If you’ve read recent reports that state “US suicide rates surge to a 30 year high,” you might first justify the reality with the fact that things feel very wrong in our world today. On a personal, national, and planetary level, people are suffering to survive and the distress is coming from all sides – medical to economic to existential.
But you probably also wonder why more people are choosing this permanent and self-destructive path, and feel compelled to submit to seemingly logical appeals to provide these individuals more help and greater access to treatment.
Surprise: that may be the last thing our population of hopeless and helpless needs. Life’s inevitable challenges are not the problem. It’s the drugs we use that are fueling suicide.
While in college at MIT, I studied neuroscience, and I worked an overnight volunteer suicide hotline. Suicide and untimely deaths from substance abuse abound at MIT. I went to medical school at Cornell, and completed my residency and fellowship at Bellevue/NYU because I believed that psychiatrists had cracked the code of human suffering, and I wanted to do my part to alleviate pain.
I believed that people who were struggling had a chemical imbalance and that we needed to do our best to help them access the pharmaceutical support they would need, for the rest of their lives.