Starting with some of my own work, written early to mid 2005.
The death of celebrity stockbroker Rene Rivkin has highlighted how important it is that depression be treated. Depression can lead to suicide. I would like to take that one step further and discuss youth suicide.
Youth suicide is higher in rural Australia than the cities. One of the key factors in our youth committing suicide is isolation.
Isolation comes in many forms.
- Physical isolation – being a remote location.
- Social isolation – being ostracised from a community.
- Emotional isolation – feeling ostracised from your family and friends.
The isolation trigger to suicide can be one of these forms of isolation or it can be a combination of them.
Isolation may pre-date the suicide or attempt of suicide but usually it does not.
I have/had a friend that committed suicide when he was 22. He hung himself. I was not with him the previous night but by all accounts he was fine the night before after a night out with friends. They had planned a trip away the next day.
Personally I think it was a combination of factors but the most pertinent to my mind being the long-term use of marijuana – it was certainly a contributing factor.
There are those that suicide is the ultimate form of selfishness and they’re right. Suicide is all about you. However most suicide is the result of depression and depression is a form of mental illness. Those that commit suicide are usually not rational and indeed if they are they have not considered their externalities – their friends and family.
Suicide as stated is related to depression and depression in turn is related to another illness – Stress. Now I don’t know if WHO classes stress as an illness but I do. Stress can also come from a variety of sources – work related1, family related, emotional fatigue.
Stress is the feeling we get when we bottle things up inside. Noted stress-relievers are physical activities such as sex, sport and a good stoush2.
However, sex is not easy when you are having relationship troubles leading to emotional stress, sport is not easy when you are under pressure to perform putting yourself further under stress and as with sport there is the risk of injury in a blue3 that you may wish to avoid.
Build these things up inside yourself and you may find you are talking to yourself, verbalising those that are giving you trouble so you do not lash out and hurt them but nothing is ever said to them personally. Why? Because you don’t wish to hurt them. Is this selfless? Yes. Is this healthy? No.
This may pass but then because you did not react originally, you’ll sink into the same stress-related depression cycle when a similar situation occurs.
There is another reason that you may not react, you may guess what others reactions will be and you know that will either physically or emotionally hurt you and that’s not a risk you can take. So again you sink further into your stress-related depression cycle.
This can lead to any combination of the forms of isolation. Eventually you are in a vicious cycle of emotional torment and can no longer take the pain. You don’t lash out for fear of hurting someone. You don’t tell anyone how you feel as you don’t think they’ll understand and you think you’ll lose status in whatever circle you move in thus increasing your isolation, so you suck it all in which leads you to the only way you know how to end your pain — taking your own life.
It is the only way you know how to assert control.
Why don’t the suicidal seek a counsellor or counselling then? The answer to that one is easy. Would you tell a stranger all your woes? Would you tell a stranger all your ills? Where is the rapport?
That said, a suicidal person is more likely to trust a stranger for that exact reason. The fact they’re a stranger and they don’t know you.
Why won’t they tell a professional then? For the same reason they trust a stranger. The stranger may move on and you may never see them again thus there is a burden lifted from them. Telling a professional however, could lead to the information becoming public at a later date which brings the whole status scenario into play again.
So what is the solution? The honest answer is I don’t know.
My best guess is to somehow ensure everyone you know gets a dose of endorphins every now and then. Endorphins are a natural high usually through vigorous activities and the known stress relievers I mentioned earlier.
1I include unemployment in work related
2Stoush is old Australian slang for a fight
3Blue has many connotations in Australian slang but in this context it also means fight