15 March 2013

221. Suicide, let's talk about it

When I arrived in Ireland in January I fell in love with the place and I decided to settle in Wexford. Everything looked happy and rosy. People walking along Main Street, the shops, the trawlers at the wharf, the new and modern opera house, the church steeples in every directions, even the rain I liked! Settling in has not been a problem. I was able to find accommodation and open a bank account, receive an electricity bill for proof of my residence here and join a prayer group in a Christian community. In short life seemed to me to be more than bearable here.

And what do I read on the FaceBook page of the Wexford Free Press? That the suicide rate in Ireland is high and that here in Wexford many jump from the long bridge to shorten their lives.

I learned a long time ago in my anthropology studies that the most important thing in any given human society is what you don't say. The job of an ethnologist is to find out the un-said, the un-speakable. This comes out as very true here to-day for me.

On the FaceBook page of the Wexford Free Press I found this call from the Wexford Marine Watch:          

"Saturday 16 March Wexford Main Street 11:00 till 4:00 Wexford Marine Watch volunteers will attempt to make a golden mile of coins starting at North Main Street and stretching to South Main Street. Please come along and put down your coin and help this worthy cause"

And on the Wexford Marine Watch website (www.wexfordmarinewatch.com) you can read this:

"WMW was established in January 2013 primarily to try and combat a long epidemic of suicides off Wexford Bridge - one of the longest bridges in Ireland today.
Most of these individuals are not recovered in time and get swept away by the very strong tidal flows in the Harbour. This can result in drawn-out lengthy searches for weeks, with no sign of closure for the families affected. It is distressing for the Community, the rescuers and the families involved."


Further on the FaceBook page of the Wexford Free Press again you can read:

"Cutting through the bullshit

Suicide. It's a dirty word for some and a tragic way out for others. Approximately one million people die from suicide each year and about 29 million more people try unsuccessfully.More people are taken by suicide than by accidents on the road. So why the hell don't we talk about it?"

Yes, let us talk about it.

An epidemic of suicide. Is suicide a viral disease? Some classify it as a mental disease. It has to be 'classified'. We are so hopeless in front of it. Most people living near or even with individuals in deep depression are taken by surprise when the case is diagnosed as suicidal. Not so much because it would be shameful for the 'patient' to mention it but because the suicidal condition is a secret to keep for further efficiency: if you tell you want to kill yourself, people will prevent you from doing it, so you won't be able to do it. There may be another reason for the secret: a depressed suicidal person craves for love and attention, they hope to the last minute that those around them will see them. But we live in a society where everyone is so occupied at his/her own success that you become blind to those 'beloved' ones by your side.

As an anthropologist I was trained to listen to people, write down every detail of a story even if it does not make sense and then analyse all this to draw some structured picture out if it. Maybe I can help with that.
 

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