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Death Pulls Ahead

Suicide has replaced car accidents as the leading cause of death through injury in the United States, where the suicide rate rose 15 percent over 10 years. And America is not alone. In Greece the suicide rate among men increased by 24 percent between 2007 and 2009. In Italy the rate related to economic difficulties increased 52 percent between 2005 and 2010.

Why? Although the evidence is inconclusive, most point to the failing economy and its social and psychological consequences: weakening bonds of family and friendship, damaged self-esteem and the shattered hopes of the unemployed. In a year that has already shown the destructive force of firearms, guns are the handiest means for committing suicide. While suicide is generally associated with teenagers and the elderly, since 1999 the rate among those between 35 and 64 rose by nearly 30 percent in the United States, especially among men in their 50s.

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In 12 years and two wars, military suicides hit a record 350 in 2012, surpassing the number of troops killed in Afghanistan. Though medical problems like multiple concussions, sexual or physical abuse, family stress, alcohol, failed relationships and drugs may combine to push the victim over the edge, society’s failure to fulfill its obligation to intervene is even more critical. Government-sponsored job and education programs can give stability to veterans whose living situations are fragile. In the U.S. military, those with symptoms of depression can be better monitored. And with proper leadership, a combined effort of churches, private clubs, universities, schools and the media should coordinate every available means to educate and reach out to these isolated men and women and lovingly pull them back from the brink.

A Bumpy Road to Obamacare

Only six months remain before the most controversial provision of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 takes effect: the mandate that all Americans carry health insurance. Observers are forecasting a bumpy first year. The government must convince state governments highly critical of the plan to set up health care exchanges and expand Medicaid. Young people too must be persuaded to buy health care coverage, even though they may now be in good health. And questions remain about how the new requirement will affect small businesses at a time when the economy is still struggling.

Implementing a major piece of social legislation is a complex process. It is worrisome that three years after the law was adopted, lawmakers are reluctant to make changes. Fine-tuning is a necessary step for any large piece of legislation. Medicare was amended twice following its initial passage, and Congress voted to make changes to President Ronald Reagan’s immigration reform law two years after it was adopted. Yet the fierce debate surrounding Obamacare may preclude any such process of revision. Republicans want to repeal the law, while Democrats are loathe to revisit a heated debate that still divides much of the country. The polarization of Congress may score another casualty.

At the moment, both sides are content to wait. Repub-lican leaders predict calamity in 2014, while the White House hopes that public opinion will gradually turn in its favor as the law takes effect. It may take time for both sides to move beyond the fiery rhetoric, to let political tempers cool and get down to the work of making the legislation work. That process is taking longer than it should, but the goal remains an eminently worthy one: health care coverage for 48 million uninsured Americans and affordable premiums for America’s businesses and families.

Faith in the System

At least in theory, the “chaplain of the month” at the town board meetings in Greece, N.Y., can have any religious affiliation—or none. In practice, since 1999 the vast majority of chaplains have offered prayers rooted firmly in the Christian tradition; about two-thirds have used “uniquely Christian language,” like, say, “Jesus Christ.” This upset two town residents, who argued that the prayers violated the prohibition against government-established religion. They sued.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sympathized with the residents’ complaint, and the judge argued that the practice “must be viewed as an endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint.” The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

These days, lawsuits sometimes seem almost as deeply embedded in the American way of life as the First Amendment. But settling this matter out of court could have offered all parties a satisfactory result—one more in line with the spirit of our nation. Instead of trying to stop the prayer, the residents could have worked with the town to call upon chaplains from various faith backgrounds, as well as nonbelievers, to offer blessings, prayers or just a moment of silence at the meetings. The time, money and effort devoted to the courtroom could have been used to promote interfaith dialogue and sensitivity in the town and to increase awareness of our pluralistic society. Not everyone subscribes to “In God We Trust,” but in a case like this, the town’s residents would do well to have a bit more faith in one another.

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Mike Evans
4 years 10 months ago
All the pundits and criticizers seem well positioned to inflict maximal doubt and maximal problems upon the Obamacare plan to provide medical coverage to so many who lack it. The 'piling on' by folk who have literally no knowledge of how things could and should work is unconscionable. If there is a problem, please propose a fix. The GOP cannot remain deaf to widespread citizen understanding and opinion. Their strategy of sabotaging the health care law at every opportunity must be stopped.
James Collins
4 years 10 months ago
Jay Leno made a cogent comment about Obamacare. He noted that the Republicans in the House had voted to repeal The Affordable Care Act for the umteenth time. He said that they were using the wrong strategy and that they should just change the name to the Tea Party-Patriot Affordavle Care Act and let the IRS scuttle it.
Michael Barberi
4 years 10 months ago
Clearly the criticism from both political parties cause more confusion and divisiveness. Calls for bipartisanship will be both disingenuous and full of more criticism. I have been in the healthcare consulting business for a good part of my career. ObamaCare will fail under its own weight due to a host of issues. The government profoundly underestimated the cost and complexity of implementing such a law. It is June already and most people have no clue what this law is about. The cost of healthcare has been increasing, first due to the initial coverage and policy provision requirements, and then by the underlining causes of healthcare cost increases that this law has not addressed. The government was not prepared to set up and manage many state healthcare insurance exchanges because many states either did not like the mandate, did not have the funds or were fundamentally against it. Unfortunately, the government is not very good at managing anything especially something so new, complex and extensive. The goal of covering 48 million uninsured people is a noble goal. However, the manner in which this is goal was accomplished was anything but bipartisan, and was pushed through congress for a vote when almost no one even read the proposed legislation. More importantly, the overall cost of the program during the vote was about $800 billion. According to the more recent figures the cost now is almost $3 trillion. Does anyone thing that Congress would have voted for ObamaCare given this level of cost? Just wait, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Granted any program will have unforeseen problems that legislation must correct. However, this will not happen with a divided Congress. Once American citizens experience what is in store for them, are confronted with major issues of cost and coverage, have to deal with administrative nightmares and the like, there will be an loud cry to fix or repeal it. Fixing it will cost money and appropriating the money through the legislation process will raise additional problems. We are in for a grand ride of epic proportions. I am for fixing our broken healthcare system, but the path and strategy embraced was not a wise choice. I hope I am wrong.
David Pasinski
4 years 10 months ago
I always appreciate your comments, Mike, and given that this is your specialty, I respect your insights. I had been such a cheerleader for Obamacare, but fel that same anxiety as I have moved more into the health care world over the last year...As you say, I hope I'm wrong, but given my experience with so many uninsured and marginalized folks, I cannot imagine how this is going to work.
Bruce Snowden
4 years 10 months ago
This post deals essentially, some may say not comprehensively enough and perhaps rightly so, with a culture of death in the U.S., regarding youth suicide and other contributing linkage to it and also other factors. TEN is the number, but I don’t remember exactly how it divided into teen suicides and automobile deaths in ONE year at ONE Georgia school. I think it was SIX suicides and FOUR automobile deaths at that one school. What a terrible thing, the increasingly high count of teen suicides – also children killing children, children killings parents, parents killing children, the latter if uterine killings are included, rising well beyond 40,000,000 so far in this Country, since the Supreme Court gave mothers the legal right to kill their not-yet-born children. Truly a Culture of Death and we have not factored in the carnage of war, upon war, giving focus to the many faces of evil! What has happened to our culture to generate so much violent death, youthful suicidal death in particular? Here’s an answer. More lethal than Snow White’s Evil Witch’s deadly brew, the “kettle of death” from which so many young people now drink and those not so young, even some elderly has one essential “ingredient”- stirred by the cackle of many “chickens” now coming home to roost. This unsavory potpourri has been caused primarily, by the societal attempt to relegate God to an obscure position in life, muting as a result the sense of right from wrong, indeed in calling “wrong” “right” such as in the killing of the unborn, cheapening the value of human life and giving the impression that life is a throw-away commodity, like a used baby diaper. Subliminally the subconscious has worked on this lesson (lessons) of death generationally whispered for decades now. That suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem is no deterrent for young people, apparently for any. Of course, there are other factors too that contribute to our Culture of Death, such as undetected, or untreated mental illness, a very important factor. Also the easy dissemination of guns and other weapons, of war, neighborhood war, national war, international war, difficult to regulate in some cases without violating Constitutional rights. In these cases as always, common sense and the common good must mandate the solution. Is there any other way? In short until we, as a society begin to truly love and respect one another as a child of God created in his image and likeness, the youthful carnage will continue, even increase, and killings will continue. Simplistic? What’s the better answer?
Andrew Fulkner
4 years 2 months ago
Now-a-days injury or accident happen in different type of ways like suicide also a accident. Most of the people now do the suicide and it creates a measure issue for the society and the family members, people do the suicide due to many type of causes like depression, mental pressure, so for avoiding these problems always be in cool condition. injury attorney Virginia

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