Voice of the People: Holiday Suicides Are A Myth, But The Lack Of Love Is Real

Voice of the People by James J. Devineby James J. Devine

The idea that suicides occur more frequently during the holiday season is a long perpetuated myth that has been effectively dispelled by the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

What remains true is that many suffer sadness at this time of year grieving over lost loved ones or feeling inadequate while everyone else seems thrilled and happy.

When I was four years old, my father died from heart failure on Christmas Day so I am keenly aware that people grieve at this time of year. One of my godsons also died too early, and although I am reminded of him every day, I miss him more around Christmas.

As my children decorate the tree to the sound of our favorite holiday tunes, there are teardrops among the tinsel.

A local funeral director has in recent years offered a commemorative service for families saddened by the first celebration without loved ones who passed away during the year as well as those who miss loved ones who are long gone and yet strong in someone’s memory.

Without giving up our own happiness, we should be sympathetic and aware of those who suffer depression amid the festivities. We are all in this together, after all, and the reason for the season is love.

And that brings me to the point of my worry…

Caring and being concerned for people is a fading practice in modern society. No better example of this exists than the incredible gap that has emerged among the rich and poor in America, and by ‘poor’ I mean the 99 percent of us who work for a living.

Billionaire Mitt Romney condemned 47 percent of ‘takers’ — which includes the part of America’s population comprised of children who are yet to enter the workforce, the elderly who retired after a lifetime of labor, as well as the 20 percent working part time for low wages or who are jobless.

The division that exists today has 400 individuals owning as much wealth as the 160 million Americans who make up half the population. Those who are doing a little bit better than bordering on poverty have almost no shot at becoming rich anymore — and that has almost never been the case in America.

An income of $100,000 or even $200,000 still leaves one among the 98 percent whose life savings has been significantly depleted by the recent financial crisis and the children of that group stand a better chance of working at McDonalds or Walmart than running a Fortune 500 company.

The American Dream is a nightmare for many people who work hard, play by the rules and expected that justice, peace and prosperity come as part of the social contract. Instead, a tiny minority of America has bought influence over the political sector and used vast wealth to divide and conquer the rest of us.

Greed is not good, but avarice has been working since Ronald Reagan won the White House. America can overcome this challenge by simply behaving like Americans again. All we need is love.

President John F. Kennedy told Americans to ‘ask what you can do for your country’ and here are three of those things:

  • Educate yourself about the real issues, including economics and history, and vote in every election armed with that knowledge;
  • Identify groups and individuals who share your values and ideals, then work with them to demand common sense policies from elected officials;
  • Run for office or volunteer and contribute to candidates who challenge incumbent politicians that fail to get the results you want.

Patriotism was never blindly obeying a government. Charity is not merely throwing money at problems. Caring for your country and humanity requires effort and understanding, but love is the most powerful force in the universe.

We are all in this together, and Americans can do anything we set out to do, so be of good cheer and show that you care.

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