During a conversation I had this morning with a friend, the topic of depression and suicide and general sense of disorder and hopelessness was touched on. A quote popped into my head that I wanted to share. The famed British atheist and Nobel Laureate, Bertrand Russell, seems to state the human condition clearly and without flinching when he says:
“That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.” ― A Free Man’s Worship
The statistics are staggering related to depression/suicide (see below) and hopelessness in our world. As William Lane Craig says, “Modern man thought that when he had gotten rid of God, he had freed himself from all that repressed and stifled him. Instead, he discovered that in killing God, he had also killed himself. For if there is no God, then man’s life becomes absurd.” Obviously suicide and depression are complex issues related to various factors in each individuals life, from substance abuse to chemical imbalances to external factors. However, the backdrop of nihilism as a reality (even when unstated) I think compounds the problems of depression and suicide as people realize that there literally is no objective hope, meaning, or value to live for.
Belief in God matters. But more than that, the existence of God and who God is matters.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
- Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
- There is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. (CDC)
- Depression affects 20-25%of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
- Suicide takes the lives of over 44,965 Americans every year. (CDC)
- The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
- 80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS study)
- An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
- There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
- There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)