The demographics of suicide

Anthony Bourdain hung himself today in Paris, France. This tragedy has brought the issue of suicide back into the mainstream, where it will be quickly forgotten again, probably by tomorrow.
A new report shows that the suicide rate has climbed nearly 30% in the last 20 years.

There is a reason why suicide, eventhough it's victims dwarf murder victims, is largely ignored.
It's the demographics, as I explained before.

suicide.PNG

Males kill themselves at about four times the rate for females, and represent 78.3% of all U.S. suicides. White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.

But it's not just a matter of gender and race.
There's an even more important demographic that explains the indifference to this public health crisis.

The study found that the suicide rate was ten times higher in men of lower socioeconomic status than in affluent men.

So poor men are killing themselves. No one who doesn't know those victims personally will ever care (as also proven by the victims of all our wars).
Now if wealthy people were offing themselves, that would be another story.

One factor is the increasing “‘feminisation’ of employment (shift towards a more service-oriented economy),” which may cause men to feel like they have less room in the professional world. The authors write that “men in lower socioeconomic groups now have less access to jobs that allow for the expression of working-class masculinity, and have thus lost a source of masculine identity and ‘pride.’” Yet losing a job may still make men feel like a “double failure, since they are unable to meet two central demands of the masculine role: being employed; and ‘providing’ for the family.”

Another reason that this suicide epidemic will continue to be ignored is that 100% of the blame is put onto the victim. The idea that the victim was in his right mind is never, and can never, be considered.
But when you have one small slice of the population accounting for a majority of suicides, the logical conclusion isn't mental illness. The logical conclusion is that outside forces are causing this epidemic.
54% of suicide victims weren't diagnosed with a mental illness.

For instance, black men account for a disproportionately large percentage of murder victims and prison inmates. We can either blame black men for their fates (i.e. that they are all thugs), or admit that something is seriously wrong with the current system (i.e. there is racism in the system).
The same is true for poor, white men. Is mental illness rampant with poor white men, but not wealthy white men? Or are there flaws in our economic/political system that are being ignored?
Which is more likely?

Most experts think that the number of suicide victims is dramatically undercounted. Consider suicide-by-cop as one example.

Profile of Suicide by Cop Subjects: American Association of Suicidology (2014)[11]

95% were male, 5% female
54% of men were unemployed
29% of men did not have housing

We could all keep pretending that each of these tragedies were isolated from each other, and that they were all mentally ill.
Or that we are witnessing an obvious structural flaw in our economic/political system that has real world consequences.
What will it take for general society to admit this?

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what about Big Pharma?

The suicides this week of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have cast fresh light on the need for more effective treatments for major depression, an area that has been largely abandoned by big pharmaceutical companies.
The news shocked fans and came as U.S. health authorities reported a sharp spike in suicide rates across the country since the beginning of the century. They called for a comprehensive approach to addressing depression and other contributing factors.

With the availability of numerous cheap generic antidepressants, many of which offer only marginal benefit, developing medicines for depression is a tough sell.

Most suicide victims are poor, so this approach is a dead-end (no pun).

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21 users have voted.

@gjohnsit have "suicidal thoughts" as a side effect anyway, so even if they could really do anything pharmaceutically I don't see that making a difference there. I have not read any details of either Spade or Bourdain but I can't help but wonder if one or both of them may have been on anti-depressants already. I mean hell, don't we have the highest per-capita use of them already?

I have been on their drugs and while for me they help with some of the irritability, they don't seem to make me any less "depressed." They aren't a magic bullet and I don't like taking them. And with the current state of the world, I don't need some pill to help me have thoughts once in a while about an escape from the horror of today.

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gulfgal98's picture

@lizzyh7 I have a relative via marriage who had a drinking problem. He finally gave up drinking when his family confronted him. Then depression set in and so he went to a psychiatrist who prescribed very popular anti-depressant for him. They are highly addictive and he became an addict. He could not get off them even after checking into rehab because of the side effects of going off them. I am not sure anti-depressants are the best answer to curing a societal problem. But they are what the pharmaceutical industry wants. To be honest, I am not sure what the answer is.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

snoopydawg's picture

@gulfgal98

Depression, sadness, anger, etc, and when they no longer get to do that then they start feeling what they were trying to hide from.

The best remedy that works for lots of people is talk therapy, but the insurance companies don't want to have to pay for it. They'd rather people take drugs even though they are often more costly. I think that they colluded with the drug companies on that.

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15 users have voted.

Sessions would have taken Jesus away from his homeless refugee parents

detroitmechworks's picture

@snoopydawg before I properly started medicating my PTSD with pot.

There's also a cultural aspect there. Soldiers are practically expected to be drunks, and the constant "Safety Briefings" we got before every weekend just drove home how nobody was getting in trouble for being a raging alcoholic.

Pot though... the one thing that helps PTSD for me? If I had smoked even one joint while I was in I'd have been out with ZERO pension.

Yes, it's a societal sickeness, and the isolation that many feel from society for being considered a threat is palpable. Again, it seems to be another divide and conquer strategy taken ad absurdem. Yes, powerful males often abuse their power in horrible ways. However, the constant social media messages that YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG in every interaction takes a mental toll. Even if you think and KNOW you are not being a jerk, the fear permeates because to your view almost every other male is a perverted Asshole. And so the thought becomes not "How Can I help and fix this?" But instead "Why should I bother?"

The logical end of that train of thought is of course suicide.

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13 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

I found it very intriguing.

@detroitmechworks "Yes, it's a societal sickeness, and the isolation that many feel from society for being considered a threat is palpable. Again, it seems to be another divide and conquer strategy taken ad absurdem. Yes, powerful males often abuse their power in horrible ways. However, the constant social media messages that YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG in every interaction takes a mental toll. Even if you think and KNOW you are not being a jerk, the fear permeates because to your view almost every other male is a perverted Asshole. And so the thought becomes not "How Can I help and fix this?" But instead "Why should I bother?"

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detroitmechworks's picture

@SnakeBehindMe There's a lot of push back already on the points I would want to make in society in general, which are commonly considered "Entitled". I have been repeatedly told that this is "Not my time to speak" but rather time to listen, and I'm trying very hard to do exactly that.

(Yes, I'm also aware that this is a great deal due to MSM propaganda. However, I am not doing it because of the propaganda, but rather personal requests from friends.)

Give me some time to think about it, because if I do an essay on the subject, I want to be fair, and also address the critics of my points equitably.

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7 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

@detroitmechworks

Considering the trajectory of things, though, I think your perspective will still be more than relevant once the official listening period has come to an end.

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@lizzyh7 @lizzyh7
people I know well tell me they felt very peaceful smoking marijuana. I'd try that before the junk from Big Pharma.

What I have tried is over the counter Magnesium Citrate. It really perks you up if you are Magnesium deficient. Careful with the dose. It is a laxative. High concentrations are used to prepare you for colonoscopy. But try one or two tablets if the world looks blah. Or reefer if you have a source. But it's OK to drive on Magnesium.

EDIT:
The world still looks crappy, but you just don't care.

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detroitmechworks's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness It is NOT a magic bullet and anybody who says it is is a liar.

Since pretty much everybody's biochemistry is different, It requires experimentation. I, for example, have nearly the opposite reaction to many strains that most other users have. (Indicas energize me, Sativas put me to sleep... but not uniformly, and there's a definite scent to the "Right" pot for me. In addition, when my Depression hits fully I need a small percentage of CBD to balance.)

If you do choose to try, give yourself time for working out what works for you. It can take a few different tries to find the right one. (I got lucky the first time, then due to illegality wondered why it wasn't working for a while. )

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9 users have voted.

You can't expect to wield Supreme Military power, just cause some corporate tosser lobbed a contract at you!

@detroitmechworks @detroitmechworks
That indicates a diagnosis of ADD. Many people disparage "drugging children into submission", but ADD drugs are AMPHETAMINES. If you give someone Benzedrine, Dexidrine, Adderall or Ritalin to someone and they calm down, there is something weird with their biochemistry. I can attest that a cup of strong black coffee mellows out my grandson.

And Opioids do nothing for me. No euphoria and Tylenol with Codeine does not give me any more pain relief than plain Tylenol. I've stopped arguing with docs about this. I just take their prescription and buy a bottle of generic acetaminophen. It works just as well. Other people tell me it's a "happy pill" that sends them soaring.

Everybody's biochemistry is different.

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9 users have voted.
Wink's picture

Emporiums to start
@The Voice In the Wilderness
popping up on every corner now that the Feds are about to relax marahooch restrictions so states can write their own legislation. Will bring the hippies back to downtown.

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the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

gulfgal98's picture

Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and the younger sister of Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. All of these suicides were by hanging, which I find quite odd. Hanging comes in number 3 after poisoning or firearm suicides for women. I cannot help but think there is something very odd that most of the recent prominent suicides have been by hanging. Robin Williams, L'Wren Scott, Chris Cornell, and Chester Bennington all hung themselves too.

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24 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~CantStoptheMacedonianSignal

@gulfgal98
I could shoot myself in the temple. I could OD or take a soporific poison. I couldn't eat Drano or hang myself, or drown.

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@gulfgal98 I highly doubt these are suicides. All were involved in child abuse/sexual abuse organizations. The commonality of the method seems a message to me.

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Wink's picture

how does one
@Bring Back Civics
hang themselves via doorknob? How does that work, exactly?
It only takes 2 seconds off a five story balcony. Not much time to think about the splat.
Hanging by doorknob is very strange.

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4 users have voted.

the little things you can do often are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

@Wink until you hit and that's quick. Well, you have the five seconds of primal primate terror of falling. Still, doorknob?

As hinted above (by gulfgal?) Someone else can hang you from a doorknob, say by holding you down with a short rope. Someone bigger and stronger.

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thanatokephaloides's picture

Another reason that this suicide epidemic will continue to be ignored is that 100% of the blame is put onto the victim. The idea that the victim was in his right mind is never, and can never, be considered.

emphasis in original

Everyone who suffers any sort of chronic pain considers suicide, often on a daily basis or even more frequently. Any chronic pain sufferer who tells you otherwise is lying. And these folks are in their right mind; they just want the pain to go away.

Colorado, along with several other States, now allows certain physicians to prescribe medications to end the lives of those whose pain has become so intractable that these lives are unlivable.

The idea of rational suicide, repugnant as it may be to certain Christians, is beginning to take hold in Western culture. And it's about time.

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23 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

@thanatokephaloides @thanatokephaloides
the first method I would try, since I have a KCl prescription (lowers blood pressure - too many and your heart stops beating), would be to swallow the whole big bottle, washed down with wine or brandy. Hanging? Ugh! Slitting wrists - Ugh!

I understand stopping pain, especially if your condition is incurable, but deliberately painful death indicates to me a feeling that the victim deserves to be hurt.

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7 users have voted.

The Intercept has an article describing a recent CDC study on gun access and suicide. The issue of guns also gets into the causes of suicide, and people start focusing on the ways people kill themselves, and ignoring the causes like poverty, etc. Another example are Indian farmers.

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15 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Or is this a combination of how bad it is plus the issues that have always been the cause of them? Is there any way to find out?

As Lizzyh stated, anti depressants have the side effects of suicidal ideation. Been there, got the t-shirt. Prozac was being described as the best thing since sliced bread and doctors were prescribing it like crazy without knowing about that little side effect. Bet that drug company knew though. Furthest thing from my mind one morning driving to work and the thought popped up out of nowhere. Scared the Hell out of me. As it did the next time and the next time and the..... until I refused to take it any longer.

I can imagine the pain people were in when they finally decide that they have had enough. I have that t-shirt too. But whenever someone does the deed you'll always hear someone say that "they were very selfish for doing it." It's obvious that they have never walked with one foot over the edge while trying to remain balanced. It's not weakness that causes people to lose their balance, it's unbearable and unrelenting pain. Usually emotional, but physical pain can also push people too far And gjohnsit is right about this:

The idea that the victim was in his right mind is never, and can never, be considered.

Society tells men that they are weak if they can't handle their demons and seek help through therapy or medications. I think that the bravest thing people can do is admit that they need help.

You are right about this death will be forgotten quickly just like our shock at school shootings are forgotten until the next one happens. When was the last time we read about a veteran taking his own life? Was it when Thomas Young wrote to Bush to let him know that he was going to do it? If so, then that was a decade ago. Talk about something being totally ignored!

Be at peace, Anthony. You are already missed by many including me.

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Sessions would have taken Jesus away from his homeless refugee parents

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

...the past tense of 'hang', when speaking of the suicide/execution method, is in fact "hanged".

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@The Liberal Moonbat

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Pluto's Republic's picture

Universal Basic Income.

I know it sounds simplistic, but sometimes cures are just that.

When I did psychological research for a time, I took an unauthorized step to help me speed my way through triage. I would ask each subject: "Do you have any problems that $100,000 will not solve?" It was very rare to hear a "yes." That happened maybe twice. Those were people with organic mental illnesses.

UBI allows people to escape not all, but most types of situational mental illness. It allows them the dignity to re-engage with society and their community and to become productive.

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11 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic
UBI can easily be perverted into a trap. Make the amount too low and it'll be used against us - for the poor it will be eaten up by increased unavoidable (for example housing) costs, for the middle class there will be pressures (even outright coercion) to simply spend the "stimulus". The result will turn out to be an increase in inequality and an enrichment of the uberwealthy, with the corruption and opresssion that entails - exactly the opposite of what we need.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

Pluto's Republic's picture

@doh1304

It is being perfected. The basic amount received is keyed to the cost of purchasing the most basic human rights for the poorest recipient, as declared by the UN General Assembly in 1948. The US provides their citizens with far fewer of these rights than any of the other 40 developed nations.

Americans and their children are denied freedom from hunger. Many families and individuals are denied access to affordable shelter. Many are forced to go without proper health care or dental care. Those who need it often go without mental health care or prenatal care. American infants and birthing mothers die at a higher rate than those in other developed nations.

Unemployment insurance is restricted to an arbitrary number that once reached, cruelly ends regardless of circumstances. The families of the unemployed, the underemployed, and the inadequately paid then suffer the calamities of food insecurity and eviction. Most Americans have been robbed of any sense of economic security in their lives, which is the key to domestic tranquility. In a capitalist society, economic insecurity devours people's souls and leads to crime, suffering, violence, and premature death. Women and children are often forced into lives of brutal violence and other abuses because they do not have the money to escape and live on their own. Many American children are so badly damaged mentally, they have no hope for themselves and can only look forward to semi-permanent incarceration, at the world's highest rates.

Americans are more vulnerable to catastrophe than the populations of the other forty developed nations. They suffer the greatest deprivations and are punished more brutally. They are the only developed nation where the government "legally" kills and tortures its own citizens. UBI keyed to human rights will end much of this suffering in the US and it costs less than current means-tested programs that are short-sighted and ineffective. With UBI, communities become more prosperous because residents have more to spend, which creates more community jobs and opportunities. UBI tests show that people tend to work more and save more with UBI. Parents also take more time to take care of their children, creating better citizens for the future. A dults return to school to learn more in greater numbers. There is certainly less social desperation and less crime. I don't think it is beyond our intelligence to focus on these productive outcomes and promote them. Bad behavior has less of an impact in societies when UBI is in place, and people have greater opportunities to improve their lives and fulfill their true potential.

If there is a future, this is what it will look like. We should all be talking about UBI more and making room for its existence. We've been robbed of the bounty of the civilization that we inherited from those who came before us. We deserve so much more. It starts here.

So, let us fail at this one great undertaking before we passively accept and succumb to the undeniable failure that we currently exhibit as a society and a nation. We can then blame our looming extinction on our misguided attempt to provide Universal Basic Income and human dignity to all citizens, something that we can afford many times over and something that is a boon to our own economy. If we cannot succeed at bringing an evolutionary level of decency to the human experience, it makes the ultimate annihilation of our irredeemably savage existence much less tragic.

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@Pluto's Republic
But the only attempt at a UBI like program that I've heard of was the Canadian example from the 70s. (which was successful as you've described)There was a British initiative - replacing the dole with a 900 pound "UBI" that was essentially my criticism, and a referendum in Switzerland that sounded legitimate but didn't pass. Please inform me of how it's been perfected. What's to stop (in America, the land of the greedy wealthy and corrupt "public servants") from simply not granting enough to do more than transfer the money to the wealthy by raising the cost of living by the same amount as the UBI? I worked for a taxi company for 30 years, and whenever the city allowed us to raise our prices the companies immediately raised our gate fees by more than our price hike.
I have spoken many times of a similar idea, raising the personal deduction to say $25,000 and making it refundable. Call it Guaranteed Minimum Income. It (or something like it) answers all the problems you so correctly cite without the inflationary (evil) temptations.

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3 users have voted.

A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

Pluto's Republic's picture

@doh1304

And certainly you are not going to be kept abreast of the gathering change from inside the belly of the capitalist beast. UBI is the darling of the top innovators and elite entrepreneurs in the US and throughout the world, but it is held in the black space that fills the mind of the US media, never to be mentioned.

Wikipedia is a starting place.

BIEN will provide the announcements of progress.

Fight the idea as hard as you can. It now exists more fully than we do — for our small, selfish time here that sent the world retrograde, is quickly passing.

It already happened.

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4 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic
is something like the Quebec program https://basicincome.org/news/2018/01/canada-quebec-implementing-means-te... you have to index the bemefits to income: look at these situations/consequences:
0 income/ $10k benefit - worthlessly inadequate, not even enough to survive. The English plan I mentioned, nothing but a punative replacement for welfare. no income/ $25k benefit - recipient will go to school or start a cottage business, or quit a minimum wage job and take up the piano, or demand a decent wage or threaten to quit.(the 70s Manitoba test, except that the results would be slightly different if the program was guaranteed to be perminant) someone making $30k: same - they will either improve their life or live on the UBI and have a better lifem but only if the UBI were large enough. $90k/$10k benefit. Will think that the benefit will "solve all their problems" (this is a personal friend who "forgot" to pay her taxes for 5 years) Such a person will pay (back taxes) credit card debt (or a mortgage, let's be fair) then go on a spending spree (there are always things you "need") and wind up right back in debt.
See? Too small a benefit will be counterproductive, but a sufficient amount will be life changing for the needy, but probably destructive for the upper middle class. I don't want to live in a worls where I make $5000 and the lucky people make $70k, but it would be just as bad to make $25k when "everyone" makes $100k - and the cost of living demands it. My suggestion to use the tax code instead of the inefficient, inadequate "welfare" system is simply an admission of the failings of America.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

Hawkfish's picture

@doh1304

It puts a floor on Labour costs. We still need to deal with public assistance, though for those who can’t or shouldn’t work.

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We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

One factor is the increasing “‘feminisation’ of employment (shift towards a more service-oriented economy),” which may cause men to feel like they have less room in the professional world.

Wow, what a condescending sentence.

I love how the shift to a low-paid service economy is feminizing it. And then there's "may cause men to feel like they have less room in the professional world." No, they do have less room--and not because of women in the work force, either.

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7 users have voted.

The part of John Edwards could easily be played by a burnt out light bulb.
--strollingone

The issue is patriotism. You've got to get back to your planet and stop the Commies. All it takes is a few good men.
--Q

Morire de cara sol.
--Jose Marti

Mark from Queens's picture

After Trip to Gaza, Anthony Bourdain Accused World of Robbing Palestinians of Their Basic Humanity.

I've liked him since his rough and tumble divulging in "Kitchen Confidential." He really exposed all that goes in behind that back swivel door of restaurants that all-too-often remains obscured, especially in these past few decades of food worship and eating for sport popularized by the Food Channel. I walked away appreciating many aspects, the high intensity of the work in very hot conditions to the great admiration he had for migrant workers from places like Mexico and Bangladesh, of whom he makes pretty clear make possible almost all of American dining these days.

Since he's become this huge celebrity I stopped following him. There was, however, a really poignant segment I happen to see with him sitting around a table with renegade chefs in Paris. And they were all talking about how so much of cuisine has been hijacked by catering to the wealthy, therefore making so much of it unavailable to the masses. These chefs were taking back the idea of making good cooking available to the 99% in ways that were fulfilling to both proprieters and customers, with one way being small, communal style dining. It was fascinating and inspiring. Like being at an Occupy meeting or something. Wish I could find it.

Thanks Anthony.

There's so much to say about suicide; it's something that always gets swept under the rug in America, whether it's vets or the economically disenfranchised or mentally ill folks - all subjects too taboo for our soft and don't-want-to-be-inconvenienced culture.

I would add that there's been a spate of NYC cab drivers who have been committing suicide at alarming rates because of the impact of Uber/Lyft. Started to write it up as an essay. But like everything else for me personally I just don't have the time with the relentless responsibilities of being a stay at home Dad.

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6 users have voted.

(thirty three and a third at TOP)

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

zoebear's picture

@Mark from Queens

I would add that there's been a spate of NYC cab drivers who have been committing suicide at alarming rates because of the impact of Uber/Lyft.

I haven't been back to NYC in 5 years and had no idea the impact Uber/Lyft has had on the taxi cab industry. I also can't imagine why anyone living in Manhattan would go to the trouble of ordering a car thru an app when they can walk to the curb and lift up their arm. Rush hour not withstanding.

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"World is a multi-dimensional reality. At lower levels, it is full with unconsciousness and competitiveness. At higher level, it is full of beauty, bliss and divinity. Focus on higher dimensions"
~Amit Ray

Hawkfish's picture

@zoebear @zoebear

I refuse to use ride share apps because of the worker abuse factor, but I have also heard from far too many non-white New Yorkers that cabbies would regularly veer away when they saw the race of the fare to think that everything was peachy.

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We may find that we’re all alone
In the dream of the proud.
- Pink Floyd, On the Turning Away

@Mark from Queens
It's hard to imagine it without the wall to wall yellow taxis.

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Beware the bullshit factories.