Scott Morrison recently took to social media to promise that he’ll eliminate suicide in this country. As one of the citizens with this “curse”, the PM is way off the mark.
Soon after the election, Scott Morrison visited my news feed. Strolling alongside a strip of golden breakwater, he spoke in empathetic tones. Suicide, he told me, is the greatest problem that needs to be solved in his Australia.
Suicide takes far too many Australians, devastating families and local communities. One life lost to suicide is one too many, which is why my Government is working towards a zero suicide goal. pic.twitter.com/VvFPaPTzzZ
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) July 16, 2019
According to Morrison, “one life lost to suicide is one too many, which is why my Government is working towards a zero suicide goal,” which sounds empathetic at first, but PR spin when you stop to think about it. In the interest of full disclosure, I possess suicidal tendencies, I am oft-stalked by the so-called black dog. I may choose to end my own life, I may not.
Yes, I’m one of Morrison’s lost flock. However, suicide isn’t the cause of my suicidal thoughts.
What we need, which is to say, the mentally ill, is normalisation. Being painted as a drain on the taxpayer, or a pawn in a political game does not help.
What I require, is something we all do. I require steadier work, work that I can rely on, as I need that to fund my therapy. Beyond the allocated partially covered referrals via the mental health plan, you’re on your own. As it stands, services are out of reach of most Australians, especially those working on perpetually casual contracts.
One cannot afford to risk building a relationship with a therapist, on the off-chance that your job will suddenly not exist. Help is reserved for those who can afford it.
I’m one of Morrison’s lost flock. However, suicide isn’t the root cause of my suicidal thoughts.
Having the help and going cold turkey, is the issue. Choosing to self medicate, because you can afford that, is the issue.
Oscillating between well and unwell is a tightrope. You’re either numb and detached, or you do something about it. Once you tip-toe your way to feeling and acceptance, all the suppressed pouring emotions that go with it, it is dangerous and extremely difficult to turn back to your starting point. I’m also quite entitled, there are so many more so worse than I, in that I was able to find therapists, I was able to shop myself around. Many do not.
Those who have to survive on the meagre nature of welfare, who have to survive two foes, dodging life’s accidents and managing the thoughts that tell you you’re nothing when your government believes you to be close to it.
Morrison’s clip offers the statistics, who is at risk. Young, old, the indigenous, the men between 40-55. He doesn’t tell the ‘how’, he just describes the victims. But we already know the we, it’s us.
It reminds of George W. Bush’s “war on terror”, his PR campaign against a great undefined evil, one that was enacted to defeat a tactic, an action. Morrison’s war on suicide is the same thing. He’s not touching the root causes, he’s focusing on a target to hit. Both are targeting the end, not the means. Suicide is not something to eliminate, it’s an action we choose. It’s not a number you can quantify, whittle down to zero. It’s the effect of many causes, the final action when everything else has been exhausted.
If Morrison wants to succeed, he’ll have to ensure that victims are heard, those who harmed them be punished (and not protected), he’d have to somehow eliminate inter-generational trauma, he’d have to create more jobs, he’d have to raise welfare, he’d have to uniformly decrease the cost of mental health, and guarantee the standard of on-going care. He’d also have to eliminate the Robo-debt system that punishes the at-risk, and has resulted in suicides of those who could not pay the bill.
There’s been nothing in the Morrison we’ve seen so far that indicates he possesses the ambition, or the empathy to pull it off. After all, we already know how much he cares for victims, both at home or some pacific hell-hole.
Simply put, he’d have to tear down the country he already loves so much, and start again. Until that gaudy day arrives, the only lesson I can take is that I’m one of the people the Prime Minister has a problem with.