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Goodbye Jesus

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Isolation and Suicide



I remember watching a sociology course a few years ago, and one of the lectures discussed the study of suicide by a man called Emile Durkheim. It covered a lot of ground, but essentially what it boiled down to was that the more isolated you are, the more likely you are to commit suicide. Single people are more likely that people in a relationship, people without kids vs those with kids and so on. The lecture also discussed another finding Durkheim came across: Men commit suicide more often than women.


One of the interesting things the lecturer pointed out was that men's social networks often depend upon their partners. This of course isn't true in every case, but often men's social engagements are organised by their partners and their friends are generally the partners of their partner's friends. Thus, a break up or divorce is incredibly traumatic as their one connection to the outside world has been severed and they're now isolated. You combine this with the fact that men in the west are often raised in a way that "bottles up" their emotions and you have men that even when they do have some type of support network, they can't leverage it due to social norms making pushing against them seeking emotional support.


As I mentioned in a previous post, as I've gotten older I've not kept up with making new friends to replace the ones I've lost. I am now in a position where I literally have no friends. I have a few "acquaintances" that I would call friends in casual conversation, but no one who if shit hit the fan I could call up and expect help when I asked for it. My only form of socialisation is through my partner, and while I don't expect us to break up - I am very aware that I am connected to the rest of the world by a single thread.


Because of this, I have been trying to increase my social activity. I've recently gotten involved in a meet up, and I think I will start attending others as I find them. This isn't enough though, I need to make some meaningful relationships - this is a lot harder. I do hope I make some more friends because I know I need it. I've been seriously depressed before, but not in a very long time. The reason for this is that I now have a meaningful relationship with another person: my partner. This is also why I am aware that if anything every happened to us, I know exactly what is in store for me and I don't want to be in a situation where I am left alone, with no one to really turn to.

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All of my friends are "acquaintances."  I guess my senior year in high school I made some friends, but I had gotten to be very social at that time. That lasted until I got married, which I assume was the fundamental cause of the drive to be social.


I'm still friends with my one of my high school friends... two of them were in my wedding, and one of those I still see about once a year, so I'd say that relationship devolved into just being acquaintances. The other one I've quit following on facebook because I find the things he posts to be abhorrent.


The odd thing is that my wife didn't bring any friends into the relationship. (We've been married 36 years.) I drifted away from my friends, but I don't know that she really had any. Our social circle was gatherings of church people -- pizza on Sunday night, or the occasional time when people were invited to someone's house.


But she suffers from clinical depression, and I don't really feel the need to be around people a whole lot. And we both find crowds to be uncomfortable.


There was one couple at church some years ago that we started hanging out with, and then he got a new job and they moved. (He died of the flu about 3 years ago.)


So now we're dependent upon family, and they all live 120 miles away. It's okay for me, since I work and am around people, but she spends most of her time at home alone. Our kids moved 2000 miles away a couple of years ago, and that's been tough.


We are really isolated. And she's had bouts of being suicidal over the years, even when there were people around. I'm not sure she would ever have the courage to take her own life, and as it is she believes she would wind up in hell. A lot of the time, what she really wishes for is to get sick and die.


We are there for each other. We both had the flu a few weeks ago and we did fine helping each other out. I'm a closet atheist (my wife knows) and she still goes to church, and she could even have some friends as there are some women there she likes, but neither she nor they are the type of people to call up and say "hey, lets go to lunch" on the spur of the moment, so nothing happens.


My reply is longer than your post! Sorry about that. It just got me to thinking, which I suppose is the point.

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