Ed: We’ve heard suicide described as an epidemic in the U.S. Would you share some of the facts about the prevalence of this issue among Americans today?
Matthew: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 34-year-olds.
It’s the tenth leading cause of death in adults.
Females are twice as likely to attempt suicide.
Males are four times as likely to die by suicide.
Over the past two decades, suicide rates have risen about 35 percent—and that’s not counting the people who die by overdose. When people take fentanyl (which is 50 times more potent than heroin) or carfentanil (which is 10,000 times more potent than heroin), they are—at best—ambivalent about waking up the next morning. If we include overdose deaths and adjust for medical advances over the past century (overdose-reversing drugs, antidepressants, 911, and ER systems, etc.), our suicide rate would be at least twenty times higher than it was during the Great Depression.
We are experiencing the greatest depression the world has ever known…
Dr. Matthew Sleeth saw thousands of suicide attempts during his many years overseeing emergency rooms and departments. Now as a Christian author and founder of Blessed Earth, he’s out to arm his brothers and sisters in Christ with the knowledge they need to fight a sudden surge in suicides.
With 1,500,000 Americans likely to try killing themselves this year, Sleeth believes many of them could be talked back from the brink.
Rate Would be Far Higher if We Were in the Medical World of the Great Depression
The suicide rate is now as bad as the other worst time in America for people killing themselves, the Great Depression. But Sleeth says it would be much higher than the present roughly 14 out of 100,000 people without the many modern medical advances thwarting so many of today’s suicide attempts.
Sleeth told CBN News, “Our suicide rate would be anywhere from 100 per 100,000 to 300 per 100,000. Meaning the highest it’s ever been anywhere in history, any country…”
“How can we help those struggling with mental illness and suicide?
Suicide and mental illness are prevalent and worsening issues in our current culture, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this interview, Matthew Sleeth shares lessons from his book on the importance of prevention and how we can help those struggling seek hope and resilience.
Jamie Aten: Why did you set out to write your book?
Matthew Sleeth: As a physician and a theologian, I wanted to explore two questions:
Has society’s overemphasis on materialism, status, and power resulted in a world that is unlivable?
If our suicide rate has increased virtually every year over the past three decades, should our approach to preventing suicide in the future merely be more of the same?
Experience and research show that both faith-based and secular approaches are helpful to those suffering from mental illness and, in particular, suicidal ideation. However, we live in a time where there is a growing divide between the secular and sacred worlds. I wanted to give people a book that offers the best of both…”
Originally written for Psychology Today by Jamie D. Aten Ph.D.