If you have paid any attention to the news over the last couple of years, you may have noticed a trend that does not get enough attention these days: the suicide rate in the United States is growing rapidly.
As of 2018, suicide was listed as the tenth overall cause of the death in the United States, and those numbers have been climbing sharply over the last decade. The data is clear, Americans are suffering from depression at much higher rates than ever before, and are thus committing suicide at higher rates as well. Unfortunately for us, the bad news does not stop there.
The United States is still suffering from its much documented opioid crisis, which accounts for almost 70% of all drug overdoses each year. On average, 130 Americans die everyday from an opioid overdose, and the epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 700,000 Americans between 1999 and 2017. These two epidemics have claimed staggering amounts of lives, and both have only come to prominence in the last 20 years or so. But these numbers beg one question, a question that has yet to be solved. Why?
Most of us probably know someone who is dealing with depression, an opiod addiction, or both. But we still fail to understand why these numbers are still on the rise. If you look at our economic prosperity and quality of life statistics, the numbers make even less sense. Americans have never had more wealth, job opportunities, or goods and services that make our lives so much better. In the last twenty years, we have seen an explosion in technology that makes connections easier, makes our daily chores take up less of our time, and entertainment has never been as accessible as it is right now. But despite all of our progress, Americans still find themselves in a rut of despair and disconnect. The opioid crisis is just a symptom of a much larger issue, a tool that some of us use to escape our reality and the disconnect that a large percentage of us feel everyday. To put it simply, Americans have gained the whole world in terms of wealth and technology, but have sold our souls in the process.
That concept is not hard to grasp, especially for those who remember the age before this explosion of wealth and technology.
Over the holidays, I asked my relatives questions related to this depression and opioid explosion, as I attempted to discover if anything has changed concerning our social fabric over this time. Their answers told me that everyday people are seeing the change as well, but had not put all the pieces together. They all noticed that Americans have secluded themselves from each other, and are not participating in the same social institutions that held us together before. Churches, schools, family and social gatherings all have fallen by the wayside over the last twenty years. Our connection as Americans has collapsed, so why is it any surprise that we feel less connected and less happy as a result? The data largely backs this up, especially for young people. Overall, Gen Z people feel far more lonely than they did before, and the numbers are staggering. The average person has only one friend, with 25% of the rest of us having zero close confidants. If you combine that with religious service attendance being at an all time low, then it is not hard to understand why we are in the mess that we are in.
As these dual epidemics of depression and suicide rates continue unabated in our society, experts are still searching for solutions. Those on the left push for gun control and other forms of curbing the spike, but those solutions are really just political goals that are being pushed by an unrelated crisis. It is true that a large majority of suicides are carried out with firearms, but would limiting access to firearms really curb suicides? There are, of course, other methods that are not firearm related making such “solutions” useless to solve the problem. The only real way to solve both the depression and suicide epidemics is to fix our broken culture and social fabric. When we can put down the technology, interact in face-to-face interactions that make us less lonely and more connected to our community and society at large, we may see a large drop in the symptoms of our broken social fabric: suicide and depression.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.