Sometimes you stumble on a fact that seems to you to belong not just in the headline of a story, but on the national news. Blasting your head off via one of your several household weapons is already wildly rampant all over Utah; quiet yourself for a moment, reader, and consider how beyond-rampant head-blasting is in the tri-country area…

And of course “depression and suicide aren’t talked about [in the region] because of a fear of having guns taken away.”

Surely the masses of men (most are men) who are doing this to themselves understand at this point that the guns they so anxiously cherish are about suicide and sport, with self-defense a distant third. When (to quote the Beatles), it’s all too much, The Gun is Utahan for Death With Dignity.

“Injuries and accidents, keeping your job, having a job tomorrow. It’s so up and down,” said Val Middleton, a former oil and gas safety instructor at Uintah Basin Technical College in Vernal. “The guys don’t eat right typically. No exercise, hard work, long hours, no sleep. That’s what adds up. The divorce rate is high. Really high. The family life is low.”

Val forgot to add alcohol.

Is this corner of Utah the wave of the future? Can freedom also be thought of as the scope to debrain yourself when you can’t stand it anymore? Says here that shitty life + immediately lethal instrument + sudden moment of hopelessness = suicide. If that’s true – and it seems pretty obviously true for hundreds of thousands of people – and if our culture perceives suicide as a bad thing, a sad thing, a thing we should try to prevent – why aren’t we paying any attention to massively suicidal, gunned-up places like the tri-county area? UD proposes that the hypermasculine culture of autonomy in such places makes suicide both inevitable for many and – in the eyes of many – sort of routine. Sort of okay.

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5 Responses to “‘Utah has one of the highest death by suicide rates in the country, currently ranked sixth. According to the Utah Department of Health, suicide rates in the tricounty area [northeast Utah: Daggett, Uintah and Duchesne Counties] are 58% higher than the rest of the state.’”

  1. Ravi Narasimhan Says:

    “why aren’t we paying any attention to [whatever]…”

    I can’t resist answering rhetorical questions. We’re in the final stages of putting up the front. We’ll soon admit that “Where there is no solution, there is no problem” and revert to the frontier/Gilded Age/Ferenginar philosophy that we’re a marketplace, not a society. If you can’t make ends meet or make your life work, get out. Whether ‘out’ is some other country or the undiscovered country isn’t America’s problem.

  2. charlie Says:

    According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the suicide rate for White Americans (15.87) was nearly twice that for African Americans. (6.61) If it was all about terrible lives and prevalence of guns, one would think those numbers would be reversed. Reason it isn’t could be that African Americans don’t have to deal with the ridiculous expectations created by a consumer culture. Most advertising/PR worthless promise of a better life is directed at white consumers, and when reality becomes evident, self worth is destroyed…

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Ravi: I think that cold-bloodedness was kind of always there in American culture/the American economy. These men have clearly internalized the whole if you’re not a raging success you don’t deserve to live thing.

    I looked up Ferenginar – I’m learning things from you! I’m a totally non-science fiction type (though I’ve always liked a good end-of-the-world movie) but Ferenginar is intriguing.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    charlie: I’m assuming black rates are lower because broadly speaking there’s more social life/social support in black communities. Also I suspect the stigma attached to suicide is greater in black communities.

  5. Ravi Narasimhan Says:

    I agree it has always been there and is the underlying national myth. Since the advent of mass entertainment it has been reinforced by film, radio, and television. The attempts to put a veneer on it have failed and soon what little is remaining will peel off.

    Science fiction has done a good job of forecasting a lot of this. In 1995, the Deep Space Nine series from the Star Trek franchise predicted a 2024 San Francisco where the poor are fenced into a “Sanctuary District” so that the rich don’t have to deal with them. This was well before that city became what it is today and where such a possibility isn’t out of the question. Two strong episodes but only in context of the preceding seasons.,_Part_I_(episode)

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