While reports of death by suicide are all too frequent, we encourage media coverage that also helps spread the word about prevention. YSPP's Media Guidelines offer suggestions for responsible reporting on the issue.
Washington State News
Letter to the Editor - March 5, 2009
Young lives worth investment
I, too, travel the Cheney-Spokane Road and through the 395 intersection, scene of the accident that took the life of a teenaged girl. As a taxpayer I’m willing to pony up to build a $12 million overpass. But with no offense intended to anyone, I wonder if taxpayers are willing to spend another $12 million to save a young life from suicide.
Suicide is our most preventable death. Yet we lose two young people to suicide every single week in our state. In the 10 years since the last fatality at that intersection, we have lost more than 1,000 of our precious children to a preventable public health problem.
Our department of public health suicide prevention budget is a paltry $342,000 per year. In 14 years, only $4.79 million has been spent. To no one’s surprise, we will lose two more youth to suicide the week you read this and every week hereafter unless we adjust our priorities.
A $12 million road fix will reduce – not eliminate – the risk of a fatal accident. A $12 million investment in early screening programs, public health education and better access to children’s mental health services will save dozens of young lives.
Published: July 6, 2008
By Scott Anderson
The Urge to End It All
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem,” Albert Camus wrote, “and that is suicide.” How to explain why, among the only species capable of pondering its own demise, whose desperate attempts to forestall mortality have spawned both armies and branches of medicine in a perpetual search for the Fountain of Youth, there are those who, by their own hand, would choose death over life? Our contradictory reactions to the act speak to the conflicted hold it has on our imaginations: revulsion mixed with fascination, scorn leavened with pity. It is a cardinal sin — but change the packaging a little, and suicide assumes the guise of heroism or high passion, the stuff of literature and art.
Beyond the philosophical paradox are the bewilderingly complex dynamics of the act itself. While a universal phenomenon, the incidence of suicide varies so immensely across different population groups — among nations and cultures, ages and gender, race and religion — that any overarching theory about its root cause is rendered useless. Even identifying those subgroups that are particularly suicide-prone is of very limited help in addressing the issue. In the United States, for example, both elderly men living in Western states and white male adolescents from divorced families are at elevated risk, but since the overwhelming majority in both these groups never attempt suicide, how can we identify the truly at risk among them?
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