First up, a minor point of annoyance.

After the headlines there is usually a ‘personal interest’ story from a bereaved parent.

I can’t imagine what it is like to have a love one kill themselves.

Literally.

I have never had a family member or close friend kill themselves.

I do experience grief as my mum died when I was 8 years old. But from what people have told me, it is different when someone you love kills themselves. Like I say - I can’t even begin to know what that feels like and how it affects your life.      

But I do know what it is like to want to kill myself.

And I do sometimes wish that journalists would choose to write a ‘story behind the stats’ from the perspective of people who know what it is like to want to, or even try to, kill yourself.

Many of us can feel very sensitive when the news and social media are awash with talk of suicide from everyone’s perspective but our own. It might be useful to hear from people who have been through those tough times to reassure us there is a way forward not just a way out.  

But that’s just something that makes me ponder.

What makes me angry is that suicide rates get reported with individual perspectives at all.

Because the ‘stats’ are not the same as the ‘stories’.

What should follow the headlines is outrage at how badly society is organised so that some people feel they don’t belong. Because it is that sense of belonging, of being ‘socially integrated’, that affects the suicide rates.

The journalist should be reporting on what creates that lack of belonging and social exclusion.

Things like the laws and policies on housing, education, employment, social welfare, civil and human rights, criminal justice, community development and in New Zealand specifically addressing the inequalities for Maori and other disadvantaged cultures and communities.

The ‘story behind the stats’ should be about what it will take for us to create a society in which every one feels they have a meaningful place and a bright future.

And no small dose of rage at why we are still waiting for this despite living in the most financially prosperous and technologically advanced time in history.

When I joined the first Suicide Prevention Taskforce in 2006 lots of people urged me to ‘give it time’.

It is over 120 years since Emile Durkheim  suggested that suicide might be a social issue as well as an individual one.

How long do we have to wait?


You can read about my own personal journey of how I found a way forward rather than a way out in my book The Procrastinator's Guide To Killing Yourself - click here for details.