Cause of Death

I recently received some sad news that a friend I hadn’t seen in a while had committed suicide by hanging himself. In shock, his stepson posted the news on Facebook, which was how I found out because unfortunately we hadn’t been in touch for over six months. Anyone who knew him well though was not surprised, as he had struggled with his demons for years.

Some people were shocked that the cause of death was publicly posted and that made me wonder about why we shy away from posting the cause of death in suicide situations.

If someone posted that a person had died and did not include the cause of death, many questions would be asked… why? how? If we don’t hesitate to say when someone dies as the result of a car accident, or passed away after succumbing to cancer, why do we hesitate to say the cause of death was suicide?

Causes of Death

We’d better get used to saying it – suicide rates have made it to the top ten causes of death.

Actually, suicide is the method of death, the cause of death is mental illness. Why are we afraid to say that? Diabetes is listed as a cause of death but few people die from diabetes directly – it’s from the effect of diabetes such as heart attack, kidney failure, etc.  My sister died from asphyxiation, caused by lung cancer. My friend died from suicide, caused by mental illness.

Listing suicide as the cause of death makes it sound as if there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. If we can properly identify the cause of death as mental illness, maybe we, as a society, can start working on a treatment and prevention plan. Like we do for heart disease and cancer.

Some things don’t belong in a top ten list.

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