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6 min read

This is a story about tiny fractions...

Crisis Call

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. In theory, I'm 1/365th safer today than I am the rest of the year. By my calculations, 0.27% of the time, we are trying to prevent suicide. The other 99.73% of the time, we are not trying to prevent suicide.

There are various ways that we try and make suicidal people feel responsible, selfish and guilt tripped. "Nobody is responsible for your life except you" is something I often hear. This is plainly wrong.

Individualism has led to the collapse of local communities. Individualism has led to silent commuter trains, with everybody listening to their own music through their headphones. Individualism has led to unpleasant levels of competition, where we trample each other for the few jobs. We lie, cheat and steal, because we are all rodents in the rat race.

If we took collective responsibility for our suffering, then we could collectively bargain to improve our situation. With the power of the collective things can improve. As individuals, we are divided and ruled over by cruel elites who care nothing about the mental health epidemic and soaring suicide rates.

Suicide is everywhere.

Suicide is in our schools, where there is enormous pressure to achieve academically. Our exam grades will govern our future so we no longer have a childhood. Bullying is rampant, and it destroys the quality of life of children and drives them to self harm and suicide. Bullying is not getting better. Bullying is getting worse. Bullying was terrible when I was a kid, and unbearable. It must be unspeakably awful now. No wonder self harm, depression and anxiety affect so many children in school.

Suicide is in our workplace, where our jobs are insecure and hidden inflation means that our wages are shrinking in real terms. The steady increase in suicide rates, since the 2008 financial crisis, has now reached the point where it's the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 - 'breadwinners' in the prime of their life.

Suicide is in our homes, where thinking "at least I'm not a starving African" doesn't actually put food on the table and a roof over your head. Bills, debts, rent/mortgage and the many things that we need to live in Western society, are not going away with a few people saying "chin up" and "it can't be that bad... other people have it worse". We've been putting a brave face on everything for years, and some people reach breaking point.

To say that suicide is a selfish act is dumb. To say that suicide is running away from your responsibilities is dumb. To say that suicide is dumping a load of pain onto other people is dumb. In actual fact, a suicidal person has almost definitely been struggling with overwhelmingly awful and painfully intolerable feelings, for longer than you can even imagine. To ask them to continue to prop up the status quo any longer is selfish.

When a person reaches the point where they're attempting suicide, they've exhausted all avenues. When a person attempts suicide, they have taken responsibility for their own life. A person attempting suicide has tried everything that they have the means to change. They're out of ideas. They're out of energy. They've gone as far as they're able to go... on their own.

To make accusations that suicide is running away from problems, selfish, is why suicidal people feel so isolated and alone. Taking your own life is not something you do, surrounded by loving friends and family. Attempting suicide is done when you're all alone. Suicide is just you, and death.

You'd be surprised how people step back when you reach the point of considering the end of your own life. People don't want to be near you. People don't see you anymore. People shun you, like you're a leper, like you're a ticking time bomb.

You'd be surprised at how many days I've spent in hospital, all alone, no visitors. That hurts. That sends a message.

It's easy to put something on social media saying "you'd be missed if you died" but, seriously, how much does that really reconcile with that person's experiences? If you say you'd miss them, then when was the last time you actually took the time to see them? When was the last time you actually took advantage of the fact they're still alive?

It's a binary thing: people are either alive, or they're dead. There's no use saying "we didn't know what to do" when somebody's dead. There's a spectacular lack of discussion and action around improving the lives of people who are suicidal. Instead, there is an endless stream of trite platitudes, that you've heard over and over again.

Believe me, I've got plenty of perspective. All that "it isn't so bad" bullshit, and the "other people have it worse" bullying is the reason why we arrived at this state where suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Suicide kills 3 times as many men as it does women. Believe me when I say that I want to go to Africa and distribute food and clean water. Believe me when I say I want to pull Syrian children out of the rubble.

Aren't you all just being total dicks though, if you expect our most suicidally depressed people to be the ones acting charitably? Why should the mentally ill be doing good work, while everybody else just keeps making bombs to drop on Syria, and working jobs that economically enslave the developing world?

I've got plenty of perspective, and what I see is a selfish society. What I see is collective insanity, where we are working bullshit jobs. We're working jobs that actually destroy lives. What I see is a bunch of people whose mental health and will to live are being badly damaged, and a bunch more people who want things to stay the same or get even worse.

How bad does it have to get? Does it have to be your son or daughter who takes their own life before you get it?