Recent studies show that suicide rates in our country are at an all time high. In 2015, suicide was the second leading cause of death between the ages of 15 and 24. It was the third leading cause for those aged 10 and 14.
To some, these statistics may come as a shock, but to many, they are no surprise. With 121 Americans taking their own lives each day, and a person dying by suicide every 12.8 minutes, the majority of Americans have been touched by the effects of suicide in some way.
Of those who die by suicide, more than 90% have a diagnosable mental disorder. While it is commonly known that mental illness is a common risk factor for suicide, drug and alcohol addiction also can increase the risk. In fact, those struggling with addiction may actually be more likely to commit suicide.
According the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in three people who die from suicide are under the influence of drugs. Another study shows that alcoholism is a stronger predictor of suicide than diagnosed mental illness.
Our team at Alo House Recovery Centers is no stranger to the realities of suicide. Many of our staff members’ lives have been deeply affected by friends and family members who have taken their own lives, and some have experienced the struggle with suicide first-hand.
Program Founder, Bob Forrest, was touched by suicide at a very young age.
Here is His Story About Suicide
“My dad grew up in severe poverty in Minnesota. He got his first job at age 11 so he could help his family with money during The Great Depression. It was 1932 and people were starving. In spite of this, he put himself through school and graduated with a degree in business and moved his entire family out to California. I was born when he was 43.
My dad experienced trauma and a fairly sad childhood, but I think he tried to make up for that as an adult. He went from living in a three room shack with 12 people to his son having a color TV in his bedroom in the 70s… that’s over one generation. That sort of thing doesn’t happen today.
He was a big man, a real larger-than-life type of guy. He drank a lot, he smoked a lot, he laughed a lot, and he golfed a lot. He wanted to be full and vibrant because he knew what it was like to be down and out. I was always enamored by him and thought of him as a real-life Huck Finn. I grew up around what is really possible in America. Or at least what was. I was raised in a different generation.
When I was in third grade we moved from LA to Palm Springs. I had grown up in an urban environment, a real inner city kid. I was always ready to fight, always in the defensive mode, and the kids didn’t know what to make of me, so they ostracized me.
One day after school, I told my dad that I was having problems. When I was done talking he said, ‘You need to look at what you’re doing to make these kids feel like they don’t want to hang out with you.’
There I was, in fourth grade and my dad was explaining the complexities of human interaction with me, trying to help me understand why this was happening in my world. My dad pointed out that I was the one who needed to change the situation. He always told me, ‘Everyone pays taxes and no one likes it.’ I think that was his way of saying, ‘You get what you get and you don’t get upset.’
In 1974, my dad was one of the first people to have an open heart surgery. He came out of the hospital a month later and he wasn’t the same person who went in. He had all his bowels removed and couldn’t drink, smoke, golf, or boat… he couldn’t eat salt or meat. So many of the things that made life worth living were taken away from him.
On top of that, his best friend Curly had a heart attack. Even though my dad had become more introverted and wasn’t talking as much, he and Curly would go for walks all the time. They were happy together, and would talk and joke about their situations.
A few weeks later, I woke up to the phone ringing, my mom answered the phone and screamed. It was Curly’s wife, Dot. We all drove over to Curly’s house and when I ran up the driveway, I tripped over Curly’s dead body. He’d shot himself in the heart.
From that moment on my dad didn’t exist. He stopped taking all his meds. I would wake up in the middle of the night and he’d just be watching me sleep. Shortly after he had a stroke and died. He had lost all will to live. Only the strong and well prepared survive… the world is ruthless.”
Speaking With Logan Paul About Suicide
Alo House does more than help clients overcome drug and alcohol addiction. We also work with clients with dual diagnosis, some of whom have attempted suicide, and many who have contemplated it. Not to mention the kind of hard-core drug use we see a lot of today, which is effectively a form of suicidality.
So when YouTube star and social media influencer, Logan Paul, connected with Alo House in an effort to learn as much as possible about suicide, mental illness, and ways to immerse himself in the solution, Bob agreed to speak with him.
Several weeks ago, Logan shared an infamous video on his channel revealing a man who had hanged himself in the Aokigahara Forest in Japan, also known as the “Suicide Forest.” After severe backlash, the video was removed and Logan set out to rectify his mistake by creating a suicide awareness campaign. This is where Alo House came in.
After a 90-minute interview full of hard-hitting questions asked by Bob, it became clear that Logan’s actions were born out of naivety and inexperience. While the hurt created by the video cannot be erased, Logan is now on a mission to educate himself about suicide and provide hope for those suffering.
His most recent video, Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow, features insight from leaders like Bob Forrest and Don Draper, Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and proves the power of second chances.
We are proud to be a part of Logan’s mission to speak a new word about suicide and spread awareness among those who follow him. It is abundantly clear that many don’t understand the realities of this very real, tragic problem in our world, and we stand behind all movements to create change. We respect Logan for recognizing the desperate need for conversation about suicide and for using his own short-sightedness as a platform.
In a world where people are hesitant to admit their faults, this takes great courage.
In addition, we echo the sentiments written by Bob Forrest on this topic — that parenting plays a key role in the struggles of our younger generation. We encourage today’s parents to reflect on their role in their children’s lives and prepare them for society, rather than solely protecting them. Read more of Bob’s thoughts on the interview and parenting.
We believe in second chances. We believe in renewal, healing, and recovery. We believe that mistakes are meant to be learned from, not dwelled upon. And it is our mission to be a part of forward motion and growth whenever and wherever possible.