Poor self-esteem is huge as a cause of death. I would even go so far as to say that it is a, if not the, leading cause of death in our country. Poor self-esteem is ubiquitous, it is multi-faceted and complex, it is legion in its presentation (in general and in any given individual), and it is contagious. While it is a difficult problem to counter, we should not shy away from the attempt. Lives are at stake.
Drug use and abuse are often at their root poor self-esteem. Individuals self-medicate the problem and compound it with their use and abuse of drugs (and I, as always, include alcohol when referring to drug use and abuse). Often that same use and abuse further erode an individual’s self-esteem. That often complicates decisions about which came first, but not addressing it as well makes successful treatment less likely.
Violence against others, both specific and indiscriminate, is often easy to trace back to poor self-esteem. Feeling powerless, an individual strikes out to gain or express their need for power. Feeling trapped, cornered, they strike out. Not seeing value in themselves, it difficult to value others.
Bullying, in all its forms, is both a result of poor-self-esteem and a contributing factor to poor self-esteem in victims of bullying. Along with that, the bullied at times become the bully. Successful interventions in both the bully and the bullied require addressing self-esteem issues.
One of the great pains that drive an individual to take their own life is a lack of self-value, self-worth. The pain becomes too great to bear and they choose to deliver themselves from it by dying by suicide, leaving this painful place.
While poor self-esteem can be very difficult to counter in individuals, it is still necessary that we as a community act to intervene. This is a critical community health issue. Because it is multi-factorial in origin and multi-faceted in its nature, interventions must be multi-faceted and repeated in application. Resilience and life-skills must be reinforced at home, in school, and in other life situations (e.g. the media, TV, and movies). We mustn’t shy from the challenge, lives depend upon it.