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Where should society look to turn people from suicide?

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

In a recent issue of the Mercury, there were two apparently unrelated detailed articles dealing with related issues, namely, the marked in-crease in the rate of suicides in Kansas and the decrease in funding for mental health ser-vices.

Suicide is among the leading causes of death for several age groups. Why the decline in support for mental health services? Have we promised too much? Not addressed is the issue of prejudice regarding suicidal persons. Largely in the background are themes of such per-sons as being weak-willed, cowardly, irresponsible — per-haps it would be good to get rid of them.

I recall a large-scale quest-ionnaire study of veterans that indicated that suicidal thoughts are rare but more common than the category “never.”

Sigmund Freud in his earlier writing referred to Eros, a love and life force, and Thanatos, a death force. The relationship between these is no longer a matter of concern in the mental health literature, perhaps because of their origins in Greek mythology. They are not au courant with the current genre of health with its emphasis on the behavioral, medical and scientific aspects of the human condition.

A death instinct such as Thanatos might offer some explanation, particularly among those age groups where hope, optimism thoughts of future potential might contrast with a “no exit” philosophy.

An emerging thought is to what extent there is a transcendent Thanatos evident in our lead-ership. Is our society so in-fluenced?

E. Robert Sinnett
Licensed Psychologist
1625 Leavenworth St.

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