As I showed a hometown friend around my university’s library one November Sunday afternoon in my sophomore year, a classmate saw me and said, “Did you hear about Frank?”.
I had last seen my roommate on Friday afternoon when we both headed to our respective hometowns for the weekend. I returned to the campus on Sunday. Frank did not. He had died by suicide.
I first met “Ted” when I was barely 18, both of us transients in a city of transients where superficial friendships were the common social norm.
Ted was about 10 years older, and although we never dated, we had maintained casual contact with each other. We never discussed our personal history or hopes for the future, but I had sensed a deep, quiet loneliness about him that meshed with my own.
The U.S. News & World Report ranked Colorado Springs as number 11 on its list of 2017 Best Places to Live in the USA.
However, even in this ultimate vacation destination of snow-capped mountains and clean air, tragedy can strike.
We all know that there are several lifestyle and environmental risk factors for early mortality, including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking. However, we often forget a far less researched and talked about risk factor for mortality: loneliness and social isolation. Often that loneliness and social isolation are heightened during the holidays, which, ironically, is a time meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. However, for many it is a time that can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and a desire to withdraw. The holidays, therefore, present an excellent time to discuss the role we can all play in reinforcing connections in a world that, on the surface at least, is more connected than it has ever been due to…