Do you feel safe in New York City? You should. Last year, NYC’s murder rate dropped to its lowest level since 1963 — the first year the NYPD started the tally. In January, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city logged 328 murders in 2014, a five percent drop since the prior year. Grand larcenies, burglaries, robberies and rapes also dipped. There was plenty of back patting to go around.
Not lauded by de Blasio? The city’s ever-increasing suicide rate. This is perhaps because suffers of suicidal thoughts often shield themselves under a veil of silence. Their deaths rarely make headlines.
But, sometimes they do. This week came the news that Dell’s Maraschino Cherries owner Arthur Mondella took his own life in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It remains unclear exactly why Mondella allegedly took his own life, but suddenly the issue was brought to the forefront. Similar to the shock suicide of famed Hollywood comedian Robin Williams last year, the story has people talking, and asking; Why?
In New York City, the rate of suicide is 25 percent higher than murder, according to The Samaritans of New York, the city’s 24-hour suicide prevention hotline. The organization fielded 83,000 calls from distressed citizens last year – its largest record in history. It captured additional staggering statistics: Suicide is the third highest cause of death for 15-24 year-olds and nearly 30,000 high school students try to kill themselves every year.
We live in difficult times and New Yorkers are a distressed bunch. Many of us face fear and anxiety over a litany of concerns from meeting medical needs to feeding our families. Winter sometimes ushers in the last strike. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, affects the mental health of many people during the fall and winter months. SAD is a subtype of major depression that is characterized by hopelessness, worthlessness, low energy, loss of interest, trouble sleeping, and more. It’s hard to look beyond the incessant snowstorms and nor’easters that can feel endless.
Certainly a decreased murder rate is something to be celebrated. Our police force, politicians and community should come together to continue to decrease this gap. At the same time, let’s not carry on the silence over suicide. Let’s not forget those who aren’t seeking headlines, but are calling our helplines.