The beautiful city of Salem has fallen into a trance
From the outside, Salem seems like Shangri-La. Our wide, safe streets, lovely suburbs, and generally civil and friendly behavior make Salem a popular destination. But this pleasant exterior is taking place at the expense of freedom, understanding and relationship.
Recent statistics show that Salem has a property crime rate almost three times the national average, or 7,195 incidents per hundred thousand people each year. Oregon is ranked as the worst in the nation for mental health related suicide.
What can explain the discrepancy between the outer and inner state? Nearly all of downtown is devoted to money-making. Almost all city and civil functions are devoted to business and security. Every other basic human need – companionship, adventure, diversity, creativity, spirituality, and helping others – is neglected.
Salem is a fast-growing city. Oregon’s intense natural beauty, the considerably lower cost of living than California, and the state’s recreational marijuana law, is drawing large numbers of people from states where marijuana remains criminalized. Portland residents, overpriced and tired of an overcrowded metropolis, are also relocating to Salem in large numbers, further driving the cost and gentrification of Oregon’s Capital City.
Salem has nearly twice the national average number of veterans, and continues to grow in this area. With military combat veterans in the mix, teen depression, a lack of homeless facilities for women, and hundreds and hundreds of unsheltered people living outdoors, perhaps it isn't surprising that Oregon’s suicide rate has been increasing since 2000.
Many of the same problems exist nationally. The National Institute of Mental Health found that 46% of American adults meet the criteria for being mentally ill. Ten percent of Americans over the age of four now take anti-depressants. Consumption of anti-depressants is 2/3 of the entire world’s consumption.