So the suicide rate, which is already eye wateringly high, may in fact be 3 times as high as we suspect.
That’s almost 1800 deaths a year.
What has gone so wrong in NZ for so many of our friends, family and whanau to end it all by their own hand?
30 years of neoliberalism has much to answer for. The myths state there are no hegemonic power structures within society, that if you succeed it’s because of your hard work, and if you fail, then that’s your fault too.
In a society that has no religious faith and all the cultural maturity of a can of coke, the bonds which keep us attached are frail and disconnected. In our fetishisation of individualism we have lost the central part of the human condition – which is connection.
The Rats don’t turn to drugs because they have ‘rat park’. Humans need connection, they need society, they need to bond. We have spent so much time ignoring the importance of solidarity with one another for a competition of selfishness. It is in such a culture that we see suicide in such horrific numbers.
We have lost our bonds and connections for a race where no one wins.
Talking with those at the frontline of the suicide tsunami they say that screening for mental health isn’t enough, that many are turning up dead without ever having a history of mental illness. They suggest there is something more damaged at work here.
The reason we can’t talk about suicide is because we can’t stand to talk about the dark treacle of self hate and loneliness at the core of consumer culture. We don’t dare confront the hollowness of our existence on these far flung crags of rock for fear of what we will reveal about ourselves.
Damaged individuals competing for a self identity too fragile for the storms and tempests of life.
Thanks to neoliberalism, we are further from each other than ever before.