Friday, November 30, 2018



I read obituaries, that’s what I do. At one time in the Bible Belt most people indicated their Church affiliation in their obituary. More and more, no religious affiliation is indicated and services are deferred to a later date TBA. This is code for there won’t be services!

I wonder if being a none contributes to the aimlessness of so many lives and to subsequent mental disorders?

Suicide pushes down life expectancy

NEW YORK — Suicides and drug overdoses pushed up U.S. deaths last year, and drove a continuing decline in how long Americans are expected to live.

Overall, there were more than 2.8 million U.S. deaths in 2017, or nearly 70,000 more than the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. It was the most deaths in a single year since the government began counting more than a century ago.

The increase partly reflects the nation's growing and aging population. But it's deaths in younger age groups — particularly middle-aged people — that have had the largest impact on calculations of life expectancy, experts said.

"These sobering statisticsareawake-upcallthat we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable," Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC's director, said in a statement.

The suicide death rate last year was the highest it's been in at least 50 years, according to U.S. government records. There were more than 47,000 suicides, up from a little under 45,000 the year before.

For decades, U.S. life expectancy was on the upswing, rising a few months nearly every year. Now it's trending the other way: It fell in 2015, stayed level in 2016, and declined again last year, the CDC said.

The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill nearly 1 million Americans. Life expectancy in 1918 was 39.

Aside from that, "we've never really seen anything like this," said Robert Anderson, who oversees CDC death statistics.

In the nation's 10 leading causes of death, only the cancer death rate fell in 2017. Meanwhile, there were increases in seven others — suicide, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, flu/pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases and unintentional injuries.

An underlying factor is that the death rate for heart disease — the nation's No. 1 killer — has stopped falling. In years past, declines in heart disease deaths were enough to offset increases in some other kinds of death, but no longer, Anderson said.

(The CDC's numbers do sometimes change. This week, CDC officials said they had revised their life expectancy estimate for 2016 after some additional data came in.)

CDC officials did not speculate about what's behind declining life expectancy, but Dr. William Dietz, a disease prevention expert at George Washington University, sees a sense of hopelessness.

Financial struggles, a widening income gap and divisive politics are all casting a pall over many Americans, he suggested. "I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide," he said.

VoteCast, a wide-ranging survey of the electorate conducted by The Associated Press, found voters expressing pessimistic views about the future: About half of voters nationwide said they expect life in America for the next generation to be worse than it is today.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Years ago in Savannah, everyone died of one of two things, according to the obits.

"John Jones, 94, died following a long illness..."


"Jane Smith, 79, died following a short illness..."

There was a lot of that going around.

TJM said...

The Catholic Faith of many died after a short exposure to false aggiornamento following Vatican Disaster II!

rcg said...

Heard this on the radio this morning. The National Director of something or other declared that “too many” were killing themselves or dying of overdoses, etc. whenever I hear that from a politician I wonder what number of deaths does he (or she) think is about right? There is no concern over the number of abortions, which is as profound statement of hopelessness as can be made. The people that are killing themselves in too large numbers are in the prime age for continuing our species and cultures. It is the Progressive Way to number everything and place it in its place. Perhaps the young people have clearly heard the message, “We need your labor but nothing else,”.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"I wonder if being a none contributes to the aimlessness of so many lives and to subsequent mental disorders?"

Quite possibly. Without lasting values or goals, whatever those might be, a person can become very disoriented, bouncing from one set of pleasures to another. These, of course, are fleeting. After some time a person without lasting values/goals can become disillusioned with life in general, leading to a sense of worthlessness and the conclusion that "all things are vanity."

We have, as a society, replaced values and goals with temporary pleasures galore. With our relative wealth, we can easily obtain temporary pleasure after temporary pleasure. When we have too many of these, if they are things, we can rent a climate controlled storage unit so that our "stuff" can live comfortably and undisturbed.

The love of money is the root of all evil, don'tcha know...

Don't discount the physiological causes of mental illness. I cringe sometimes when I see "I'm too blessed to be depressed," since, it seems to me, that that means a person who thinks that way overlooks brain chemistry.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also, young people prone to addictive behaviors have other disorders which disorient them. To exclude the practice of any kind of Faith on a regular basis exacerbates these disorders and troubling obsessive/compulsive addictions. This doesn't mean that people of faith don't have disordered behaviors too, but the added faith dimension can assist them to live life in a more orderly way. AA comes to mind in this regard where the "higher power" is so essential as well as confession to a trusted individual.

TJM said...

Well here is one explanation:

Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College, recently gave a talk, “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness,” in which she described things that we think will make us happy but don’t and things that really do... It also turns out that people who have religious or spiritual beliefs are happier than those who don’t, no matter what their beliefs.

Religious beliefs, she says, “give people a sense of meaning.” It also gives them a social network. “It gives a sense of well being or comfort.”

She also says that people who are believers have a certain mind-set; the power of prayer, the belief in an afterlife, the sense that someone is looking after you, that there is a higher power, that things happen for a reason. This mind-set, she says, helps people make sense of tragedy, struggles and loss. One can believe, “I’ll see this person later,” or “God only gives you what you can handle,” or “There is a silver lining in the suffering.” “Religion,” she says, “is about helping other people and having others looking after you.”

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

From the article: "Financial struggles, a widening income gap and divisive politics are all casting a pall over many Americans, he suggested. "I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide," he said."

My grandparents on both sides, my mother and father, and my aunts and uncles weathered such hardships they are almost unimaginable: deaths of children, poverty, illness, accidents that resulted in loss of limbs...yet not one of them committed suicide or wanted to. My mother was 98 when she died, and she expressed to me a few days before her death that she still wanted to live.

I don't think it's the problems people face that cause suicide. I think it's the pointlessness and hopelessness of a life without God. I learned that truth in my own life experience.

I wonder how long it will take the society to figure out the connection between faith and the will to live. Maybe they won't. But maybe that's why so many young people who have some knowledge of the Traditional Latin Mass gravitate to it --- true Catholic doctrine that demands something of them promises hope.

God bless.

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald-permitting...

For a humorous look at death, or, at least, the funeral business, I offer the following unbelievable routine by Jonathan Winters.

Grandma Maude Frickert and a Day At a Funeral:

Mr. Winters had his audience screaming with laughter.

Only the great Jonathan Winters could have imagined this tremendously creative and different comedy routine.

The routine begins at the :08 second mark.


Mark Thomas