GRIEF AND ANGER
The grieving for young men and women who have ended their own lives has become a wailing. The grief of mothers and fathers, family and friends who wish they'd understood cries out - enough!
We have made the word tapu too long. We avoid talking about suicide but it is a curse on our youth and they are our future. We are involved in this. We need to talk about this. To explore this. Not blame ourselves or the government, but pray about this, and act individually, as families and as friends.
The New Zealand Government has regularly called its own agencies to work more closely with parents, teachers and young people to prevent youth suicide. However they're working with three year old figures. You would never run a business on three year old figures. So what's the real damage?
Each week at least three young New Zealanders take their own lives. Almost everyone you talk to knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone who lost someone this way.
Between 1955 and 1989 the male youth (aged 12-24-years) suicide rate increased 650 per cent. The female rate over that time increased 100 per cent. While the 1999 figures show promise that the problem is being addressed that data still three years old and no-one knows how many suicide attempts there were or how many young people (or people of any age for that matter) who's death in a motor vehicle for example, was listed as accidental when in fact it was deliberate.
There's too much we don't know.
The government has put aside some funding for self esteem programmes. They've got the right idea but compared to other public spending it's hardly enough to raise a ripple in the pond.
Death is big. When someone takes their own life you want to ask so many questions but it's too late. It's bigger than that. Taking license with the words of Marvin Gaye: What the hell is going on?.
It's easy to place blame. The user pays education that puts kids in debt before they start work, the speed with which the world is moving, changing governments and technology, peer pressure, attitudes, relationships, responsibilities and expectations. Be a big brave boy. Don't cry. You can handle it.
We've been desensitized by too many images all at once. Killing, maiming, raping, cursing, smashing, and all in the name of entertainment or news. Our channel surfing, and net surfing has unleashed a tidal wave. Different kinds of glorified death for entertainment. Too much bravado. we're told be political correct and sensitive then contradicted immediately the moment we switch on the box or check out the billboards.
What is blocking our emotions so much that it stops boys and young men wanting to communicate? Is it a macho thing? Be a man. Stiff upper lip, son. Stiff upper lip, son. You'll get over it.
What is it that comes in that stops people from sharing. Is it our fixed and crusty attitudes, our pride and stubbornness that keeps us from reaching out no matter how old we are? Inflexibility prevents us from growing, from exploring and discovering who we really are. If you won't bend you'll break. Let's get real. Saying "Hey everything's just fine" when it's not, is not fine It's okay to cry and share your feelings. Don't walk away. Listen! Listen!
Why don't young men talk, really talk about what they're feeling? Are we all too busy about our business to be mentors, to provide a listening ear, to talk things through, to take time. Let us find patience when things don't work out the way we would like with the youth in our families and workplaces and schools. Let us step back and put ourselves in their place and think before we react. What else is going on that we don't know about. How can we help? Are we all too busy about our business to be mentors, to provide a listening ear, to talk things through, to take time. Let us find patience when things don't work out the way we would like with the youth in our families and workplaces and schools. Let us step back and put ourselves in their place and think before we react. What else is going on that we don't know about. How can we help?
Where are the ones who step in the gap, those who hear the inner cry and point the way ahead? Where are the solid father figures, the men who you look up to. You know just like your mates but a bit wiser?
Death is such a personal thing. It's about horrific loss, balanced only by good memories that will never fade. We live in one of the most wonderful places on the planet. We have every reason for hope. Is it possible that we think there is nothing when we die - and because we have nothing to believe in our children don't know how to believe either? We need to be reminded there is a spiritual side. There is a reason and a purpose - but we need a sense of community, a sense of belonging to work that out.
New Zealand desperately needs a renewed sense of community spirit and responsibility to bring back the caring and make people feel involved. We need to become people who watch over each other, who tell each other when we're facing things.
We are more than the outward form or shell of our body. There is a spiritual and heavenly dimension we can touch even now, where difficult questions such as these begin to dissolve into strange peace. The Creator has his own ways that are beyond our understanding. If our hearts fail us, he is bigger than our hearts (1 John 3:20).
Let's talk about it. Let's try and release the pressure valve, find out what's really happening with youth today and do something positive - Keith Newman
Written Tuesday July 15, 1997, by Keith Newman on behalf of Jacqui FitzGerald for the funeral of Marcel FitzGerald, aged 27.