The 10th of September 2019 is World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). As you may be aware, NZ has one of the highest rates for sucide in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in particular youth suicide.
For these reasons, as well as feeling extremely troubled and saddened by these numbers, we are going to do the only thing a podcast can do, talk about it – TCNZ is observing World Suicide Prevention Day.
Friends, suicide and depression are destressing topics. It is also for some; a reality. Within my own life, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve known of two people who took their own lives.
Data compiled on the WSPD website indicate many of you may be facing similar circumstances, “Every year, suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds”.
The report continues, explaining how this epidemic affects more than just the person commiting the act, “For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviour. Suicidal behaviour includes suicide, and also encompases suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide”.
So why is this happening? It is hard to pinpoint, depression is complex. Dr Prudence Stone of Unicef New Zealand cites poverty as a contributing factor, “The high suicide rate ties in with other data, showing for instance child poverty, high rates of teenage pregnancies or families where neither of the parents have work.”
According to Shaun Robinson of the Mental Health Foundations New Zealand, bullying plays a big role in NZ’s high youth suicide rate; in fact the highest in the OECD. Shaun goes on to explain that a “toxic mix” of high rates of family violence, child abuse and child poverty also play a role, “The country is not doing a good job of supporting its young people to be able to manage the pressure, the stresses, the emotional and mental challenges that they are facing,”
Dr Stone believes the data suggests NZ’s ‘harden up mate’ culture also plays a role, “It puts pressure on men to be of a particular mould, pressure on boys to harden up to become these tough beer-drinking hard men”.
In the future TCNZ will be doing a complete comprehensive investigates episode on suicide, but for now we want to end on a story from an incredible documentary called ‘The Bridge’.
The Bridge is a documentary about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. For one year, the documentarians went to the bridge and filmed the famous suicide spot, stopping many jumpers but capturing many on film also. The filmmakers would then track down the families to provide details on the person who jumped. While not an easy watch, it is a stunning piece of filmmaking, very illuminating on this tough topic. You can find it online.
In this film there is a story from a man named Kevin Hines, a teenager who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and survived.
Kevin goes on to explain that as soon as he jumped, he knew he didn’t want to die. Somehow, against the odds, he didn’t. Kevin now works full time, working to prevent suicide. You can hear the rest of this story by watching The Bridge or just ‘googling’ Kevin Hines to hear him speak. It is pretty inspiring.
“Fuck it, nobody cares”, was the sentiment shared by Kevin just before he jumped. We at TCNZ wrote this to show we do care. Depression is something we have both suffered from at times in our lives and we have immense empathy for the people currently affected by this illness.
Now, we are going to do something that we vowed not to do, give an opinion. Our opinion is this: kindness is important to society. In my opinion, being kind is very underrated. In my darkest days, the kindness of others, even strangers; was what helped pull me through when wrestling with those dark thoughts. The kindness and understanding of the doctors when I finally asked for help, was what I believe began the process of healing.
If you are affected by depression or are going through a time where you are thinking about self-harm. I have linked some resources in the resources below, including the World Suicide Prevention Day website. And remember, we love you and care about you.
Peace and love my friends,
Jessica and Sirius
If you are suffering from depression, suicidal ideation or just need someone to talk to; resources are available:
Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline 0800 543 354 or 09 522 2999 or free text 4357 (HELP)
Suicide Prevention Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOK0)
Youthline 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Samaritans 0800 726 666.
Visit https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/ to find your country.
BBC News, What’s behind New Zealand’s shocking youth suicide rate?, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40284130
Ministry of Social Development, The Social Report 2016 – Te pūrongo oranga tangata, http://socialreport.msd.govt.nz/health/suicide.html
Ministry of Health, Suicide Facts: 2016 data (provisional), https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/suicide-facts-2016-data-provisional
Newstalk ZB, NZ has highest death rate for teenagers in developed world, https://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/kerre-mcivor-mornings/audio/nathan-wallis-new-zealand-ranks-bottom-of-developed-countries-on-youth-mortality-rates/
World Suicide Prevention Day, Home, https://www.iasp.info/wspd2019/
Dir. Eric Steel, The Bridge, 2006