World Suicide Prevention Day

Two of my pupils, several of my teachers, at least one of my contemporaries, and some of my acquaintances, have committed suicide. Our societies have forgotten, or seem not to care now, that pressure is supposed to be a tactic for the short term.

Once I asked a doctor why he had gone into private psychiatric work. Some people will think: obviously, money. He said that as a public doctor he had found that he could not change anything that was causing the illnesses.

A teacher I knew had a death in the playground. A boy had given another boy a tap. It just so happened that this second boy had a hairline crack in the skull. It just so happened that the tiny invisible place got tapped. People have little fractures of all kinds.

Resilience is now being made an additional burden on the pressurised. It is being turned into another part of employees’ self-improvement that they should become ‘more resilient’. Wellbeing is often: providing opportunities for people to ‘cope’ better. It is not: being better ourselves.

People do not need self-improvement. They are fine as they are. I wish I could say that who someone truly is, is the person whom God already knows them to be — but many people cannot tolerate ‘God’ language after all they have seen out of the people who speak it. Leave all words and meaning out of this — there is nothing a person might do this minute that he or she could not do later.

A moment falls between the thought and the act. It can be a long moment. If we want to make that moment long enough for people to be saved (and I mean that in a very basic sense), we must stop piling on. Compliance, wellbeing, policing speech: all these things recapitulate much of the problem; of the pressure.

Being a better person does not mean compliance with courses of self-improvement. It means making better next choices. (When things are overwhelming, choose to do nothing. Choose to do nothing when overwhelmed or in desolation which you had not thought good, back in the time when all other things were equal.) I hope for people evaluating their next choices and not the worth of their lives. Do nothing.


Proofreader, editor, writer — in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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