If we are beyond the age of 18 and honest with ourselves, we have all probably thought of checking out at some point. By “checking out” of course, I mean suicide. Who has not stood on a high cliff and thought of stepping off?
How many people who have access to guns have not thought of putting a bullet into the chamber and sticking the barrel under their chin or putting it in their mouth or if it’s a handgun putting it to their head and checking out. So easy; no more responsibilities, no more emotional trauma, no more bad relationship, no more financial worries, and no more anything; peace, it’s over. Given all that it is a wonder more people don’t do it.
In Greenland 108 people per every 100,000, end their lives this way. In some towns there, it is the leading cause of death. The majority of those checking out in Greenland are between the ages of 15-24. In most countries, the suicide rate climbs, as people get older, in Greenland oddly enough it decreases with age.
In the United States the rate of suicide is around 12 for every 100,000, thousand people.
Alaska currently ranks number one in the number of suicides with 21.8 per 100,000. This is not a statistic that Alaska advertises in their tourism brochures. Vermont’s tied with Utah for fifteenth place with a suicide rate of 14.3 deaths per 100,000 and Maine comes in a fourteenth with a rate of 14.5. If you are thinking the answer is the cold, you’re wrong, because Arizona and Nevada come in eight and fifth respectively with rates of 16 and 18.4 per 100,000.
I know prior to getting sober I thought of suicide on many an occasion. During my 20 plus years of drinking, I took some extremely crazy chances with my life and the lives of those who were with me. On the last night I ever drank the police had picked me up and were giving me a ride home. One police officer asked me what I was going to do when I got there. Without considering the consequences of my statement because I was drunk, I told him I had a .38 in my bottom drawer that I was going to take out stick it in my mouth and get this show over with.
Needless to say he did not take me home and I have not had another drink since that night twenty-five years ago. Would I have acted on what I had said, I will never know but I had been considering that option for a long time and knew exactly where I was going to do it and about where I would fall when I hit. I have to believe I would have more than likely followed through on what I had said.
My life has changed much since then. I have two wonderful children that would have never been born, I have run the Boston Marathon, gone scuba diving, skydiving and written a book. Many who would have grieved due to my selfishness did not have to do that.
There still have been times in my life since then when suicide has crossed my mind. In no way have I ever seriously considered acting on it. Nevertheless, the thoughts still occasionally invade my mind. I do not personally think that this is abnormal. I think if most people were honest with themselves, they would also say it has emerged as a thought in their minds. It is not possible to control every thought that crosses out minds; we can however control what we do with those thoughts.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between those few who do check out verses the vast majority of us who do not. The difference between the thought and the action because no matter how dark our world seems, how hopeless a situation looks like…especially alone in the dark of night, it’s not as bad as we imagine it to be and that within a few days in all likelihood that problem we think is insurmountable will get better.