House of Horrors
Posted on Apr 18, 2013
By Erika Eichelberger, TomDispatch
Often enough, suicides fail. Nearly one million people attempt suicide every year. In 2010, 464,995 people visited a hospital for injuries due to suicidal behavior. Even though men succeed in killing themselves more often, women attempt suicide three times as often as men. According to researchers, that’s because a woman is more likely to use the act as a cry for help, rather than to end her life.
Suicide is not a pretty thing to talk about. That’s one reason why federal policy on suicide prevention is still in its infancy. A movement organized by the families and friends of victims began to build throughout the 1990s, however, and eventually got the attention of Surgeon General David Satcher. In 2001, he laid out the first national strategy for suicide prevention. But 12 years later, advocates say federal funding for suicide prevention and research is still insufficient.
Oddly enough, since the federal government instituted its response, suicide rates have been climbing. The national suicide rate had been on the decline for decades: between 1990 and 2000, it dropped from 12.5 to 10.4 deaths per 100,000. In the next decade, it started to rise again and stood at 12.1 per 100,000 in 2010.
Suicide is up. Severe child abuse is on the rise. Domestic violence is still the number one injurer of women. The classic notion of the home as a refuge, not an abattoir, seems more and more like a joke.
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Erika Eichelberger is a senior editorial fellow at Mother Jones where she writes regularly for the website. She is also director of social media for TomDispatch. She has written for the Nation, the Brooklyn Rail, and Alternet.
[Note to readers: The names of the three victims portrayed in this piece have been changed.]
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Copyright 2013 Erika Eichelberger
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