The saddest end to life is self murder. Even when it is justified as martyrdom, euthanasia, or defense of self or others, it is a desperate, unfortunate choice. But when it is freely chosen out of pain and disgust with life, it is the most miserable of deaths.

The U.S. suicide rate has gone up by almost 30 percent in the last two decades and includes people of all age groups. We hear about veterans taking their own lives, a result, one suspects, of untreated PTSD. But there are many reasons for suicides that occur among non-military populations.

Most suicides use guns; their availability is a factor. Also they are so easy to use compared to other methods. Most other devices need more planning and time to be effective, and do not always work. Opioid overdosing is a kind of suicide, but might be considered accidental. Many addictions are ultimately lethal but take years to kill.

We also see “suicide by police.” That names a way of producing intentional death by provoking police reaction. Notoriously suicide by police can be done by shooting many people. This is like “suicide by automobile,” hidden by camouflage as an accident. It too often takes other lives.

An old hymn says, “In the midst of life we are surrounded by death.” It reminds us that we are mortal or it describes being in warfare. It also says that we live in the midst of many people who want to die and people who want to kill as they fulfill their wish.

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