Is A Minister For Suicide - A Cop-Out?


Imagine there was a dangerous road in your town. The road had existed since times before cars and had rarely changed, grown or adjusted since. Daily, people were being seriously injured and often killed as a result of it. People struggled to even talk about it. Not just because nearly everyone knew someone impacted by the road but because the scale of the problem just seemed too large. I mean, the road was really old and it was going to take a lot of work.

Now, imagine that ‘enough was enough’ and finally people began to speak up. They couldn’t have this road doing what it was doing any more and they made themselves heard. The government listened and formed a plan and quickly began to build a hospital on the side of the dangerous road so that the people could be seen medically within minutes of an accident every time.

Would you be happy? Would it be the right thing to do? I mean, they are doing something after all and it will undoubtable save some lives, right?

Well, I am not buying it. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn up at the site of the new hospital and lay down in protest where they intend to build and I would be the first to celebrate each and every life that was saved by having a new hospital so close by…. but I wouldn’t be happy.

This is my fear with this new idea of appointing Ministers like fire fighters, arming them with a hose and setting them about putting out the flames. The recent appointment of a Minister For Suicide followed in the footsteps of the ones for children of alcoholics and one for loneliness and will undoubtedly help to save lives… but I cannot help but feel like it is putting a plaster on an infected wound.

We live in an ever changing world. One that us adults cannot keep up with and yet we give our children less and less support. We take away the money at the source. We remove the things that do not create an instant stat like youth services and create young adults that are lost and devoid of purpose. While we argue about whether we should leave or remain, or who’s working hard enough, or whatever else it may be, the government finds money when it needs it and our children are left to go at it alone.

This is not a political article, this is about us all looking at ourselves and asking what we are doing?! Have we become the equivalent of a dysfunctional home, like parents constantly bickering and then wondering what is wrong with their children?!

Our young people are struggling more and more and yet we tackle that with cop-out lines like ‘its all social medias fault’. A cop-out that we put as our latest Facebook status I might add. Social media is no more to blame than drugs and alcohol. What is to blame is what we are doing to support our children in the new world we consistently create and chuck them in the deep end of…. ‘But don’t worry, if you can’t swim there is a Minister For Drowning’.

These Ministers are not a bad thing, please do not make that be my lasting point. 5,821 people aged 10 and over took their own lives in 2017. After the appointment, I expect that number to drop as a result but there is a long path of pain that leads to suicide and it’s the beginning of that path where we need to begin to look at, as well as the end. Otherwise we continue to create suicidal people to save and that should not be our aim.

Until we address the devastating impacts of the environments on young people properly, are we not simply building hospitals closer to dangerous roads?

Ultimately, we need to recognise that we need to become more pro-active in our approach and support, especially with our young people. I hope that will be the Ministers aims but I don’t hold my breath because ultimately success for the Minister will not lie in preventing people becoming suicidal but rather saving those in crisis. Something that is to be celebrated but that should not come as a mask for not tackling the root cause.

Josh Connolly