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.
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.