Monday, April 25, 2016

Choose Life

From The Ramparts
Junious Ricardo Stanton
Choose Life

WASHINGTON — "Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s. The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study Friday."

            A recent study by the US government found suicide rates have skyrocketed in the US at an alarming rate. In the civilian population suicide rates are rising across all demographics except for Black men and people over 75. You can read an article about it at
            Suicide rates among US military personnel are also on the rise. Figures now indicate active duty and veteran suicides are not linked to deployment or battle trauma. "The latest study, which analyzed records of 3.9 million military personnel who served from 2001 to 2007, did find that troops who left the military within four years, especially under less-than-honorable conditions, were at much higher risk of suicide than those who continued to serve. The prevalence of suicide was not even across branches. The Army and Marine Corps, which bore the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, had rates about 25 percent higher than those of the Air Force and Navy. But within those branches, rates between those who deployed and those who did not were nearly the same."
            What does this say about America as a nation? What does this reveal about the psyche of  Americans that so many are taking their own lives? Are these suicide linked to economic conditions? Are they a result of a moral malaise and degeneracy or the glaring cognitive disconnect between what America professes to be and the stark reality of life in this country?
            Suicide is an act of desperation, an act of hopelessness, helplessness and feeling overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of life, what Shakespeare called the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Psychologists and social support workers say the top reasons people attempt or commit suicide are: chronic depression, their cries for help and attention go unrecognized, frustration or despair about their life conditions, addiction, negative thoughts, economic downturn and impulsive behavior that has unintended consequences.
            Life is unpredictable. No one escapes the challenges, the valley experiences, conflicts and uncertainties of life. We all experience them at some point or points in our lives, no one is exempt. I tell people, the only people with no problems that we are aware of are in the cemetery. Challenges and obstacle are part of this thing we call life.
             If you have problems of any kind, be thankful, it means you are alive. To be alive means we have agency we have power and we can choose how we respond to situations and circumstances. We just have to face them head on and decide the best way to deal with them.
            Many of our problems we bring on ourselves through misunderstanding, misguided ego, not being in control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. Most of our problems are the result of choices we made or didn't make. We zigged when we should have zagged. We didn't listen to the still small voice we all have that told us to go here, not to trust that person or to launch out and follow our dream.
             Some things we consider problems are actually tests, drawn and placed strategically in our lives to teach us valuable lessons about ourselves, to provide opportunities and situations to bring out our latent talents, skills and genius. There is a saying, "circumstances don't create or make a person, they reveal him (or her)." The circumstances of our lives reveal a lot about us and our inner make up. There is always a message in the mess and a lesson in the loss. We have to stop the pity party and try to discern the message and the lessons.
            Suicide is a choice. People choose to end their lives or they choose to try to get attention by attempting suicide. Often our thoughts are muddled, incoherent or based on faulty assessments and data. Things aren't always as they appear. We don't see the blessing or benefit in the situation and we take the wrong attitude or action. We too often have a pessimistic outlook and we fail to grasp miracles and unexplained good fortune happen every day.
            As Africans we have faced horrendous challenges, horrific obstacles and difficulties. What lessons can we learn from these experiences? Which ones have we brought on ourselves, what can these experiences teach us about ourselves? We have experienced horrific violence, unfathomable heartache, suffering and disappointment but through it all we have endured albeit in a wounded way. We have triumphed against overwhelming and outrageous odds. In the midst of oppression we have been extraordinarily creative, we have demonstrated to the world our resilience, fortitude and gumption. We did so in the midst of unimaginable turmoil, insanity and psychopathy.
            Yet we are still here. We are still going strong! The suicide study stated the suicide rate for Black men has gone down! That is great news. What does that say about us as a people?! How can we build on this? Could the message in the mess be that we are an awesome people? Could the lesson in our horrific losses be that we are more than capable of overcoming?
            What if we told each other this and showed love for each other? What if we learned and internalized the lessons? What if we changed our negative, stultifying externally imposed self-image to a self-image of winners in every aspect of life not just sports?! What if we defined ourselves as triumphant doers achievers and genii?! What if we recognized our inner greatness and linkage to the DIVINE in everything?! Would our health be better?
            Would we express our genius in ways currently unimagined? How would we manifest our talents, gifts and skills if we had that kind of consciousness?  Would we stop making everyone else rich and empower and enrich ourselves? if so how? Can you see this in your mind's eye. If so we can make it real. If so we can make it happen. But to make it happen we have to first choose life, we have to choose to live on the highest levels possible. Choose life today my Brothers and Sistahs.



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