In the West today we experience tremendous wealth and incredibly high living standards, not just compared with the rest of the world, but with pretty much any civilization in history. This living standard gives an unprecedented level of comfort. And yet, depression is widespread and many Western and other first world countries have an extraordinary suicide rate. Why is this?
I believe that there is something inherent in modernity itself that brings on nihilism and despair in a people. What modernity does (or rather cities do, but modernity enables) is to remove people from a natural environment and place them in an environment that is noisy, busy and often very polluted. It removes them from a small community and places them amongst strangers. Cities are crowded with human beings, and yet many feel completely isolated in them. Modern large cities also overwhelmingly have an abundance of soulless, downright ugly buildings; living in such (brutalist and other modern architectural styles) buildings must surely have an adverse effect on your mental well-being. Just as living in a untidy, messy and unkept place, living in a cold, harsh and soulless building will leave its mark, I believe. It is not hard to come to the conclusion that such an environment could bring on depression and nihilism in its inhabitants. It also doesn’t help that most Western countries have almost completely rid itself of religion, replacing it with nihilism.
It would be interesting to see statistics on the living situations of suicide victims, albeit morbid. It could give us some insight into what percentage of suicides are in the cities, for instance, as opposed to more rural areas.