I’ve read of a recently publicized (heretofore unsuccessful) suicide pact made by a group of young ‘Natives’*, around 12-15 years old, and that story can be found here. Under pressure undisclosed in the article, they have been narrowly prevented from completing this pact, not before many of the poor things drank themselves unconscious. Now of course the pressures in action here are no secret, especially if one makes a habit of looking for them.
The homes and ways of life many of these children’s ancestors had established, not always peaceful or healthy themselves, were rendered utterly impossible, disintegrated, and demoralized by the arrival of European disease, religion, and trade opportunity. Combined brute force from Europeans, the poor foresight of the human mind, and the compounding dependence of Natives on Europeans has taken a once strong, proud, and largely effective culture and smashed it to pieces. Further, it’s glued some of those pieces awkwardly to a piece of cardboard and handed it back as if in genuine reparation of the damage. Sadly, the methods we employ do not come close to addressing the root causes of the problems now experienced by the Natives of Canada, and indeed almost every ‘treatment’ applied anywhere, created by the system in place, mandatorally ignores the role of the abstract profit motive, the ownership of natural resources, and the lack of basic elements of self-actualization in the solutions that are applied to such problems as suicide pacts among disoriented, traumatized youth. Some pay lip service to these, but, by virtue of the paradigm that got them elected or hired, they are unable to challenge it’s governing principles, which themselves are the problem.
I was hospitalized recently for a minor mental breakdown I had on my university campus. I was crying loudly into the coat I’d bunched up over my face, and when I came up for air, campus security had arrived. Here is a case-in-point of the fundamental inadequacy of both systemic responses to depressed/demoralized/suicidal people, and to after-the-fact solutions to these situations in general.
Security and I talk for a while, and while the conversation is the “good advice” that any person reasonably accepting of reality knows, but of course, it never helps in the moment. ‘Cause it’s not (only) a lack of intellectual understanding that causes us to do the detrimental things we do to our selves and others. The police then arrive, running through the procedures they’re required to do, necessitated by the mass anonymity of our culture. Because they don’t know me, they have to assume to worst and prepare for that. They were polite (moreso than I) and took me to the hospital (voluntarily at this point) to “talk to someone”.
I’m left there alone, and promptly lose all the progress I’d made in calming myself. I get in about 30 minutes later, still convulsing with unreasonable cognitive dissonance. I couldn’t tell you (both in genuine ignorance and privacy) what I was upset over, but that’s not the point anyhow. I’m visited by an MD first, and after 2 minutes of discussion he leaves. I’m then called a ‘form 1’, a person likely to be a harm to themself or others, despite my clear acknowledgement that people usually come in for these reasons, and sensible explanation that I wasn’t one. Again, how can the doctor trust this well-spoken, even charming kid? He doesn’t know me. Perhaps I’m a gifted sociopath who will jump a bridge the second I’m let out. Again, not in genuine compassion, but due to legal obligation, I’m restricted unnecessarily for 6 hours, greatly exacerbating the stress. Resistance, including not donning the hospital gown, would find me restrained and forcibly clothed. Motherfuck. My meditation practice kicks in, and I swallow a hard reality. Had I ACTUALLY been suicidal, I’d have been much more likely to attempt and succeed by this point, directly due to “the help I needed”, as the article refers such “rescues” by hospitals. I request politely to be revisited by this doctor, and when declined, I offer several suggests to help further what I must assume is their goal: Ensure the safety, comfort, and de-escalation of mentally-suffering patients. Going for a supervised walk. Wearing my clothes. The psychiatrist hurrying the fuck up for fuck’s sake (kept this one to myself). Nothing.
Needless to say, psych arrives, and I’m declared fit to leave within about the same time as it took the MD to not get to know me and pass superficial judgement upon someone practically blindly. The psych at least seemed to know to take me seriously, at face value, and to establish if I was of sound mind and reason with me accordingly. I was, and she did, and I left fucking pissed, not even wanting to talk, as I had simply come to do.
And this is what the false-alarms go through. The interment and sterility and impersonality, save the few compassionate nurses you’ll find, that mental-health patients experience is not help. Help would be the presence of familiar (if also some unfamiliar) supports who understand individual needs, in a scientifically designed comforting space (colour, composition, etc. of a space provably increases or decreases, stress- white fucking walls and bleach-smell don’t do any good for anyone). Further, the provision of socialization, social-identity and a place in the community, basic food, water, shelter, exercise and liberated spare-time, and an instilled love of learning and understanding of co-operation, acceptance, patience, and impermanence are the ingredients needed to preclude suicidal feelings in the first place. I stop talking when I don’t know what I’m talking about, so how to create these for every individual I won’t comment on. However, we do need to acknowledge the flaws inherent to the system we all choose to live in, the unavoidable effects they have in deprivation, scarcity, differential advantage, excessive and avoidable social stratification, unhealthy competition, materialism, and ego. If we wanna actually change things, I mean. Otherwise just keep saying “Yes we can” and keep your face in your ass.
In fact, the most important realization we have yet to make is that most people are mentally unhealthy, in preventable curable ways, as a direct result of this system. But this point will take me down too long a road for the present, so I’ll leave with that.
*In quotes and capitalized to distinguish the proper noun, frankly founded on faulty reasoning, from the actual definition of the word, ‘one who originates from x’, ’cause who on this planet is an alien or foreigner? The lines we draw (and even those drawn by the sea as it rises and falls over time, altering our coasts in the process) are not real, and thus a native of what we call Canada is an arbitrary distinction, both because it’s just Earth of which we are all equally native and entitled, and because there’s no reason to give humans the dominion over it, nor have the people alive today (or even all of their ancestors) necessarily and provably been the “first” to live on any given portion of the land. And then, even if they WERE, nothing follows that gives them more or original rights to anything about the land. Traditonal or historical agreements with an equally unauthorized “government”? Fuck off. It’s an important distinction to make, I feel, if we are to live as a united species in a holistic understanding of reality, a prerequisite to peace and sustainability, inner and outer.