I turned 40 last year. To be honest it didn’t phase me. At least not on my actual birthday… but as my 40th year has progressed it has proven to be quite a landmark year. I’ve noticed lots of people my age died. Some of natural causes but lots more of suicide. Some famous, some not so famous. I’d rather not mention specific names in respect for their families. They’ve had enough pain.
In watching the news and social media I have seen an uptick of suicide. In fact, if you look at the chart below you can see Gen X’ers line is steadily rising.
I’m the guy in orange. You see that sharp straight line up? That’s scary.
You know what else is scary. A good percentage of my friends are depressed. And I’m not part of some sub-genre clique of people. My friends and I are average people. The whole deal: jobs, pets, family, hobbies, parties, the “American Dreamers”, artists, musicians, business owners, travelers, friends from other countries. We all share 2 things in common. We’re all the same generation and we’re fucking miserable. We joke about it on social media. Memes are shared. But the fact is I know few people who are content.
I recently posted for the first time something about my struggle with depression. I kind of used it as a borameter to see how people would react. I’m not known socially to be “depressed”. But the fact is, I’ve lost years in bed struggling with trying to get at least one thing done.
Feeling like Dexter and going through the motions of what is “normal”. Forcing myself to be social because I know if you isolate yourself you’re basically halfway in the grave.
The response I received to what I thought was going to be a post that was going to go under the radar was overwhelming. People posted and messaged me with their struggles as well. Most of it was, “me too”.
What is really surprising is these poor souls who have committed suicide had everything to live for. Good support systems, good families, a solid social life, decent careers, children who looked up to them, money, a home, love in their lives, food to fill their bellies, warm clean beds to sleep in at night, they were talented and beloved. So why are we so unhappy?
Without being a sociologist or scientistist, I can only pose theories.
1. Our parents were taught everything wrong and now we know it. Thus breaking down the very foundations of our youth. (Seatbelts, carcinogens, diet, medicine). We’re fucking confused.
2. Our parents were told pills fix everything, in turn, we were fed pills. I think these pills have fucked us up. In my observations many of the suicides were of people on meds, felt good, got off, and it backfired. You know that leaflet that says,”may increase thoughts of suicide”. It’s real. Our brain chemistry is fucked up.
3. We’re now old enough for our children and other generations to expect us to know everything and help fix the world. The problem is we’re so fucked up, we can’t focus on a cause and come together. Thus feeling helpless and most of all USELESS and WORTHLESS.
This is where I think suicide comes in. The thoughts of feeling you can’t do more to change your circumstances. Helplessness. The world would be a better place without me. You have no value.
Unfortunately, it’s not. Our generation doesn’t give itself enough credit. We used the Dewey decimal system, atlases, telephones in home, got up to change the channel on a black and white tv. We didn’t use seatbelts or helmets. We’re clever, smart, and should be survivors.
At 40, our parents had homes and families and cars already for almost 20 years. At 40 now I just barely bought my first home. I did move out at 17, but the pressure to be what our parents were is high. And also something that isn’t really modern any more. But us 40 yr olds haven’t gotten that yet. We beat ourselves up for still not having a career, not being “successful”, growing up that 40 was ” over the hill”. For not being a “role model”.
I think the most tragic part of these suicides is literally hours before, these people spent time with friends/family or performed music right before they did it. No indication that they felt like the “loneliest person in a crowded room” (I’m there often), or that that person put on their happy Dexter mask as they mingled, wondering how does everyone else function so easily?
And I’m telling you, amount my age group (kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s) this is how they’re feeling. Openly sharing it.
This post isn’t to provide solutions, because if I had one I, too, wouldn’t suffer. This post is to bring awareness that something is amiss in our generation.
I think most of us 40 somethings today look at every end of the day as:
If you are struggling. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It seems like many of us are in it together. Many blessings.