The Suicide Debate
We knew it was bad, but not how bad.
Then the whispers started; four times as many men as women. The Clark Ministry wouldn’t be budged on making the figures public. Perhaps the previous government hadn’t been any better – I don’t know.
More than fifteen years ago we obtained by dubious means, the most recent figures. There was no hurry to be up to date and provisional figures were running about two years behind.
The media adopted various attitudes, from compliance with rules, to the high and mighty, or just don’t return the call.
Although we couldn’t actually reproduce them, we could give our opinion on them. Here is an old post 2002 suicide statistics. The internet made information more available. Unlike today a trail of breadcrumbs would eventually get you into the deep dark hole they were stored in rather than the direct link that is now available.
There was no political will. Why would there be. It was an issue they didn’t want to deal with, a growing problem they didn’t want to be held responsible for, and any reasonably informed MP would have been aware of the significant causes.
Even the process of agreeing to talk about suicide has been a disconcerting frolic in the sands of discontent, waiting for each debate to tire, and the next tide to wash away the most recent trail of footprints.
Then … Greg Boyed
It is an interesting intersection; I have no doubt many will be observing the response from within the media alongside the media response.
Nothing more needed to be said – you wouldn’t be able to shut them up. All the way from the top right down to the, “I never worked with Greg but … .”
And this is the essence. We’re processing a death.
When someone dies we need to process this. Funerals are as much for those left behind, perhaps even more so, than the recently departed. When it’s not a death of natural causes there is an investigation. Work deaths, road accidents, criminal investigations – suicide has in the past been a criminal investigation but as any competent detective would say, “Which judge in his right mind would sign a warrant for that?” (Or should I say Det Sgt as the quote is attributable to.)
So, we’re left to our own devices, our own investigation (outside of a Coroner’s hearing) and our own conclusion, our own resolution.
It’s easy to say, it’s depression rather than a reason. It’s a mental heath issue rather than a consequence of a current environment. And do we in our own mind sanitize this, to get away from the stigma, for our own peace of mind?
How does a child process this,
“He made the ultimate sacrifice for his own peace of mind.”
Glorify the casualties of peace?
To be hardened to death, engaged in that professional responsibility, has its obligations but in the age of the politically constricted and restrained we’re not permitted to do a good job. Whose job is it?
That is a much greater challenge for the media than their literary obligations to one of their own.