Flavell fails on suicide

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, July 28th, 2011 - 45 comments
Categories: health, jobs - Tags: ,

Last week, Jim Anderton said that the tidal wave of youth unemployment we’re experiencing will lead to more suicides. He’s right. The best response from the Right: slash young people’s wages and that might create a few more jobs. But Te Ururoa Flavell’s suggestion to ostracise and condemn the dead is just as bad.

After a pair of suicides by young men in his electorate, Flavell has suggested that suicide victims shouldn’t be allowed tangi and shouldn’t be buried with their families. Instead they should be buried at the entrance of the cemetery so their deaths will be “condemned”. Apparently, this will make suicide a worse option and stop it’s ‘glorification’.

I’m not sure what world Flavell is living in but it ain’t this one.

  • First, who is glorifying suicide?
  • Second, if you’re suicidal do you really care that much about what happens to your body afterwards? And,if you are feeling suicidal part of that is probably feel alienated from society. I would have the thought of being dishonoured once your dead would heighten that feeling, if anything.
  • Third, if the idea is to stop ‘copycat’ suicides how does treating the dead person differently, in a way that both confirms their special outsider status and stops people who care about them from grieving normally, help? In the recent cases, a young man hanged himself and one of his mates, distraught at his loss, later did the same. This is not copycatting of people doing something ‘cool’; it’s a chain reaction or domino effect of grief. Preventing a person’s death being dealt with in the normal cultural context would only make it harder for their vulnerable friends and family to deal with.

Either Flavell is a reactionary who has no better ideas for stopping undesirable behaviour than to punish, even if the punishee is already dead. Or he’s got no ideas about dealing with the real causes of youth suicide and has fallen for the ‘we must do something, this is something, we must do this!’ fallacy.

Because there are real causes of youth suicide. People don’t do things for no reason. Our behaviour is strongly influenced by our experiences and our life situation. As Anderton noted, unemployment is a big cause of youth suicide. It creates alienation and hopelessness that becomes too much for some.

We even have the stats to prove it (nicked from Marty here)

I want Flavell to go away, have a think, and come back with some real solutions. Getting young people, especially young men, into meaningful activity would be the place to start. When you consider the costs of letting them remain unemployed, in benefits, in lost wages and taxes, and, most importantly, in lives, the case for government investment in jobs for young people is clear.

Or maybe Flavell’s beyond redemption and we should hope Annette Sykes knocks him of at the election.

45 comments on “Flavell fails on suicide”

  1. Zorr 1

    The more the Maori party flails trying to fight Hone and shore up their own disillusioned support, the more they look like they truly deserve Brand Key…

  2. higherstandard 2

    I think he made an honest mistake due to frustation, sadness and desperation. I’m prepared to cut him some slack.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Go ahead and cut him some slack if you wish; however do you think that his comments are correct and should be followed through into the actions he suggested?

    • ak 2.2

      Same here, seems highly out of character. But only if there’s a rapid backtrack and apology to the thousands of bewildered families he’s just assaulted.

      • Tigger 2.2.1

        Cut him slack? Speaking out about suicide is highly charged. Either come up with something sensible or shut up.

        Flavell needs to look at why young people kill themselves and work on those issues. Shaming families will do nothing but increase heartbreak for those left behind (and it’s fucking heartbreaking by the way). I know many young Maori and Pacific Island men in particular who suicided because they were struggling with sexuality. Attitudes in their communities and families didn’t help. Perhaps one good place to start?

    • felix 2.3

      I tend to agree, hs. Emotional times make for stupid outbursts that are regretted later.

      But I’m also with ak, he’s got to realise what he’s done and apologise. Right now.

    • Blighty 2.4

      he wrote the column. This wasn’t some off the cuff remark. And it took him days to apologise.

      We know he’s only doing that for form’s sake.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    When you give people no place in your society, no role, no way to be productive and contribute, no means to make a livelihood, the results are going to be bad. Ranging in depression and anger to extreme steps like suicide.

    So sad to think that some young people think that the only way they can achieve recognition and honour in their communities is to pass on.

    Isn’t it the usual story with many talented artists? Barely recognised while alive, more popular and talked up after death.

    We’d do better to value our young people from the start, and give them contributing roles in society.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Either Flavell is a reactionary who has no better ideas for stopping undesirable behaviour than to punish, even if the punishee is already dead. Or he’s got no ideas about dealing with the real causes of youth suicide and has fallen for the ‘we must do something, this is something, we must do this!’ fallacy.

    That’s not an either/or option. Flavell is a reactionary with no better ideas and he’s going for the fallacy because he has no ideas.

  5. Oligarkey 5

    The male youth suicide rate tripped between 1990 and 1996 last time the Nats were in power. Obviously nothing to do with the National Party collapsing the economy through slashing state spending (youth unemployment went up to 30%), whilst drastically cutting family benefits and the unemployment benefit.

    Now, do the National Party hierarchy practice satanism? John Key could be possessed? He seems to adopt any kind of persona he wants with an unnerving ease. I’m just finding it hard to understand these people otherwise.

  6. Oligarkey 6

    He looks possessed in this photo:

    http://i582.photobucket.com/albums/ss268/anterelic/JKhotdog.jpg

    BTW – Flavell thinks he’s the lord of the underworld now? I condemn thee for thine severe depression? What a sicko.

    • mik e 6.1

      Oligarkey he,s preparing to do a deal with Don Brash

    • freedom 6.2

      I know you are simply generalizing but i humbly ask that you do not play to the ‘suicide = depressed’ stereotype. That action is part of the problem and will never allow honest discussion towards a solution. Suicide is not always a result of depression but often traced to economic stress and other daily pressures. Much work has been done on the symptomatic stages of depression in relation to suicide and it is beginning to be understood that they do not always correlate.

      Historically, depression is a chronically misunderstood illness and by marrying suicide to depression
      you do a disservice to both and limit the opportunities for developing an understanding of either

    • bbfloyd 6.3

      the pic shows yet another aspect i hadn’t seen since his catwalk days.

  7. freedom 7

    This is a subject where honesty is the single most important factor. So, I am one of those who have had more experience with suicide than they would like. Like many in NZ i have had several friends fall under its weight. I have also had to work hard on recovering from situations where the concept of suicide was a regular visitor to my own life.

    I believe in non-violence and have done for over thirty years. As a teen i began to see violence was a reactionary tool that was inneffective and only contributed to more conflict instead of resolving it. With that said, Flavell’s comments riled me like nothing else i have ever known and if i saw him on the street i would have had trouble not walking up and decking the prick.

    His words were unforgivable comments from a man who usually has a more level head. No apology will be accepted. He spoke what he believes and obviously considered his position. He should not be allowed an opportunity to weasel his way out of this with a few words of regret.

    New Zealand has ignored suicide and left it in the too hard basket for too long. Suicide is part of the human condition and will always be. What we do not have to put up with is the exploding volume of deaths we are experiencing. If you know someone who you suspect is having trouble, talk to them, get them help. You do not have to think someone is suicidal to acknowledge they are having trouble. Show them that there are options and the easiest way to do that is be there for them.

    Apart from getting to know your neighbors, helping strangers and being a decent human, donating to the support groups is still the best way for the general public to help those most in need. Many potential victims of suicide are still with us because of the incredible work done by the various volunteers who man phone lines around the country. These services rely heavily on donations and as more and more people can afford less and less, this situation will deteriorate.

    A person should be able to go to a GP and say openly and honestly that they have suicidal thoughts without the end result being assumptions of severe mental illness. Many people who take their own lives were high functioning and give no outward signs of depression or serious illness. Some suicides are driven by financial stress or relationship breakdowns. Suicidal thoughts do not mean you are mentally deficeint, it means you are having trouble and would like some help. As a comparative medical analogy, When you get chest pains it does not mean you need a heart transplant. Suicide attempts should also not be treated as a criminal act. That offence is a hangover and should be stricken from the books. NZ used to be a country that prided itself on being a community that cares. Let’s work towards rebuilding that.

    • vendetta 7.1

      Completely agree, freedom, and you’ve put it very eloquently. That last paragraph should be printed off hundreds of times and stuck somewhere everyone in the country will read it.

      • freedom 7.1.1

        you have my ok to use it, check with the owners of this site first re legal permissions

        • lprent 7.1.1.1

          We don’t care. We haven’t bothered to put explicit copyright notices on the site. But I must think about doing one at some stage to remove the implicit copyright.

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1.1

            open source type copyright agreement?

            • freedom 7.1.1.1.1.1

              small headscratcher – I wonder how it works if content taken from an open copyright source is presented to a source that restricts content previously published on another site. For example the T&C used by Stuff Comments which denies previously published content being presented in comments, as it protects them from infringement of copyright.

          • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1.2

            Choose a License

  8. Bill 8

    ‘Flavell fails on suicide’ reads the header. ‘Better luck next time’, says I.

  9. logie97 9

    I may have missed something here but surely we are not defining degrees of how people’s lives end to determine a measure of grieving for or value on that life …

    Is there going to be a rating scale :

    Let’s see – death through:
    . driving under the influence.
    . not wearing a seat belt.
    . bungy jumping.
    . result of an “extreme sport” accident.
    . heart disease related to diet and or other poor dietary conditions.
    . head injury as a result of a brawl.
    . helicopter accident.
    . piloting a single engined aircraft.
    . piloting a twin engined aircraft.
    . et cetera, et cetera.
    … this gets more and more Monty Pythonal the more one considers it (the closing scene of the Life of Brian).

    All the above would appear to be as a result of an individual’s decisions (some through putting oneself in a dangerous position).

    • bbfloyd 9.1

      no logie. you seen to be the only one doing that…. why? i couldn’t begin to guess..

  10. vendetta 10

    I was so angry to read about Flavell’s comments. How utterly stupid and cruel to heap more pain and suffering onto families who will already struggle for years to come to terms with what has happened. My brother committed suicide in his teens, and both my parents were thoroughly distressed at the article, my father particularly so after listening to various talkback nutters banging on about how those who suicide need to be ostracised as weak, cowardly and stupid.

    The biggest barrier to dealing with the suicide issue is ignorance – Flavell’s opinion proves this point perfectly. No understanding whatsoever of why people become suicidal or of constructive ways to help, and each time suicide comes up in the blogs and on talkback I never cease to be amazed by the views displayed there. Because suicide touches relatively few people and is almost never talked about in a constructive way, the general public really has no idea.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Because suicide touches relatively few people

      Agree in way, but should keep in mind there are far more suicides per year than road fatalities…

      • vendetta 10.1.1

        Absolutely – no denying it’s common, and far more so than it should be. But in my experience, most of the families affected need to seek out support groups and forums in order to reach others who share their experience – suicide is (thankfully!) not something your average New Zealander has experienced. Hence the lack of constructive knowledge among the general populace.

  11. mik e 11

    This comment will not go down well with Maori. On top of that he and his coalition party has seen a massive increase in Maori unemployment 3 fold.

  12. Terry 12

    I am a person very highly qualified academically and professionally, yet for many years I was diagnosed with “chronic depression” and several times attempted to kill myself (coming very close). I have posted comments in the NZ Herald and do not wish to repeat those now. Flavell has hurt me as he has many others. Humanly speaking what he said is unforgiveable (God alone I expect will forgive). People do and say dreadful things and think an “apology” is sufficient to get them off the hook (look at Rupert Murdoch). I do not know which Party Flavell belongs to and I do not care. What I hope is that his constituents will take careful note.
    Poor old Flavell offers the lamest ever excuse, “frustration” if you please! Which one of us lives without frustrations? Do we all react to them in this vicious manner?
    Politics and politicians have a lot to answer for when they make young people this desperate. Mr Flavell, answer for yourself what is the solution. Start with a show of prayer and compassion, and take a good hard look at yourself.

  13. burt 13

    Jolly Jim on his favourite hobby horse again.

    • McFlock 13.1

      Hobby horse?
      Burt, that’s pretty fucked up.

    • If I was Jim’s daughter I would have killed myself as well …… good on her.
      To wake up and find you are the product of dog turd must have been sole destroying … and it was 😉

      [lprent: Did I ever mention that I know a number of Anderton family quite well. Which is the only reason I am reining in my anger at your crass stupidity and constraining myself to giving you a two week ban. ]

  14. prism 14

    I’ve noticed earlier comment from this man which indicated s a lack of deep thought. He reminds me of Ron Marks’ and his no-nonsense military approach to problems.

  15. Descendant Of Smith 15

    It’s even more a stupid comment when you consider that burying gang members, drug dealers, people who abuse their children, those who steal money, murderers, rapists etc – i.e. those who harm others rather than themselves would still be OK and not worthy of his opprobrium.

    I’ve had staff and members of their families who have committed suicide, my son has found a 14 year old who had hung himself, I have had to support people previously unknown to me when their family members / partners have committed suicide, had to deal with my children’s friends and schoolmates committing suicide.

    I’m unsure how many people in NZ haven’t been touched in some way by this and I suspect that it’s not too many.

    To even suggest that in some way that punishing the person after the event in some way will be preventative seems somewhat bewildering and would seem more likely to be punishing the living members of the persons family by denying them usual custom and practice.

    Surely it’s enough that they have lost a loved one without causing them more heartache and grief.

  16. felix 16

    Following up, has he apologised yet?

  17. As the shit storm gets worse, and the fuckwits in power do nothing except make things a fucking sight worse, suicide will become a serious option for a lot of people, it would be great to see bankers and their scum mates taking the high jump, but alas suicide is more a bottom up ‘custom’.
    With any luck we will see a lot more Anders Breivik’s taking action, my only wish is they start with the current scum fucks rather that the future ones.

    The governments of the world do not give one flying fuck about the people NOT ONE, they are selfish pricks, and like scum they float on the surface of this fucked up society, I thank my god I did not create victims for them to continue to abuse, the children I did not have will never be molested by the ruling cartel of bankers and so called public servants.
    Any fool that thinks voting will change things deserves to watch the inevitable starvation of their children. They are all lying to you, and if you are foolish enough to believe the bullshit then don’t complain, you have all got what you voted for ……………. idiots.

    John Keys, Helen Clark and all their mates have played you guys like fiddles. Alas as Rome burns that will be the only ‘music’ in town.

    If any child survives the next 20 years they will not only curse you for having them, but will also ask what you did to help them, because 20 years hence there will be no sign of it, you did squat.

    It was fun while it lasted … humans on the planet that is 😉

  18. If people truly loved their children … and understood our situation, and how the wankers are only making things worse, they would be burning themselves on the steps of parliament, and even that wouldn’t wake the rest of ‘society’ up

    But lets look on the bright side of life … in 20 – 30 years time human suffering will end, and in a billion years ‘the planet’ will have forgotten us, thinking Fukushima et al will have disappeared by then, with the background radiation only quadruple what it is now.

  19. freedom 19

    So as predicted, a Member of Parliament who spouted shit before taking off his pants has realised he needs some toilet paper and sure enough Stuff provides ample. Printing a form article with no respect to the subject, it could have been written about a call to change the colour of parking meters.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/5359560/MP-apologises-for-suicide-comments

    To Mr Flavell, I unreservedly state that your venal apology has not been accepted by this registered voter

  20. The comments by Flavell are sad to say the least. The only comfort (if that’s the word) is that it did not come from the political left. I understand he has now apologized ,it’s too late the damage has been done. He should resign now.

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