Mike King has mana. He has fought to get suicide on the agenda, he has fought to get us as a country to recognise the scale of the problem and he has reached out to those in trauma.
For him to quit the suicide-prevention panel because they won’t even look at a 20% reduction is outrageous and simply further proof of how this government get community leaders to buy into their bullshit and then simply ignore their voice when the goals are set.
Mike’s resignation letter on Facebook is damning evidence of a Government too timid and frightened to do anything meaningful.
Mike has followed this resignation up with a shacking claim this morning that our real suicide rate is actually twice that of what our officials claims.
That’s a 1000 NZ lives taken by suicide every year. That’s a 1000 families wrecked by the carnage of suicide. That’s friends, whanau, workmates, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers suffering the worst kind of loss every year.
We spend tens of millions advertising to lower our road toll of 340, what the fuck are we doing to counter our weeping wound of suicide?
So where’s the public outrage?
Where’s the reaction?
Where’s the clustering of experts at 6pm on the news?
There isn’t any and we all know why right?
It’s because we don’t want top hear the answers. The grim reality is that the 30+year old social experiment in neoliberalism has failed us terribly.
We don’t want to hear that an increasingly individualised user pays consumer culture has a hollowness and disconnection with whanau. We don’t want to hear that toxic masculinity damages men as violently as it damages women. We don’t want to hear that our lack of social cohesion and under funded social infrastructure is part of a group responsibility.
We want the neoliberal myth that the individual is responsible for all. If you are poor, you choose to be poor. If you are vulnerable, you choose to be vulnerable. If you succeed and are rich, you choose that success and wealth.
Neoliberalism has to be built upon the myth of the individual succeeding in a market place with no hegemonies or biased play fields. This allows neoliberalism to ignore having to solve any of those ‘individual choices’.
We refuse to tackle suicide because the answers demand too much from us in a user pays culture where selfishness and narcissism have become common currency.
The Guardian pointed out how we have been cut up and isolated for the sake of neoliberalism, any progressive Government coming into power must consider rebuilding civil society if we are genuine about making real change to these grey and grim shakey Isles.
Social media has its own way of making this worse, a culture of abusive trolling and shame calling only adds to isolation and depression. Even a tool that should bind us has become a way to hurt.
Economic Darwinism is not a solution.
A nation that kills itself with the passion ours does is a damaged culture demanding immediate recognition and action now. The denial is beneath us and those who tragically take their own lives. Imagine if we took that $1.7billion ‘surplus’ that National supposedly have and reinvested it into Suicide prevention?
The horror of our suicide rate gives us a glimpse behind the ‘she’ll be right’ veneer of our culture and the dark torment of an alpha male macho mental landscape that is terribly fragile.
Our under funded social infrastructure, our ‘me first’ consumerism, our 30 years of neoliberal mythology, our disconnection from one another, our untreated pain, our lack of hope from grinding poverty in a first world country, our toxic masculinity, our unspoken rape culture, our inability to express emotion beyond anger – all of this demands questions we don’t want to hear as a society and the shame of suicide continues to hide and smother any healing.
We huddle frightened on these lonely grey crags at the end of a jagged world and slowly one by one slip off into the swallowing dark. Until we are prepared to confront many of the individualism-over-all myths and rebuild our tattered communities, our suicide rate will remain darkly reminding us of our whispered deceptions.
We must rage against the dying of the light.