While many people who kill themselves have been experiencing the extreme distress we might think of as depression, that’s not always the case and is rarely the whole explanation. This article originally appeared on the Guardian Science Website on the 18th of August 2014 and is reproduced here with permission.
When a celebrity like Stephen Fry can publicly admit that he’s recently attempted suicide and others like Catherine Zeta-Jones announce they’re checking into a clinic for maintenance of a bipolar disorder, it would be tempting to believe that we’ve reached a new point in the acceptance of mental illness.
Like many middle-aged Brits I came to political sentience chanting, ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie…’ followed by some general abuse inviting Mrs Thatcher’s exit. It was all so easy. Hating the Tories in general, and Mrs T’s economic brutality in particular, was as natural as breathing. For all the economic and social divisions, 1980s Britain was a straightforward place to grow up.
What do you call someone who tells lies persistently? In recent weeks the answer is probably Chris Huhne, the latest in a line of hubristic politicians who have told a stream of big porkies to cover up a small one. You may have already forgotten that before the erstwhile next leader of the Lib Dems bowed out, the deceiver du jour was cycling champ (technically ex-champ) Lance Armstrong. I’ve written about the ethics of Armstrong’s fall from grace elsewhere, suggesting that, while his doping to win the Tour de France wasn’t great, his unpopularity has far more to do with his deceit and with our disappointed expectations of a previously heroic figure.