This has nothing to do with modelling, nothing to do with WWII. This is my own personal catharsis while I need a few days to deal with some issues. My apologies.
Last Saturday night, September 14th a young girl just a few months past her 15th birthday put a gun to her head and took her own life. The who, why, how doesn’t matter here. That’s not what this here is about. Because of the relationship one of my daughters had with this girl our own family fallout has been, well, bad. Not really any other way to put it, but again that’s not really what this here is about.
It’s about the fact that we can’t say “suicide” out loud. New Zealand has the developed world’s second highest level of teen suicide, last year 80 of our children killed themselves. But we’re so afraid of it, so afraid that if we call it what it is that we’ll see copy-cat suicides because there have been cases of that in the past. And so we decided we shouldn’t talk about it but rather make sure there was no media coverage. So yeah, her death passed without a single line in the newspaper save for obituaries.
And I don’t mean that as a society, that’s actually an official policy here, the media can’t call a death a suicide until the corner’s ruling comes out and that can be weeks, even months down the line by which time people have moved on. So instead we get news reports of “A man was found dead from gunshot wounds, police are not treating the death as suspicious”. You can say that, but you can’t say “suicide”, not even “suspected suicide”. In this case we didn’t even get that.
This is a small town, roughly 3500 people, with a small College of some 300 plus. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. So everyone knows what happened. Yet still the school sends home letters reminding us that we aren’t to call it suicide. Not yet anyway, not until it’s official. By then we’ll have all moved on, by then there will be people who don’t want to revist it. Too hard, too painful.
I don’t blame the school, like I said it’s official policy, they have to say that. But my other daughter wants to talk about it. We can in the home, but I’m no expert. They need to be able to call it what it is and have someone who can answer all their questions and point them to who or where to turn if they feel that way themselves. It shouldn’t be something you have to try and seek out information on by yourself.
Children have questions and they have them now. They’re not stupid, they know what happened, especially in this day and age where social media and a mobile phone in every teenager’s pocket means every kid in town knew before the sun set. Don’t hide from it and pretend it isn’t happening. Kids are notorious for not asking for help, we have to pave the way for them to make it as simple as posible for them to get help if they need it.
Since the policy to not give media coverage to suicides came about we haven’t seen a big drop off. Quite the opposite, last year was a record. Our kids are still killing themselves, still doing it more and more. Only now they get to do it in secrecy and the rest of us go about our day with no idea just how bad it is until it happens on our own doorstep.
Apparently the Government is reviewing the policy of media coverage of suicides right now. So if you’re a Kiwi and if this can in any way affect you, then support change, because what we have right now isn’t working.