well-being might be to blame? Recently in the United States, people have become poorer at an astronomical rate, as even the high-middle class struggles to keep their head above water. In these times, people resort to suicide as a way out. Americans in rural areas are some of the poorest overall in the world; these high poverty rates are often believed to be associated with a particular suicide.

During the Great Depression, as many as 22 out of every 1,000 individuals resorted to suicide as a way out of their destitute lifestyle. 

Modern Culture

With more emphasis on the younger generation to live vicariously, engage in risky behaviors, and be more open to drug and party culture, we have seen a huge rise in recreational drug use—especially household pharmaceuticals. Pop culture has many references to abusing prescription drugs—notably Oxycontin and Promethazine/Codeine cough medicines, as well as Xanax and other mood stabilizers like Klonopin.

Depression and Mood Disorders Combined With Substance Abuse

Often, crushing depression and addictions to substances causes accidental overdose. It’s easy to forget how deep and serious conditions like depression really are—and the effects that they have on people’s perceptions. Crushing hopelessness and despair, coupled with persistent irritability and boredom lead people to make bad choices, like overdosing on medicine, hoping for relief.

Realistically, the reasons that people commit suicide aren’t always immediately clear. Sometimes, bad relationships or deaths in the family can push people to hurt themselves. Other times, there were no previous indicators, and the idea of suicide by a particular individual is completely baffling. While it’s difficult to understand, the most important thing is to be supportive to depressed individuals and to report dangerously suicidal behaviors to family and specialists before suicide attempts turn into higher mortality rates.

The Patterns of Success

It was noted that there is a pattern with young adults and teens who are active in service projects, academics, and family oriented activities. The research indicates that these tendencies cause young adults to be virtually impervious to these statistics. Primarily because those involved in the above activities are typically not drug users. Also, it could be said that when young adults and teens involve themselves in activities that enable them to focus on others, their personal problems seem to shrink. This may be sound advice for adults as well.

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