This post is a response to RO’s comment under the previous blog. The response has become too long to put it as a comment. I also thought that the issue raised deserve posting as a new blogpost.
Let me start with a couple of points. First, I don’t aim to answer all the points, I only focus on those which I find most important. Second, I acknowledge the arguments made. They are at the very least worth debating. Here is my response, in which I also offer some response also to Mary’s comment under the previous post.
1. There is a difference between a campaign and a talking support, like the Samaritans’. I would not offer my ‘strategies’ as strategies of talking, also for reasons that RO explains, but more importantly because I think any such conversation must be seen and done in context without a set agenda. But there is a difference between talking to an individual and sending a campaign message to ‘no one’. The comparison is flawed.
2. I find the current strategies lacklustre, probably to the point of being useless (note the comments in the third response to my post). And so, if we really think that it’s worth having a suicide prevention campaign (which is not obvious at all), perhaps it’s worth basing it on what people say. And, importantly, offer a response to what people say. You see, I reject the idea that the only way to prevent suicide is to offer more euphemising, more going round the bush. I think that telling people they will no longer love anyone is better, though perhaps it is hard-hitting. Same with telling people that suicide is not a gift. so, perhaps, along the Samaritans’ line – you might want to kill yourself, but at least stop thinking you’re doing anyone a favour, you’re not.
3. Does the sentence ‘suicide – it’s the end of everything’ echo what people think? Maybe. Maybe for some. Except RO offers an opinion, I offer hundreds of suicide notes which contradict that opinion. What I offer is not based on what ‘I think’ or on ‘my experience’. It is based on research. Time and again, those writing suicide notes write them in a way suggesting that they will have a life after suicide. That they will participate in their family’s affairs, that they will care for their loved one. But they will not.
The second commenter makes a different point. What if for some people suicide-as-end is a source of relief? By implication, such an argument might suggest that a message I propose might be encouraging people to commit suicide. I have no good answer to that – research is needed. However, it is now accepted that talking about suicide does not prompt people to kill themselves.
4. Fascinatingly, I am yet to come across a challenge to the ‘There is hope’ message. And yet, you could argue that a response to it could be ‘No, there f…ing isn’t, good bye’. Can it not be seen as urging people to see the despair in which they find themselves more clearly? In my view it can!
More generally, you can always turn a slogan against itself. But the ‘hope’ slogan has the suicidological imprimatur, so it’s OK. And if people turn it, that’s tough.
You see, I think that the messages such as ‘It’s OK to talk’ are only irritating and patronising. They assume that people are stupid enough not to see that it’s ‘OK to talk’. Still, they also have the seal of approval of suicidological celebrities. So, they’re great.
5. As I said in the post, I have no idea whether what I suggest would work. If anything, research would have to be done into responses/reactions to, perceptions of, and at least perceived usefulness of what I suggest. But for pity’s sake, let’s at least pretend to assume that the mainstream suicidological views could be wrong, at least in some respects. The assumption that you can’t do it things differently, no matter what, is nonsense.
But there is a different agenda as well. I (and others as well) find suicidology incredibly full of itself. It’s been saying the same things for decades. Only the suicidological celebrities are changing. I find it extraordinary how persistent it is in following the same grooves, trying very hard not to look around. If there were a competition for a motto for suicidology, my entry would be: Let’s do more of the same. Forever.
6. My final response goes to Mary’s comment. Access to quality, free mental health care, together with financial support for those in need doesn’t need debate. It is an obvious course of action.