Suicide must be discussed

Glenn P. Castleberry

When will the unnecessary dying stop?

No, I am not talking about dying as a result of war, but rather the death of those who take their own life through suicide.

This is a growing problem, and it is time for something to be done so the unnecessary dying will cease.

An individual dies from suicide every 40 seconds. Suicide claims the life of 86 people somewhere in the world each day. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the highest suicide rates are among Caucasian males age 65 and older. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 19-24 years. It claims the life of 30 percent of college students.

“This is at a time when we think kids are having the time of their lives,” said Jan Ulrich, mother of suicide victim and Western student Nathan Eisert, in a Courier-Journal article. “I didn’t know we needed to talk about this … I had no clue.”

The time to talk is now.

The word needs to be spread that mental illness is a serious problem which can lead to serious consequences. Ninety percent of individuals will suffer from a mental illness during his or her life.

Parents need to take the first step in educating their kids about mental illness and letting them know their feelings are OK. Parents teach their kids about drugs, alcohol and sex, but they rarely discuss depression and how to handle it.

Warning signs include:

•Talking about dying.

•Becoming depressed or withdrawn.

•Behaving recklessly.

•Getting affairs in order and giving away valued possessions.

•Showing a marked change in behavior, attitudes or appearance.

•Abusing drugs or alcohol.

•Suffering a major loss or life change.

The word has got to get out.

The term “suicide” has become taboo. The primary way for the message to get out is through the media. Some media outlets will not cover a suicide unless it is a public person doing it in a public place. Suicide should not be covered as an event but rather as an issue.

The issue needs to be reported at all levels.

A priority of the media should be to inform the public about mental illness and suicide, but it should be done in a tasteful way.

Media should try to avoid using “suicide” in the headline. Within the article, the act should be referred to as “death by suicide.”

It is important to get the word out, but the media do not want to cause copycat suicides. Suicide should not be romanticized.

While media are wonderful outlets to inform the public about suicide, it is the public’s responsibility to take the information and do something about it.

Know the warning signs and be aware of those around you. If someone is exhibiting a warning sign, talk with him or her. Who knows, you may save a life.

If everyone joins together, the dying will cease.

The question is, who will stand up, get informed and end the unnecessary deaths that are plaguing our world?

Glenn P. Castleberry is a junior print journalism and religious studies double major from Goodlettsville, Tenn.

The opinions expressed in this commentary represent only those of the writer, and not of the Herald or of Western Kentucky University.