My pleasant, sunny drive to work this morning took an annoying turn when my usual FM radio show hosts started to share their thoughts on a new study about the correlation between coffee consumption and suicide. According to WebMD, people who drank more than four cups of coffee a day were 53 percent less likely to commit suicide than those who drank less than one cup a day. The researchers said that caffeine in coffee can increase neurotransmitters, which can lift a person’s mood and act as a mild antidepressant.
I’m no scientist or expert, but the fact that this study was even conducted irritates me. I’m sure it has some merit, but as someone who lost a parent to suicide, it makes it sound like had my dad just drank more coffee, he would still be here. I am guessing that most other survivors are with me on this. I also wanted to believe that there would be another study out there that showed excess coffee consumption could lead to increased blood pressure or risk for heart attack – just to show how silly something like this is and that death would have come from either route. But, I was actually surprised to find more positive news about its ability to decrease risk of death by these conditions, as well. D’oh.
In any case, the morning show radio hosts had a field day with this, making a variety of insensitive comments and jokes, like “Ahh, so the next time you’re feeling suicidal, just grab a caramel macchiato and you’ll be fine.” I was so disappointed for a few reasons. First, I hate it when someone I know or “like” makes light of suicide. I was bummed that hosts I listen to daily went there and it made me change the channel. Granted, they, too, were discussing how ridiculous this study sounds, but it bothered me they chose to report on it at all. Second, as I alluded to earlier, suicide and the loss of a loved one to it couldn’t be any more serious or deep of a topic. Aside from the life of pain and grief survivors are left with, we know that our loved ones reached such an extreme level of depression that the thought of death was less painful than the thought of living. I struggle to fathom how coffee could have changed things. It’s not like the study showed taking anti-depressants, counseling or something equally as “relevant” had an impact. It was something as trivial as a beverage. Like you, I would do ANYTHING to have my dad back and it just stings to have thoughts run through my head along the lines of, “geez, if only he’d drank more coffee!”
Non-survivors might hear or read this rant and say, “don’t take this so seriously,” or “get over it.” I will after I stop writing and walk away…. But, once you have unfortunately experienced suicide in your life, and you are faced with the burden of questions and “why’s?” and “what could I have done’s,” you hear something like this and it’s just maddening.
I’m not sure if there’s an actual increase in suicide risk studies or if my ears are just perking up to it now that I’m affected, but I felt just as angry recently when news came out about the risk of suicide being revealed through people’s Facebook posts. I didn’t hyperlink the first article I read about this, which opened with “If you’re thinking about killing yourself, your Facebook posts might give you away.” Ugh! What a complete moron who wrote such a thing. Obviously, they have not been impacted by loss. I was irate. But, what it led to was information on The Durkheim Project, which monitors the social channels of U.S. veterans to log commonly-used phrases to watch for correlations with suicide. While I applaud any efforts to reduce the risk, the media had another fun pass at this – as evidenced by the way they chose to report on it.
As a survivor of suicide, I know that I am going to face reminders and innuendos every day – I recently wrote about this. My skin continues to thicken, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to feel disheartened by trivial news or the media or public’s insensitive reaction to it.
Image courtesy of fatmanspeedy.deviantart.com