Thursday, August 23, 2007

8 Percent...

I'm still shocked and quite unnerved about a story I heard on local radio nearly two days ago. EIGHT PERCENT of New Orleanians are apparently suicidal, according to a study that followed up on 800 of an original 1000 people surveyed 6 months post-Katrina. People in hard hit Mississippi aren't faring much better as about 6% of survivors there now admit to currently considering killing themselves. I hear a million disheartening stories a day about our (un)recovery, and they all upset me, but this one...I'm scared speechless.

I've been busy moving to a new place (don't worry, friends -- I'm still in N.O.!) but I don't think I've been SO removed from society that I may have missed our public officials' alarmed reaction to this news. Maybe I did. I know we're down on our politicians right now, and we have every reason to be. At the same time, I know they're so overloaded that they can't react to EVERY negative development right away. But, my Gawd, nearly one-tenth of their constituents is contemplating suicide seriously enough to tell research assistants from way across the country that they feel they can't go on anymore! Hello...that's a cry for help! What more do we need to do?! Throw up the fuckin' bat signal?

[Sidenote: Anyone planning to post a comment about how we are only whining for help and won't get off our asses or that we should let this "cesspool" sink into the sea can kiss my ass on Canal Street.]

I realize that stats and epidemiology comes across as Greek alot of times (assuming one doesn't speak Greek), so let me put some context around this:
  • The National Mental Health Association estimate that 4% of American adults contemplate suicide. If I figure correctly, based on the optimistic population count of 300,000, the 8% translates into 8,000 New Orleanians per every 100,000 who are thinking of killing themselves.
  • The National Institutes of Health reported that in 2004, 10.9 per every 100,000 people killed themselves, and estimated there are 8-25 attempts (or roughly 87.2-272.5 attempts per 100,000 persons) for every completed suicide. Attempting is different from contemplating, but I can't help but assume we're blowing national estimates out of the fucking water. If even 1% of those considering suicide here were to take their lives, that' d still put us at 80 (compared to 10.9) per every 100,000, which would mean 640 to 2000 New Orleanians per every 100,000 residents will attempt to take their lives within a year's time.
Overcoming major adversity can give people hope and perspective on things; feeling like there's no way out of hard times does not. I fear that the window for recovery has closed for some people. Everyone is worn down, I know, but we must somehow find the energy and concern to check on those around us. Sometimes a simple, "Seriously, how are you?" will give someone the chance to unload enough of their burden to get them through.

If you find yourself in the 8%, you are certainly not alone. Don't let shame or a sense of doom and hopelessness lead you to do something that will only add to the greater misery. And remember, you're doing alot to aid our recovery simply by not being a politician. (And if you're a politician, just remember you haven't even come close to fucking things up like those idiots we elected to serve with you).

In all seriousness, here are some resources if you or someone you know could use a few

1 comment:

Leigh C. said...

Yashir koach (well done), E. J.!

Good to see you at RT II. Wish I'd had the chance to talk with you.

Stay well and take care.