Sadness… It strikes us all at one point or another in our lifetimes. For some, we eventually pull out of it, dust off, and then we move on. For others, it takes them to lightless places that host introspective hells that make one of Hunter Thompson’s acid trips look like an afternoon at Disneyland with Santa Claus. This ultimate sadness is better known as depression and in extreme cases can lead to suicide.
With the recent tragedies of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell still in open view has brought the topics of depression and suicide back into the spotlight of our nation and others around the world. An estimated 9% of Americans suffer from depression, that’s 28,530,000 people. And unfortunately, some have nowhere to turn, can’t take or understand their emotions, and find no hope. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects data about mortality in the U.S., including deaths by suicide. In 2013 (most recent data), 42,826 which is 3,308 more then what was reported in 2011. This makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death in American. That’s a suicide roughly every 12-13 minutes.
Clinical depression is a very serious illness. People with this condition have long-term, often debilitating feelings of sadness and low self-esteem. These depths can lead to suicidal thoughts. Depression makes ordinary tasks such as going to work, cooking, cleaning, even personal hygiene very difficult and overwhelming for some. Once a doctor has evaluated theses types of symptoms, prescription medications are routinely recommended. There are many types of anti-depressant medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, MAOs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), SNRIs neither (serotonin-nor
epinephrine reuptake inhibitors) and a few others. However, in a very recent analysis published by the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that antidepressants are only effective for those with severe depression. Those patients with mild to moderate depression had no benefits with prescribed medications. However, these medications are prescribed with alarming frequency to those patients who may not benefit. Pharmaceutical companies profited $9.6 billion annually on antidepressants alone. And with all that being said, I think we have to start asking ourselves “Is it about your health and well-being or about money? Or are we trained to think that we need these drugs in order to be healthy?”
Interestingly enough Medical Cannabis has proven to be very effective for suicide prevention. Suicides among men aged 20 through 39 years fell 5% after medical marijuana legalization compared with those in states that did not legalize. The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events like a death in the family or stressing over hard economic times.
Why did it drop in those states? Do they live less stressful lives now because of more relaxed laws? Is it because alcohol consumption has dropped between 5-10% in the states that allow for Cannabis use both recreationally and medically? Is it the chemical compositions that are being consumed just making them happier?
In some states like CA and CO have very relaxed laws when it comes to Cannabis consumption. In CA a Medical Cannabis Patient can carry up to 8 ounces of usable material legally, along with access to a store and having an ability to grow there own medicine. In recreational areas like CO, any person over 21 year old can just drop by a store and purchase as much as an ounce. No more making the phone call to meet in a shady location to get your Cannabis. Seems pretty relaxed if you ask me… With no real need to worry.
There are many studies that display a very strong link between alcohol abuse and depression. But in areas where Cannabis is available, alcohol use is down between 5-10% in some areas of the country. There are multiple studies that
reveal alcohol being twice as harmful on a user compared to Cannabis and up to 5 times more harmful on a society. (In areas where it is available recreationally; crime is down, the economy is up, and schools and rehabilitation facilities are improving by receiving more funding. Seems like it made a good impact on the people who live within those areas.)
Or… Is it the Cannabis itself that just makes people happier? It usually brings people together and those consuming it are generally pretty happy and the most common self-reported reason for using cannabis is rooted in its ability to reduce feelings of stress, tension, and anxiety, which can all lead to depression. But how is it that Cannabis can turn those feelings around? Well… It’s a little complicated.
In the flower of the Cannabis plant are unsaturated hydrocarbons in the essential oils called terpenes. Terpenes hold the flavors and smells of Cannabis, but it also holds a component called caryophyllene (β-caryophyllene ). β-caryophyllene stimulates the CB2 receptor in the brain when ingested. CB2 receptors are what controls emotional behaviors. There was a published study posted online at The journal of Physiology and Behavior by a team of scientists with the United Arab Emirates University. “The present study has clearly demonstrated the anxiolytic and anti-depressant effect of β-caryophyllene and its underlying mechanism in a CB2 receptor-dependent manner in rodents,” then later added “The results also support the involvement of the CB2 receptor in the regulation of emotional behavior and suggest that this receptor could be a relevant therapeutic target for the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders.”
So in the end, I think that we can see a collective of both situation and science that can ultimately led up to an overall growth of happiness, sprinkle some terpenes on there and all those happy thoughts might cause you to fly. But to those that just couldn’t bare to made it through all of their own darkness, you are and will always be missed.
There is no judgement from me on any whom have fallen to their own hand. Some would say it was weak. Others claim it was brave. Some say it was mercy. I say there is only a ripple. The ripple effect from it always leaves us shacken and stirred with millions of unanswered questions. Those who remain behind; I think, carry a bit of extra sadness with them due to all those unanswered questions. We wonder why. We internalize and wonder what could we have done and even blame ourselves at times. I read somewhere once where someone said “He who attempts to destroy himself destroys everything around him.” I just wish they could only see what the destruction does to everyone around them before they made their ultimate choice. May those who could no longer stand in their darkness rest in peace.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number