Conference Day

Andrew's picture resting against my water glass

Shannon and I with General Sutton aide

Suicide grim’s statistics were reiterated during the Conference on Monday.
One American dies of Suicide every sixteen minutes, more than 33,000 die by suicide every year.
Every day, in the United States, 2,300 people attempt to take their life and 90% of suicides have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-24 years old.
The suicide rate has also increased amongst people who are 65 and older.
Male Veterans have double the suicide rate of civilians and more Americans die each year by suicide than homicide.

Those are the numbers and these are the quantifiable costs:

Suicides in one year cost the U.S. $13 billion in lost earnings.
1.3 million years of life are lost to suicide annually.
Suicide attempts requiring hospitalization cost the U.S. $3.8 billion each year.

Did you know? Had you even thought about it in the first place, how endemic suicide is? I doubt it.
I doubt it because until my Andrew took his life, suicide was the last thing on my mind.
Even when the daughter of a dear friend jumped from the top of a building and died on Thanksgiving day several years ago, I didn’t think too much about it. I cried and cried at our friend’s loss, my heart ached at the pain I saw etched on his dear face. Staring at her coffin, Hugh, Florentina and I cried listening to our friend talk about his daughter. Too sad to come, Andrew and Robert had gone to school instead.
Years later we found ourselves on the other side of the pulpit, with our beautiful Andrew lying in the coffin.
Who have ever thought it possible? Not us!

Going back to the conference, the foundation of suicide prevention lies in the awareness and greater understanding of, mental health. Depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorder are among the leading causes of suicide. When de-stigmatized and recognized, they can be treated.
But do you know that mental health is not included in most people health coverage? Why is mental health seen as different from any other health issues?
And did you know that even with mental health coverage, the majority of psychiatrist do not take health insurance patients? In fact, I found out that unless you are personally recommended by someone, psychiatrists don’t even return your phone calls? Can you believe that?
Oh, I almost forgot, there is a high incidence of suicide amongst doctors, I don’t know why, but I was really surprised by that statistics.

As the day progressed, I took it all in and was not surprised that the only solution put forward was that already mentioned, allopathically treating mental disorders, symptoms.
With Andrew’s picture sitting in front of me all day, I felt as though we were both attending the conference.
“You used to scoff at it when you were here, but now that you are up “there” what do you think about Yoga and Meditation?” I found myself silently asking him.
“Go for it Mummy,” seemed to come back to me with a chuckle.

You all know by now that I am an advocate of Yoga and Meditation, and that I work and hope to see a day, maybe in our children’s children’s generation, when Meditation will be as natural as brushing teeth.
I believe that in these times of great change, the old paradigms are no longer adequate, our vision needs to expand, explore and embrace alternative or sometimes simply complementary healing tools.
More than healing though, Meditation is the best preventative medicine known (or not, in the case of most of the Western world) to man.
“One way or another,” I said turning back to Andrew. ” I’ll find a way of bringing this up tomorrow when we go to The Hill.”

Andrew and I at the Conference

See you tomorrow,
Esmeralda and Andrew


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