Stress, fear, loneliness and economic hardship are exacerbated by Covid-19. How will those feelings increase the risk for higher suicide rates is still a subject of study, but mental health organizations already see signs of a potential increase of the so-called “deaths of despair,” including drug overdose and suicide. Society cannot bury its head in the sand any longer. It needs to prepare for what lies ahead and organize the conditions to support those in need through care, warmth, and mutual responsibility.
After six months of the pandemic, we thought the virus’ behavior and impact had already been sorted out. However, the global plague keeps surprising the scientific community with new mutations, and new symptoms and side effects. Until a cure is discovered, uncertainty will continue to reign and more difficult times can be expected.
As many as 75,000 more Americans could be added to the death toll of the pandemic, not due to natural causes but because they decided to end their own lives, according to an analysis by a national public health group. Suicide rates in the United States have risen by 35 percent overall since the year 2000, according to official data. Historically, economic distress—particularly deep recessions like the one experienced in 2008— have almost doubled the number of people who cut their lives short out of hopelessness. We have entered a new stage in humanity, a new era in which we must be connected to each other through positive reciprocal bonds, where everyone in society acts toward others like a loving mother embracing her dear child.
Suicide is the worst decision a person can take. A desperate person reaches this most extreme resolution in order to escape the pain. In the minds of those who commit such extreme acts, life becomes a burden worth getting rid of, an ordeal without satisfaction. By doing so, they disregard the pain they inflict on their family and friends and manifest complete unwillingness to accept the conditions granted by life.
They seemingly run out of strength to demand what they consider they are entitled to have in life, whatever it is. Instead of involving others to help work on finding solutions together, the suicidal person retreats into his own self-absorbed thoughts and whirlwind of emotions.
While suicide appears to be the most personal of decisions, we carry a collective responsibility as a society for failing to create the necessary conditions for people to live healthy and happy lives. Such conditions would prevent people from reaching the ultimate state of despair, anguish and pain that takes them to the point where they feel life no longer makes sense.
We must create mechanisms of mutual responsibility to guarantee that each person’s most basic needs are met in order to be sure that each person has the essentials necessary for dignified existence.
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗟𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗮𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗗𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀
One should always be aware that whatever torments arise, they are given for our personal advancement, for the purpose of correcting our egoistic nature of self-gratification above any other consideration. Such low states of depression awaken the deepest point hidden within each of us, a spark aimed at a higher level of existence where the dark void is filled.
As foremost Kabbalist Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) writes, “In every person, even in the secular, there is an unknown spark that demands unification with God. When it sometimes awakens, it awakens one to know God, or deny God, which is one and the same. If someone generates the satisfaction of this desire in that person, he will agree to everything.” (The Solution)
Boundless satisfaction cannot be achieved by any one of us alone. It can be achieved only through a good connection with others, and this creates the necessary “field” where the eternal source of fulfillment can be revealed.
What is the right approach to helping someone in despair? We should not overwhelm them with exaggerated sympathy or patronize them. We simply need to express care, listen, be next to them, show them that they are not alone and they can count on their friends and family.
We need to share with someone in despair the thought that there is light after the darkness. In the same way, every gloomy state is the preparation for a better reality, the perception of a new, positive state, since there is no filling without a lack. That new state of feeling that we are understood, protected, and embraced is waiting and will give us renewed passion for life and expand our horizons toward a meaningful life filled with meaning and purpose, joy and abundance.
[Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash]