You have probably heard the reports in the media of the cases of suicide on the rise in America over the past decade. These cases span from young teenage victims to war heroes to celebrities, most recent comedian Robin Williams. The headlines grab at our hearts and even more tragic is how common suicide is with an estimated 41,000 lives lost annually. This equates to one life lost almost every 13 minutes. Besides those who end their life’s journey in suicide, there are approximately 1,028,725 Americans who attempt suicide each year and the 4.8 million affected by these attempts and lost.
As much as people hear these stark statistics, there is a population often overlooked when it comes to this epidemic. Very little data is provided when it comes to the numbers of individuals with disabilities who commit suicide. Though the issue is nothing new, still very little research has been done on the topic. Thomas Weiss, a writer and editor at disabled-world.com states “It is amazing that even though 18.7% of all non-institutionalized civilians in the United States experience a form of disability, they remain nearly invisible when it comes to the issue of suicide.”
The research that has been conducted on disabilities and depression has often found that disabled individuals state that their unhappiness is due to the lack of intimate encounters and financial stability. Like many, they want fulfilling relationships, to be good at their job and not have to worry if they are in danger of losing their source of income. Those with disabilities already have to deal with the negative social presentation of their lives being less than satisfying or depressing but really they have the same basic needs and concerns as those without disabilities that commit suicide.
It’s not the physical or mental change that is the concern; those become a way of life and overtime many adapt to their new lifestyle. But, like any human, it is the need to feel part of the world you live in. To have a role to play that makes your life impactful to others you encounter. That has become the purpose driven mission at HMEA, that through the right supports, education and life experiences those with disabilities can find resolve and contentment in their lives.
Many of the Day programs cater to the work and life needs of our consumers. HMEA’s Employment programs give individuals the opportunity to pursue meaningful employment either on a full- or part-time basis. For people in the Employment Program who work part-time, HMEA encourages volunteering for community organizations, or leisure and recreation activities to supplement their day. Our Day Habilitation programs focuses on identifying skill areas that are of interest to individuals. These programs foster growth in community integration, relationship building, social and communication skills, activities for daily living and recreational activities.
Implementing programs that support individuals with disabilities takes away the option for suicide and opens up the door for other opportunities in life some never thought were possible.
~ Kormasa Amos