[TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDAL IDEATION]
You might think of me as a radical. And I probably am. And obviously I'm okay with that. But I'm a radical because of the way I see people suffering every day. And today I'm just talking about people I know and personally care about, not even the people who are so much worse off than those in my social circles. But also, let's talk about them.
World Mental Health Day is this Thursday. The other day I wrote an article for work about how U.S. suicide rates are the highest they've been since the Great Depression. I've blogged before about how suicidal ideation among the younger generations has become so common that it's basically a running joke on Tumblr and other online spaces. Anxiety and depression on some level are practically a given.
I know far too many people personally who have dealt with an ongoing struggle with suicidal ideation. And it is always related to the hurdles that have been dumped in front of us by our society. Hurdles that have made it seem and continue to make it seem impossible to reach a state of stability and personal satisfaction - things we were pretty much told were a guarantee as long as we "worked hard" and got a college degree.
Some of the people I know have gotten over the worst of the hurdles, but not without immense struggle and pain. Others I know are still staring down hurdles that seem insurmountable. It's always directly related to work and/or going to school to get better work but the student loans and the exhaustion that comes from holding just one full-time job if not more.
And I mean, in terms of myself, my work currently fulfills the "personal satisfaction" bit, I think, but stability? As a freelancer? That's not really a thing. I could lose any of my clients at any time for any reason, and a chunk of my income with them. I can try to save up as much money as I can but apparently I'm killing the economy by doing so, and with the expenses related to not having a lot of money, it's not easy. I'm far from any kind of comfort zone in respect to savings right now.
And it's hardly better for people with normal jobs. Even the supposedly progressive Washington State is an at-will state, which basically means you can be fired at any time for any reason as long as your employer doesn't explicitly say that they're firing you for an illegal reason in a way that can be documented so you can hand the proof over to the proper authorities. It happens to people all the time.
Why do people think suicide rates are so high? Social media and smart phones might have something to do with it, but I've also seen them become lifelines to actively suicidal people. You want to know the real reason so many of us want to die all the time?
No stability. Soul-crushing jobs. Constant financial stress. Abuse from employers and customers without any path to justice or protection. No way out. No hope for the future.
I see centrists offering up small changes that might help some a little in the short term but minimum wage increases aren't even keeping up with rising rents and costs of living. Reducing tuition costs doesn't help people already drowning in so much debt that any more feels impossible, especially knowing that even a Master's or higher degree doesn't guarantee a better paying job, or a job at all.
As far as I'm concerned, this era could easily be called another Great Depression.
This is why I'm a radical. Because we need radical change. The entire system needs to change because even if we can somehow make a mass number of reforms to make things tolerable to most people, there will still be people left who are trapped like this and the system will continue to shift back to how it is now, and worse. Capitalism will always fight to go in this awful direction because that is its nature.
I don't think people in more comfortable positions understand just how much so many people are struggling and suffering right now. I see it every day and it breaks my heart every day. If you really care about suicide rates, you have to abolish capitalism. Nobody should have to suffer like this.