Herald & Fairfax Watch: We are in denial over the why of suicide in New Zealand

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The Herald are copying Stuff by running big current affairs campaigns. This week Stuff is looking at cannabis reform and the Herald are attempting to talk about suicide.

Stuff has done a pretty good job of laying out the issues over cannabis reform, but are shying away from the influence of booze and tobacco that dominates our political agenda, the racism of cannabis laws and the total political cowardice from our Politicians to be adults about prohibition.

The Herald’s suicide expose equally misses the point.

We are in total denial about our suicide culture because the why would unravel the thin veneer of the neoliberal cultural mythology we cling to and demand far too many questions we wish to ignore.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

We can’t even agree on exactly how many NZers kill themselves, and critics have suggested our suicide rate may actually be 3 times higher than officially acknowledged. 

The horror of our suicide rate gives us a glimpse behind the ‘she’ll be right’ facade 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.

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 –  connection.

We have traded in our interwoven threads of whanau, friendship and kin 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.

We huddle frightened on these lonely rocks at the end of the 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 reminding us of our whispered deceptions.

There is something broken within us as a culture that denial won’t ever fix.

29 COMMENTS

  1. +100…terrific post!…what is needed is nurturing, protection and ensuring a future for our most vulnerable…our New Zealand youth …everything else pales into insignificance

    the Labour Party is making some positive moves here as is NZFirst

  2. A fine mind as yours can see that this Government actually is secretly creating the platform for a premedicated removal and destruction of us all who do not conform with the evil administration as they force their “totalitarian agenda” on us.

    They are the worst example of social manipulation I have ever witnessed in my life since the historic NAZI era which i only learned of in history, but it sadly appears “history is now repeating itself” again right here in NZ.

  3. Be interesting to see the demographics of suicide in NZ, i.e. age, race, income, marriage status, etc.

    I think about suicide more often than I know is healthy, and I’m very much a middle-class NZer. A total lack of hope for the future of mankind due to a blatant lack of empathy in the post-neoliberal world is probably the main driving force for me; “good and evil” is a far easier notion to understand than an indifference to either. Combine that with the total objective pointlessness of ALL life generally in a universe that is relentlessly (and irrevocable) moving toward a greater state of entropy while knowing, as an atheist, there is no higher power to come and “save” us and you almost get there, i.e. it fundamentally makes no difference if you’re alive or dead, outside of a relatively VERY small group of family/friends – the only thing that keeps me going.

      • Jesus you guys. Now, you’re freaking me out. Two extraordinary fellows… Two cornerstones of The Daily Blog. You’re both too important to the blood flow of an alternative to The Mainly Beige to up and bugger off yourselves.
        We have to remember that this ‘ life’. This ‘ thing’ we exist within is an extraordinary ‘thing’. It’d be a dire mistake to take it too seriously. Look at something as crazy as a Sloth? In those little beastie’s, there’s a clue to an answer to our questions and the back door out of despair.
        Honestly? We could have been Sloths ( Some of us were. gerry brownlee? Say no more. ) so we should think ourselves lucky. Can’t play tennis, grow lichen on our bums, having to endure your friends asking ” What’s up? ” Everything’s ‘up’ to a Sloth.
        I’m being trite. Am I? I never really know, such is my reality.
        I can understand someone jumping off a bridge from a broken heart. I can understand someone hanging ones self because of a hideous disease’s unstoppable progression. But not for money and/or politics. I wouldn’t give the bastards the satisfaction.
        Life, even when it’s at its most perilous is a wondrous experience. Life’s like an old British car. A completely unreliable fucker of a thing but lovely all the same.
        The problem with ‘ at risk ‘ NZ youth I think is that they’re being sold the fish and chips without the salt and vinegar. Because of the onslaught of non stop profit over fun and freedom means mitigating risk means the beige-ification of life and everything. That just sucks the colour out of the circus. Fluro Vest syndrome. A ghastly disease that’s spreading out of control.
        So, if you feel like checking out? You’re taking life too seriously and you’ve been convinced to abandon your curiosity.
        Life, per se, is a wild ride. It is. It’s a bizarre and maelstrom of a thing. The complexity of it is mind boggling. The permutations of it is inexplicable. From the smallest bacterium breeding around underwater volcano vents to that hot female/male human that quickens the pulse to the cheap wine shared in a shop door way as the bewilderingly lucky walk past with money to spare as the massive old Sun swings about …
        Do you know what? I’ve just had a thinky-thinky !
        What if God, you know the one right? The one we’re expected to believe in unquestioningly and with a sycophantic adoration, is, in fact, the collective ‘ Us’. We’re all ‘ God’. All of us. ( I hasten to add that I’m speaking in metaphors. I’m no God botherer.) What if the answer, if you like, is in that we must all work in unison in order to elevate ourselves in an ever Sloth-ward direction. We must ALL strive to look upward. We must elevate the brilliant and levitate the at-risk. I’ve always wondered how the rich and lucky can live seemingly happy lives knowing there are desperately unlucky people living in dreadful deprivation just down the fucking street? How can they do that? How can a person walk past a homeless other person in desperate need. Not only for something to eat and drink, but to not be seen as being so desperate. Imagine how terrible that might feel. That loss of one’s dignity… Dirty, hungry, exhausted…. How can the Banks be so ‘ comfortable’ with vacuuming our money into their bottomless pits while there’s one….

        (Fuck it. Do you know what? I’m ranting again)

        Is this what we’re supposed to do? Be aware of how we’re expressing ourselves, shame ourselves for being so ‘ ranty’ and to shuffle off, embarrassed and contrite?

        Eating fish and chips without salt and vinegar will ultimately lead us to compliance and to bend to a psychiatrically fucked authority who will insist we, at best, acquiesce to them and clearly, they know fuck all.

        Is that the Devil?? Oooooooooooo…… !

        Life’s wondrous, and I can’t wait for the next one. xxx See you there! xxx But not quite yet ….
        Dr Penny Sartori.
        http://www.drpennysartori.com/

        • ha ha great writing as usual ….and thanks for the link….(although I don’t think I will try it myself just yet)

          …maybe it is time for a new hippie cultural generation* …and Gandhi passive resistance to neoliberalism…time for a renaissance of State run socialism…”government of the people, for the people and by the people” … grassroots Democracy

          New Zealand youth need to get out and vote this Nact government out!

    • “A fine mind as yours can see that this Government actually is secretly creating the platform for a premedicated removal and destruction of us all who do not conform with the evil administration as they force their “totalitarian agenda” on us.”
      The suicide issue is not really a mental health issue, it is more about the current political, social and economic reality of New Zealand. It is a cold, hard, selfish, violent hate-filled place. People are thoroughly disconnected, and there is no culture or social mechanisms to be caring and inclusive, or to provide any meaning to life. Suicide is a logical conclusion in such despairing circumstances. I too was suicidal and finally worked out that it had a lot to do with the chronic situation in New Zealand where there is no justice, and a poor quality of life. I am not in New Zealand now, and I am in the Middle East. The society is very close knit and connected, with a strong culture and religion;- the complete opposite of New Zealand. I am not saying that it is great, but the idea of suicide very rarely crosses my mind. If I think about New Zealand, and my situation there, I can have really serious panic attacks. New Zealand has evolved into a horror story, a one way ticket to hell. How on earth did this ever happen? The nine years of Natz did this …?

      https://e2nz.org/2017/06/12/what-kiwis-say-about-nz-in-the-middle-east-and-too-terrified-to-go-back-to-new-zealand/

      What Kiwis Say About NZ – In the Middle East and Too Terrified to Go Back to New Zealand
      Welcome to our What Kiwis Say About NZ series – first hand accounts of life in New Zealand, as told by the locals. Today’s tale was left as a comment on a discussion thread here at E2NZ.org. The reader tells why she prefers life in the middle east and why she’s terrified to go back…

      June 12, 2017 in Crime.

    • Being an atheist and intelligent makes it extremely difficult for you, I understand. I am a very spiritual person and have lots of people who are atheist – although I don’t consider myself religious (that’s a whole different creepy thing to my beliefs).

      My family and friends would be better off without a worthless invalid like me, only thing that keeps me alive is knowing neo-liberal terrorist scum want me to suicide and shut up about what they are doing to people. Check out my website, I suggest being a big pain in the butt to the system might make you feel a bit better. Especially using art/words/chalking etc like I do. jrmurphypoet.com

      Kia kaha

  4. This is a good survivalist book…formed from survival in a concentration camp

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Search_for_Meaning

    Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity…

    “Frankl identifies three psychological reactions experienced by all inmates to one degree or another: (1) shock during the initial admission phase to the camp, (2) apathy after becoming accustomed to camp existence, in which the inmate values only that which helps himself and his friends survive, and (3) reactions of depersonalization, moral deformity, bitterness, and disillusionment if he survives and is liberated.[5]

    Frankl concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death. In a group therapy session during a mass fast inflicted on the camp’s inmates trying to protect an anonymous fellow inmate from fatal retribution by authorities, Frankl offered the thought that for everyone in a dire condition there is someone looking down, a friend, family member, or even God, who would expect not to be disappointed. Frankl concludes from his experience that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering. The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed…

  5. Statistics :

    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/nz-social-indicators/Home/Health/suicide.aspx

    ‘The highest rate of teen suicide in the developed world’

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/85305366/the-highest-rate-of-teen-suicide-in-the-developed-world

    ‘Report details size of New Zealand’s suicide problem’

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11746362

    Where to get help:
    • Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
    • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
    • Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
    • Youthline: 0800 376 633
    • Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
    • Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
    • Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
    • Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
    If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

    • Why you putting up phone numbers that go nowhere? That hang up on you or have police sent round to strip you naked and terrorise you, or worse have you committed, forcibly drugged until you say what they want you to hear before they will let you out.

      Ignorance is bliss, these phone numbers go nowhere – except to hell!

  6. “A fine mind as yours can see that this Government actually is secretly creating the platform for a premedicated removal and destruction of us all who do not conform with the evil administration as they force their “totalitarian agenda” on us.”
    The suicide issue is not really a mental health issue, it is more about the current political, social and economic reality of New Zealand. It is a cold, hard, selfish, violent hate-filled place. People are thoroughly disconnected, and there is no culture or social mechanisms to be caring and inclusive, or to provide any meaning to life. Suicide is a logical conclusion in such despairing circumstances. I too was suicidal and finally worked out that it had a lot to do with the chronic situation in New Zealand where there is no justice, and a poor quality of life. I am not in New Zealand now, and I am in the Middle East. The society is very close knit and connected, with a strong culture and religion;- the complete opposite of New Zealand. I am not saying that it is great, but the idea of suicide very rarely crosses my mind. If I think about New Zealand, and my situation there, I can have really serious panic attacks. New Zealand has evolved into a horror story, a one way ticket to hell. How on earth did this ever happen? The nine years of Natz did this …?

    https://e2nz.org/2017/06/12/what-kiwis-say-about-nz-in-the-middle-east-and-too-terrified-to-go-back-to-new-zealand/

    What Kiwis Say About NZ – In the Middle East and Too Terrified to Go Back to New Zealand
    Welcome to our What Kiwis Say About NZ series – first hand accounts of life in New Zealand, as told by the locals. Today’s tale was left as a comment on a discussion thread here at E2NZ.org. The reader tells why she prefers life in the middle east and why she’s terrified to go back…

    June 12, 2017 in Crime.

  7. “A fine mind as yours can see that this Government actually is secretly creating the platform for a premedicated removal and destruction of us all who do not conform with the evil administration as they force their “totalitarian agenda” on us.”
    The suicide issue is not really a mental health issue, it is more about the current political, social and economic reality of New Zealand. It is a cold, hard, selfish, violent hate-filled place. People are thoroughly disconnected, and there is no culture or social mechanisms to be caring and inclusive, or to provide any meaning to life. Suicide is a logical conclusion in such despairing circumstances. I too was suicidal and finally worked out that it had a lot to do with the chronic situation in New Zealand where there is no justice, and a poor quality of life. I am not in New Zealand now, and I am in the Middle East. The society is very close knit and connected, with a strong culture and religion;- the complete opposite of New Zealand. I am not saying that it is great, but the idea of suicide very rarely crosses my mind. If I think about New Zealand, and my situation there, I can have really serious panic attacks. New Zealand has evolved into a horror story, a one way ticket to hell. How on earth did this ever happen? The nine years of Natz did this …?

    https://e2nz.org/2017/06/12/what-kiwis-say-about-nz-in-the-middle-east-and-too-terrified-to-go-back-to-new-zealand/

    What Kiwis Say About NZ – In the Middle East and Too Terrified to Go Back to New Zealand
    Welcome to our What Kiwis Say About NZ series – first hand accounts of life in New Zealand, as told by the locals. Today’s tale was left as a comment on a discussion thread here at E2NZ.org. The reader tells why she prefers life in the middle east and why she’s terrified to go back…

    June 12, 2017 in Crime.

    • EXACTLY – I tell people that in the Wairarapa/New Zealand and you’re abused for it, terrorised by police, justice and health agencies.

      Kia kaha to us all

  8. ”A fine mind as yours can see that this Government actually is secretly creating the platform for a premedicated removal and destruction of us all who do not conform with the evil administration as they force their “totalitarian agenda” on us.”
    The suicide issue is not really a mental health issue, it is more about the current political, social and economic reality of New Zealand. It is a cold, hard, selfish, violent hate-filled place. People are thoroughly disconnected, and there is no culture or social mechanisms to be caring and inclusive, or to provide any meaning to life. Suicide is a logical conclusion in such despairing circumstances. I too was suicidal and finally worked out that it had a lot to do with the chronic situation in New Zealand where there is no justice, and a poor quality of life. I am not in New Zealand now, and I am in the Middle East. The society is very close knit and connected, with a strong culture and religion;- the complete opposite of New Zealand. I am not saying that it is great, but the idea of suicide very rarely crosses my mind. If I think about New Zealand, and my situation there, I can have really serious panic attacks. New Zealand has evolved into a horror story, a one way ticket to hell. How on earth did this ever happen? The nine years of Natz did this …?

    https://e2nz.org/2017/06/12/what-kiwis-say-about-nz-in-the-middle-east-and-too-terrified-to-go-back-to-new-zealand/

    What Kiwis Say About NZ – In the Middle East and Too Terrified to Go Back to New Zealand
    Welcome to our What Kiwis Say About NZ series – first hand accounts of life in New Zealand, as told by the locals. Today’s tale was left as a comment on a discussion thread here at E2NZ.org. The reader tells why she prefers life in the middle east and why she’s terrified to go back…

    June 12, 2017 in Crime.

  9. Its teen males killing themselves. We need to explain more clearly to them why it is wrong to be male. This article us a good start. But just killing yourself doesn’t begin to make up for the crime if being born male. Think if the real victims of suicide. Them women who have to clean up the mess and just hope the next child is female and masculinity free. None of that nasty assertiveness, ambition or boisterousness that is so distasteful.

  10. “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 – connection.”
    This post is profound, full of insight and definition. We are, indeed deep in the ‘Wasteland.’
    There is little more to add, except perhaps the quote by Solzhenitsyn which is at the end of a post I read today on Katehon.

    http://katehon.com/article/why-west-cant-unite-against-terrorism

    “We shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.”
    Although the post is about reactions to terrorism there are points of similarity, e.g. “We have no unifying cultural institution through which to mourn collectively and so even the misery of our decline is merchandised.”
    The Church in the West has gone with the wind and quite frankly I don’t think many of us give a damn. There are, though, other spiritual traditions and threads in world and European history.
    I think people at all levels are starved of meaning.

  11. attend a NZ court ordered anti anger course in NZ
    see fellow attendees commit suicide at rate of 1 a week
    Course carries on with no comment on suicides.
    The dead men disappear into nothingness, no publicity
    Why is it so acceptable?? Are they smoke?

  12. While this post is excellent in its coverage of the socio-psycho dynamics of suicide it misses an area avoided by the Mental Health industry because it threatens the status quo of the economy. In other words toxic pollutants and a toxic diet lacking in nutrition. Heavy metals, pesticide residues, endocrine disrupting plastics etc. don’t just accumulate in the individual but are passed on in the blood line of the mother which means this gets worse through the generations. Add to this a food supply stripped of nutrition by modern agricultural soil mineral depletion, new breeds containing less and less vital nutrients and then processed to strip out even more and collectively this is a recipe for disaster. How can the brain function when it doesnt have what it needs nutritionally and/or is overloaded with toxins? It perceives the world as a hostile and terrible place to exist in and coupled with negative socio-psycho-dynamics of neo-liberalism this is a recipe for disaster. In fact I would called it social Darwinistic genocide by design. The solution for the individual is to de-tox and eat a high nutrition organic diet with appropriate herbs and supplementation. The economic solutions require a total overhaul of agricultural production to organics and a detoxification of industrial production.

  13. Martyn;

    Thanks for this article as I had no idea of the staggering figures involved.

    The very first thing about this subject I would like to know is how many victims
    have actually been prescribed anti-depressants or psycho-trophic drugs.
    Any drugs ,for that matter, as there is evidence to suggest such a linkage.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/30/ssri-antidepressants-suicide-risk.aspx

    http://search.mercola.com/results.aspx?q=suicide

    http://www.mercola.com/

    As for;
    “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 – connection.”

    While you have touched on something here, I feel it goes much deeper.
    We need to be aware that a lot of this ‘pop – culture’ of today is actually a top down affair.

    We are indoctrinated/brainwashed from the messages contained in media/Hollywood and the music industries. Add the games and cell phone addictions.
    A break from all this surely could help those in trouble while they are re-grounding
    themselves in a healing process, while at the same time realizing that these are what I call ‘weaponized’, like so much of the news we receive as well.

    Masked Moa,above, touched on the very important issue of healthy diet, nutrition and importance of de-toxicfication with all the chemicals in our food and environment.
    (see Mercola above.)

    Exercise and movement is important as well. Sport, cycling or just walking along the beach with bare feet on the wet sand by the waters edge can be healing in itself.
    A process called Earthing. Ie; recharging the cells of your body.
    (see Mercola.Wet grass also)

    And last but not least,our Western Faiths have separated us from nature,
    ( Ie; put man above the animal kingdom when this not the case at all) while
    some Eastern Faiths teach meditation techniques and very much see the importance of harmony with Nature.

    These last two links very much helped me with my depressive episode in life.
    We all seem to have one,don’t we? It’s part of life,surely,and should not end up
    as a chronic condition with ongoing chemical medication.

    It was the awareness of where humankind stands in the Universal Scheme of Things.

    By taking the focus away from my immediate situation and surroundings and
    realizing that we are all literally part of the cosmos – all life is – and it is a paradigm that has not been taught.
    (In fact I believe it has been kept from us for over 100yrs at least)

    That is we are surrounded in an electro-magnetic environment/world/solar system/Universe and all life, plants included, are all driven by this same phenomenon.
    It explains so much and the evidence, I believe, is now overwhelming.

    Something I believe we should all understand before we die.

    Read ‘The Electric Sky’ first. Much easier. 4th-5th form Physics.
    http://electric-cosmos.org/indexOLD.htm
    Then will ready you for the live site with Conferences.
    https://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/ I find the picture of the day interesting.

    Thunderbolts.info has a new column that deals with the Electricity of Life.

    For more detail read my 2nd reply to Helena found here;
    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/03/12/funny-that-we-can-have-extreme-weather-event-after-extreme-weather-event-still-no-media-mentions-climate-change/

    Cheers.

    • Masked Moa and Iain Mclain are in combination on to it.In 1970 this suicidal mentality was not evident. What has transpired in between now and then explains much. Look at what the capitalist corporations have done to us and in particular the U.S, where the life expectancy is diminishing .They have destroyed the nutritional value of most of our foods. Monsanto and others have contaminated our food supply. The pharmaceutical companies are addicting and destroying the population .The U.S Empire and Western lackeys are destroying the planet with their insane predatory and warmongering behaviour .The problem is capitalism.The solution is socialism.A society that is run on the principles of the greater good prevailing , a sharing of resources, all mankind working together ,the greedy restricted , will not make suicide a viable option!

  14. @Masked Moa & Iain McLain. Valuable information and further understanding very much appreciated.
    Perhaps the time is not too far off when knowledge of our electro-magnetic environment will emerge as a major factor in the process of human liberation. I think this was something understood in more ancient times but styled in other terms.

  15. I agree with a lot of what you say Martyn, except you missing the point that neo-liberalism is actually illegal under New Zealand laws – Westminister Statute the 1st and Magna Carta – which are laws according to the LEGISLATION.COM printout I have.

    You also not seeing that majority of these people are abuse victims, who are SENSITIVE CLAIMANTS under ACC legislation. As ACC are corrupt and not providing the extensive rehabilitation disabled mentally injured abuse victims are entitled to these traumatised people are more susceptible to stress of our grotesque neo-liberal culture.

    Then of course I have just realised neo-liberals purposely terrorise people in order to create fear in the population and jobs for large numbers of people. Worked that out after watching THE SHOCK DOCTORINE about the rise of neo-liberalism and how it was done in places like New Zealand.

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