essays

Star Crossed Trends?

Denny's burgerBaby boomers are frequenting restaurants in greater numbers than other population segments. At the same time, their suicide rate has also jumped (and I know that may not be the best choice of words in this instance). Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Let’s look at the numbers. According to the NPD Group study, baby boomers have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008 and Millennials have decreased their share of traffic by six percentage points. Okay, big deal. So we like to eat out and we’ve got the bucks to pay for it. But if you look at the CDC study of suicide rates in this country, from 1999 to 2010, it rose 30 percent for Americans ages 35 to 64. The sharpest rise was among men in their 50s – a 50 percent increase. For women ages 60 to 64, the rate increased 60 percent.

I’m no statistician (still have trouble with 8 x 9=72), but I see a clear correlation between eating and offing oneself. Face it. If you’re repeatedly going to Denny’s and eating something with Slam in the name, eventually you have to return home and deal with the shame of having absolutely no self-control (or for that matter, any regard for your heart health). What choice do you have? Of course you’re going to want to kill yourself – it’s the only way to stop the cycle of overeating.

Wait. There must be a better way. Oh, right. You can STOP eating out all the time and prepare some healthy meals at home. While you’re at it, you can have some quality time with your spouse and family. You know, the people who love you (hopefully) and don’t want you to end up dead because of your poor eating habits.

The folks at the CDC have a slightly more nuanced analysis of why boomers are committing suicide in greater numbers. They chalk it up to baconalia promothe stress of the economic downturn and the depressing outlook for boomers who had hoped to enjoy their golden years (albeit with a lot less gold than they thought). The other factor is that it’s a lot easier to kill yourself now then it was a decade ago. More drugs and poisonous substances have reduced the rate of difficulty. It’s progress, but not exactly the kind you want.

So I stand corrected. I would have gone with repeated meals at Denny’s as the root cause for suicidal thoughts and actions, but I bow to the experts. Just remember, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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