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The Topic of Suicide

The topic of suicide has been heavily discussed in the past few weeks, such as the death of Aaron Hernandez, who recently hanged himself while incarcerated in a Massachusetts prison. Then there’s the recent Netflix show that dramatizes the final moments of a high school student before she ultimately decides to take her own life. This same show received criticism, however, due to its handling of the topic, with some arguing that it ignores the role that mental health can play in suicide, and instead implies that generosity and kindness are simple remedies to counteract the issues suicidal individuals may face.

So what do data tell us about suicide rates and mental health? According to the University of Washington, more than 90% of suicide victims have a diagnosable mental disorder, many of which are left untreated. For example, Massachusetts, where Aaron Hernandez was incarecerated, tied for the 4th highest rate of prison related suicides in the 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. As a result, the state implemented a number of new procedures, including multiple screenings for inmates, but even with these screenings, cases like Aaron Hernandez’s death still persist.

While it may be difficult to understand the reasoning behind all acts of suicide, these recent events have at least opened the door for us to openly discuss and explore additional ways in which we can potentially help reduce suicide rates in the future. It can also help to address and better treat cases of mental illness, while hopefully eliminating the stigma associated with it in the process.