Sunday, November 6, 2016

Suicide among middle-aged poor women

I'm heart-broken to read about the suicide rate of middle-aged white women in rural areas and small towns such as Durango, Colorado.  It has doubled in the past 15 years.

I have family members in that demographic living in Durango.

Thank you to John Arthur for noticing a report on this problem in his Twitter feed and sending it to me.  Thank you to Amy Ellis Nutt and the Washington Post for the report today, as well as to Dan Keating and Alice Crites.

The article reminded me of my great-uncle Laurie Pohja who hung himself from a tree in the Durango cemetery on Christmas Day in 1932.  He had worked at the foundry in Telluride.  He and his wife and two sons moved to Durango when the foundry moved there.  Then the mines had so little work that there was no work for the foundry, and it was laying people off.  He couldn't support his family.

This story is in my mother's autobiography, p. 140, along with another story of suicide during the Depression: 

Mrs. Pahka, mother and mother of two, had a job as the cleaning woman at the Telluride Courthouse.  She came to my grandfather's door one morning at 6 am and said, "Something terrible is about to happen."

"Nothing terrible is about to happen," he answered her.

She went on down the street to the Courthouse, where she fixed and drank a solution of lye.  When the doors opened, her body was found.  (p. 142)

Adventures of a Telluride Native by Evelyn Gustafson Eggebroten (Boulder, CO: Johnson, 1999).  Available on Amazon.

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