Poverty Watch 10

Written By: - Date published: 9:42 am, November 3rd, 2012 - 14 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

Welcome to Poverty watch, a weekly update on the National government’s lack of response to the urgent and growing issue of poverty in NZ. A lot of background issues and links are set out in Poverty Watch one two and three.

In a bizarre comment this week, John Key opened a can of worms that I bet he wishes that he left closed:

Poverty not only reason for suicide spike, says Key

Prime Minister John Key said deprivation may be one of the reasons behind the large number of youth suicides but it was not an explanation by itself.

“Of itself, just being poor doesn’t mean someone will commit suicide … the children of very well-off families committed suicide so it is not as clear as that.”

Key’s comments sound to me like those of a man whose conscience troubles him. “It is not as clear as that” is a weak attempt to deny what is in fact perfectly clear – poverty is strongly implicated as a cause of suicide (e.g. see one old account, and one new).

Poverty and inequality are on the rise in NZ. Suicide (including youth suicide) is on the rise. When confronted with these facts a leader would commit to fixing the problem. John Key mumbles that “it is not as clear as that”…

Poverty Watch always ends with the following list, the National government’s response to rising poverty in NZ:

• National has not yet set any target for reducing poverty
• ?

14 comments on “Poverty Watch 10”

  1. ianmac 1

    “It is not as clear as that”
    His next words were sure to be, “I can find plenty of others who would tell me that poverty is not a cause of suicide.

  2. Treetop 2

    Poverty is a cause of stress and there is a strong correlation between stress and suicide. The way I see it is when you reduce poverty the rate of suicide declines regardless of other factors (crime, addiction, mental illness).

    Having a surplus of money allows more treatment options and the ability to counteract the stress by shopping, going on short or long trips, going to dinner/eatting better quality food, being entertained and just not sitting at home with nothing to do but watching TV/DVDs, being on the computer and listening to the radio/stereo or waiting for a txt/phone call.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Ah, no, after the welfare reforms there will be more suicides.

      • kiwicommie 3.1.1

        If people commit suicide they are no longer on welfare (or [un]employed) so National can claim that unemployment went down, the welfare system as it stands promotes and endorses suicide; albeit indirectly through welfare cuts and lack of support for the unemployed.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 4

    A key part of a suicide mindset is holding the belief that you are unable to change the situation you find yourself in, that you cannot influence your destiny.

    Government policies and their implementation directly influence this type of thinking.

    Could it be that people of the far north no longer feel that they can overcome their situations including grinding poverty? Could it be that they are forgotten in the political psychobabble so they just gave up?

    For Key to say the situation is “complex” is deeply insulting to the communities in which the suicides occurred in.

  4. Treetop 5

    To feel as though the situation is hopeless is the trigger. A lot can be done to avoid a person getting to the stage where they feel their situation is hopeless. Government, family and community support is required.

  5. prism 6

    Not being able to see a future worth living is key to anyone committing suicide, rich or poor. Rising suicide comes when more and more people feel like outliers and don’t like the world they are living in.

  6. Dr Terry 7

    Our youth are largely under-valued, heavily criticised by older people (if not roundly condemned – I hear it all the time). Northland is currently highlighted, but the statistics are bad throughout the country. So many young are treated with condescension, discouraged, disparaged. Not respected by society at large, it follows that they suffer huge drop in self-esteem (hence “depression”).

    David Lange posed this deceptively simple question: “What sort of a society do you want?”

    Martin Luther King admonished: “We will have to repent . . . for the appalling silence of the good people.”

    • fatty 7.1

      True…I find almost all young people I come across are polite and kindhearted. I see young people helping others all the time. Some are not, but that’s the same for all age groups.
      As for their values (which are often criticised)…they have been brought up in a consumerist society that is saturated with advertising – what did we think they’d value?

    • As a member of the youth, I have generally given up (if things don’t improve by January-February). While the thought of repatriation to the US scares me a little (culture shock), and finding a job there will be difficult; I can’t let my life be held back by the New Zealand system. With the low wages and a weakening job market here; alongside education cuts and high transport costs, it is getting to the point that even some parts of the US are better off than New Zealand i.e. because a manufacturing and jobs boom in the US vs a dying manufacturing sector in NZ and few jobs on offer.

      New Zealand is losing young people (like me) every day, the government response is to raise taxes (GST especially), make it harder to get student loans; while doing nothing in terms of stimulus to get businesses hiring again. By attacking the young, the government are pushing people out of the country who would have otherwise paid taxes and contributed to society. 😉

      • kiwicommie 7.2.1

        But saying that, one of my friends is suggesting I move to Europe because there are universities that you can get into with low (virtually no fees).

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