The people's voice of reason

Tears and Laughter: We've Got To Get Sober About Suicide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last month announcing that for the third consecutive year the life expectancy of Americans is dropping.

Another statistic that emerged from the report was the fact that more Americans died last year than any other year since such findings started being counted – over a hundred years ago. That alone is disturbing, but if you consider why this is happening it becomes even more concerning.

The reason so many of us are dying and the reason life expectancy in America is dropping is because of drug overdoses and suicides. It isn’t elderly people who have lived full, productive lives that are passing away. It is young and middle-aged men and women in the 25 to 54 age range who are giving in and giving up.

There are three main forms of opioids that are causing overdoses – prescription medication, heroin, and fentanyl. The suicide rate is up 33 percent since 2016.

We have a church on every corner in most towns. Even in rural areas there is a church every few miles. You might not roll by a gas station or find a bucket of chicken, but you can find a church. Yet people have no hope.

And the CDC didn’t follow their report up with a pep talk. They didn’t say if we can make it through December they expect next year to be better. In fact they said the opposite. They expect the trend to continue.

I want to appeal to all of the missionary groups that go down to villages in South America and give out Bibles and buy their little trinkets and wares…that’s awesome. That is really commendable. But I humbly ask you to turn a portion of your attention more towards home. There may not be any unnamed tribes roaming around mostly naked in any of our National Forests, but it seems America may be in need of a little Jesus.

Every life that is snuffed out because of an overdose or is intentionally taken affects another realm of sons, and daughters, and loved ones. There are very few families at this point that have not been touched by drugs or suicide…or both.

Directly beneath the tier of those struggling with opioid addiction and

suffering from extreme despair, is another tier of people who are one disappointment or set back from advancing. Consider the people who are relying on something to get them through already – it may not be an opioid, but a substance or drug of some sort, or alcohol – and a number of others who are trying through any means necessary to manage depression. So many people are looking for a way to escape the pressure of life for a little while.

In researching for this column, I kept looking for a solution. I could see the facts, all of the findings, and the reasons why the statistics are as they are. People are struggling to keep up financially and socially. People feel like they are on hamster wheels – they are running with all they’ve got trying to keep up, or catch up, and never progressing, just spinning.

The CDC offered no solution. There is no quick fix. No vaccine. They simply stated that overdose awareness is necessary, and that suicide has to be treated as a public health issue.

I’m worried about us…check on the people you love.

Amanda Walker is a contributor with, Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, Alabama Gazette, and the Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at or at



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