Thursday, May 24, 2012

Queer Suicide in NZ

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, but here goes. A new video has been released to promote LGBT equality in New Zealand. It carries the charming title WTF, which according to project director Sam Shore, "it can mean anything you want." But of course viewing this brief video leaves you in no doubt that the F-bomb is what is intended, which is interesting because in my experience that word suggests and promotes sexual violence and disrespect like few others. But I'm sure that is just me being a prude.


So here is my problem, if this is an anti-bullying campaign then I have no problem with it, but the video's argument is constructed in a rather disconcerting way. Firstly we are told NZ has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world, this is kind of true, we come in at 29th on the WHO list, behind countries like Japan, Switzerland, North Korea and South Africa. Then we are told that in NZ there were 558 suicides last year. I can't verify this the govt website only has stats for 2010 at present but it sounds like the right ball park. We are then immediately informed that LGBT are four time more likely to attempt suicide than others. So what is implied is that LGBT people are committing suicide left right and center and because of NZ's inequality towards LGBT our suicide rate is super high. Now even one suicide due to bullying would be enough to take action, but why present the data in such a confusing and manipulative way?

So here are my questions:
1. What is the breakdown for likely causes of those 558 suicides, sexuality, poverty, substance abuse, family breakup or something else? If we are concerned about suicide then lets be concerned about suicide not use it as a guilt trip for other issues.

2. The reason for the high correlation between LGBT and attempted suicide (notice I'm only using the video's words there) is assumed to be bullying and I've no doubt there will be anecdotal evidence to support this, but is it also possible that the correlation exists for other reasons. Without proper data and unbiased research it is impossible to say. So is anyone doing that research?

3. In my experience with bullying (both personal and professional) the problem is usually not with the victim (e.g. because they are gay, Christian, fat, etc) but with the the bully who themselves suffer from low self esteem and have usually been victims of discrimination and relational violence themselves.So who is working with the bullies?

4. Does the high level of sexualisation among our youth of whatever orientation lead to depression, anxiety, suicide and bullying because young people lacking the emotional and spiritual resources to cope with their sexuality are being forced to make decisions and define themselves according to the social constructs promoted by the mass media before they are ready? And again how would anyone know if it was?

Please, let me know what you think.

2 comments:

  1. Those are excellent questions, especially no. 4.

    By the way, to open with a statement like, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, but here goes" sounds like you are afraid of retribution...or of being bullied!

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  2. No, I am neither afraid of bullying or retribution, i am big and ugly enough not to have to worry about such things, i am more afraid of saying something stupid, something my size doesn't protect me from! :-)

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