The Social Graphic of Suicide
I really don’t think people get this, and it pains me to watch the chaos building around both the discussion and the prospective fix, which as I see it, is encouraging the problem, not helping it.
As a young New Zealander as much as I knew about suicide was that they had kamakazi pilots in WW11. By the time I was in my later years of High School I had seen a news article on harakiri, which we tend to pronounce ‘harikari’. This was all very foreign.
Then one day a school friend raised his eyes and said, “it was suicide, he had cancer,” when relating the news of his relative and also of mutual friends, at school. It happened, with an acceptance of these rare incidents.
What happened beyond this is a consequence of a continuing failure to address the causes, and this was first highlighted by the father and son farmer-suicides brought about by the IRD. When they stopped the use of their tactics the suicides stopped.
Then we stopped addressing the consequences and started hiding the causes, like the Family Court, for example, and started a regime of secrecy around the burgeoning statistics. Barriers, while they were a detergent didn’t stop people jumping off the Grafton Bridge, railway lines became more inviting, as did something we called ‘autocide’ the deliberate car accident, which weren’t counted as suicides.
As a resident of Auckland, stumbling into a suicide scene wasn’t uncommon, and I’m sure l’m not the only one to experience this on more than one occasion, so when I say “being heavy involved in the ‘men’s arena'” it was a frequent occurrence, that we dealt with suicidal tendencies. And well enough I would add, that there was one single occasion that we arrived too late. [Refers to SFST]
I would like to think that all those we did support are still alive today. It’s unfortunate that our network of assistance paid a price. We were hounded into obscurity by corrupt judges and lawyers determined to preserve their image. And for all their determined efforts, and as much as they would like, they will never see our names as ticks on their chalk board.
The social graphic I’m talking about today, is perhaps best described by Google and the first result was a caricature of a man, with a gun to one temple and his brains exploding out the other.
This is because we view suicide as an event, not a process or a consequence. That is, and has been for many years, because of the gross negligence of the Coroner’s Office, in a similar manner to that described above, defending their pay packets with political coveniences rather than integrity or professionalism.
We have to our detriment, learned to let this happen, and no amount of tears, regret, or soul searching, will address this failure: we need to adopt a different point of view, a present one, not an historic one, and in a way that helps those affected, not encourages the belief that others may be affected.
It can be done, we did it – we might have come away with first degree burns, but we proved the point.