The news of David Carradine’s death ( David Carradine Dead From Apparent Suicide ) might have not registered with me had I not read of his cause of death, reportedly by hanging. That’s how my brother took his life four years ago.
Did you know that suicide is the number 8 cause in the United States for death among men? They make up 80% of total suicide deaths. For women, it’s the 17th most common reason for death. Women do make more attempts (60%), but men use more violent and “sure” ways of dying, which makes them more likely to die from their attempt.
For men, using a gun is the most common method of suicide - 11.2 out of 100,000, while it only happens in 1.5/100,000 women. The second most common in men is suffocation (including hanging), followed by poisoning. For women, the most common cause is poisoning. These statistics were taken from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
While we don’t know the circumstances around Mr. Carradine’s death, if you’ve ever known someone who has committed suicide, you know that their death leaves behind many questions. Did anyone notice anything? Could I have done something? Should I have done something? Why didn’t he say something?
If I learned anything through my experience it’s that asking these questions don’t do anything because the one person who could answer them is no longer with us.
Going through with it
A social worker told me something interesting after JP died. She said that for most, the actual suicide isn’t the first time he or she wanted to do it. She explained that JP probably had planned this before but got interrupted or something stopped him from following through. Who knows? Maybe he got a phone call, thought of something, and then didn’t go through it that particular day - only to do it another one, the day he did die.
Is is surprising that so many men successfully end their lives? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s surprising at all. Even in today’s society, where men are given more freedom to be who they want to be, there’s still a huge stigma attached to mental illness, including depression and anxiety. It’s much harder for a man, in general, to admit he needs help than a woman to do so. Men are expected to suck it up, hide their feelings, move on. A woman can cry all weekend after a break up, for example, but a man is expected to go out on the town, find a new partner maybe.
And sometimes, it just happens because even if the man reaches out, the system fails him. That’s what happened with my brother. He had reached out, he needed help, but the mental health system failed him. Instead, he self-medicated his pain and, given the outcome, not very successfully.
With Father’s day coming up, one of the best things for yourself, your own gift if you’re a father and a gift to yourself just because if you’re not, is to take care of your own mental health. Don’t let despair take over. Don’t let anxiety eat away at you. Don’t self medicate with alcohol and drugs. It doesn’t work.
If you break a leg, you get it casted. If your appendix bursts, you get it removed. If your brain is making you sick, that can be looked at and helped. Do it for you. Do it for those who love you. Do it for people like Mr. Carradine and my brother (and the 2 sons he left behind) who didn’t get the help they needed. Please.