Suicide involves the act of taking one’s own life and is major social problem affecting today’s society. This life-ending action cannot be simply explained by one theory because there is no set answer as to why some people start down this path. However, the now-versus-future pattern is exemplified in many cases of suicide and helps to explain why some feel that this may be their only option at the time. Much of the research on this this topic helps to support this reasoning and further analysis of the material regarding this topic may shed new light on the subject.
Firstly, the now-versus-future pattern is a common pathway of reasoning among suicidal people because they regard suicide as a tradeoff. For instance, “they are willing to trade away their future and all its potential joys in order to gain immediate relief,” from their current misery (Baumeister & Bushman, p. 141, 2017). This is because suicidal people are more focused on the distress of the now and therefore lack the foresight of a potentially better future. This is a common occurrence in a variety of suicides as one’s reasoning pertains their current circumstances, that seem unpleasant at the time, with no hope of improvement in the future. Examples of this thought process in those who commit suicide can be seen in those who have lost their job, gone from wealthy to poor, or even students who have received lower grades than usual and drastic changes in politics or the economy. These are life circumstances than can drastically affect one’s mindset and make them feel as if there is no way to escape, other than death, their current unpleasantness. This is also due to discrepancies in what one expects from life and the reality of the situation they are in due to the immediate dread that is associated with their life at the moment (Baumeister & Bushman, p. 141, 2017). Now, research has shown that suicide rates in the United States have drastically increased in the last couple of years. A study from 2016 reported that suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and that “suicide claims more lives than traffic accidents and more than twice as many as homicides” (“Sentinel Event Alert”, p. 1). These astounding statics represent the undoubtedly growing social problem that suicide has become in recent years and how common it is. While the reasons as to why one may choose to commit suicide may vary, the now-versus-future pattern plays a role in much of the reasoning behind it. For example, other research has studied the correlation of the United States housing crisis and suicide rates. This is another example of the now-versus-future pattern because the immediate impact of the foreclosures across the country was a reasoning behind many of the suicides at the time. Researchers found that “increases in within-state total foreclosure rates were significantly associated with total suicide rates, and the effects of real estate-owned (REO) foreclosures on suicide were stronger than total foreclosure” (Jones & Pridemore, p. 173, 2016). Since the process of a foreclosure can be overwhelming and to be never-ending, suicide rates, at the time, increased. Thus, research supports and suggests the theory of the now-versus-future pattern greatly pertains to many cases of suicide.
As one can see, suicide is a prominent issue in this country and is most certainly associated with the now-versus-future pattern. People who commit suicide feel trapped in an unhappy present and feel that there is nothing better coming. Therefore, death by suicide is not a punishment, but viewed as an escape from their seemingly unescapable misery. It may seem unconceivable to some that one would commit suicide because of life circumstances that are due to change or get better eventually, but it is clear that the mindset of those with suicidal thoughts is clouded by their hopelessness. Drastic life changes make most people feel sad or depressed in some way because it is simply in human nature to react to the thing’s life throws one’s way. However, some are not as capable as others to pick themselves up and look ahead because they are so distraught by what they are faced with. These people become so focused and narrowminded due to the emotional distress they are facing that there is no better solution or plan for the future that can help them. Although one may not understand how one could feel this way, it is clear to see that drastic life changes can send one spiraling into this thought process. Solutions to reduce this growing issue have been speculated by many and seek to block this pathway as an option for those feeling emotional distress. In my opinion, and based on the research presented, it is not easy to halt the actions of one down this path once they have made up their mind. People having suicidal thoughts are numb and disassociated from any thoughts of a better future than the life they are currently living. The best ways to prevent suicide form happening in the lives around one are to be observant, available, and proactive. Suicidal people need that support from those around them to help them distance the thought of escaping their problems through suicide.
All in all, suicide as a social problem is something that cannot be explained simply or defined due to its complex nature. The act of taking one’s own life relates to a variety of theories, but much of the reasoning behind why people commit this act is defended by the now-versus-future pattern. This theory demonstrates the feeling of existential dread that people with suicidal thoughts feel in the present and how they see no other way out of their current situation other than death. Research supports this theory and helps one analyze the mindset of those experiencing suicidal thoughts. Suicide is a growing issue that is affecting people all around the world and requires everyone to be vigilant in order to reduce this epidemic.