TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS CONTENT WHICH MAY BE DISTRESSING. This week someone I know killed themselves. I didn't know them well and I had no idea they were struggling with mental illness, so I am really quite shaken by it. Looking back, it explains some of their behaviour, but I didn't put one and two together. I hope I'll learn to recognise it in the future.
In a rather unusual text conversation, a friend and I were discussing suicide. I know, not a conversation you'd expect to have by text but hey, the upside is, I've got a record of it to paste into this post.
Last week a colleague sent a link to this article on Task-Based Thinking (TBT) vs Outcome-Based Thinking (OBT). Briefly, its point was that TBT makes you less productive than OBT because the former leaves you thinking, "What do I need to do today?" instead of, "What outcomes do I want to achieve today?"
I read it, as I have hundreds of similar "be-more-productive" blogs, and found myself getting really pissed off. Why the hell do I need to be more productive? What's wrong with doing what needs to be done and feeling like that's enough?
On 13 August the story broke about the suicide of a prisoner on remand at Mount Eden Prison.
In a separate story I found that the fine to Serco, contracted to run the joint, for the death of a prisoner in custody from unnatural causes is $150,000, exactly the same as the fine for an escaped prisoner.
I felt compelled to tweet:
They feel familiar and yet they're not. You feel sad but there's no relationship to mourn. Life goes on with nothing missing.
Perhaps there's even a subconscious, yet obviously false, belief that someone so well-known would have something to live for. Everything even.
Yesterday I spent the day watching the 2011 NZ Conference on Suicide Prevention run by the Mental Health Foundation. At the end of the day I quipped on Twitter: "A whole day watching the 2011 NZ Suicide Conference online … I feel a bit like slitting my wrists." While being a little irreverent I was also responding to a real concern that, overall, I'd heard nothing at the conference that I felt really did more than talk about an inconceived problem.
The theme of the conference was, "How do we talk about suicide?" I think we need to ask the question, "How do we talk about why people commit suicide?"
Even the two international indigenous experts said little that focussed on anything more than dysfunction in individuals. Canadian keynote Normand d’Aragon, Co-founder and Director of First Nations and Inuit Suicide Prevention Association of Quebec spread the lens wider only to encompass dysfunctional families, where suicide was observed as a pattern in families where unresolved issues were passed spiritually from one generation to the next.