I have profound problems with the standard yada yada about suicide. Yes I believe that life is precious and in my teens I spent a number of years as a volunteer working the phones in crisis centers, so I do know the whole rap. But if life is truly precious our society should treat it as being precious with deeds as well as cheap talk. Society has gutted the mental health system, here in Santa Rosa, CA the two existing mental hospitals have been closed in the last few years. The mental health system is now configured to only act only at the final moment of extremity when people are ready to commit suicide and then with only the mathematically minimal amount of intervention possible. To me and many other people it seems that the science is very clear and that issues like mental health and education can’t be dealt with without dealing with the intertwined socioeconomic issues.
I have a diagnosis of Asperger’s, depression and anxiety. In the Nineties is was a successful software consultant and then the dot com crash happened. I went from being able to get a job anything in a week or two to being unable to obtain a single response to the resumes I would spend out over the course of a year. Five years ago I was given an SSRI for the first time in my life and I had a horrible reaction that almost killed me and the resulted with leaving me with a very serious problem with sensory overload. A few years ago I spoke to the head of HR at O’Reilly who asked me why didn’t I just move down to Silicon Valley where I could make six figures. I didn’t tell the gentleman that I had a serious problem with sensory overload and that I had a hard time seeing how I could function in a crowded urban environment and that living in the semi-rural environment of Sonoma county at least provided me with a quiet place that I could marginally function in.
Now I am having a profound problem with sensory overload that has literally trapped me in my apartment. Loud sounds and large array of other types of sound literally cause me pain. But the experience is actually far worse than pain, because I have a high pain tolerance, but an occurrence of a sensory meltdown can strip me of my very sentience. Because I am now poor I have been absolutely unable to engage in any medical or psychiatric intervention. I have tried to connect with services through ever possible channel I can think of, but to no good. Society’s reaction has been to say, let us know when you are planning to kill yourself, because that is the one thing that we will react to. Several years ago when I first tried to get help for my sensory overload, I realized that few doctors had any idea of what sensory overload was, and none of them had any idea of how to intervene in it. So their answer was to play hot potato with me. One doctor I saw kept redirecting the conversation from sensory overload to asking me if I might be suicidal. When I answered I wasn’t he just kept digging deeper asking me if I wasn’t sure that I was having a problem with suicidal ideation. He was desperate to relabel my problem with sensory overload as a problem with being suicidal because he did know how to deal with that. Dealing with a number of incidents like this over time can make in sick at heart. And mental hospitals are absolutely not the solution. When you can barely tolerate any sound whatsoever the answer is not to lock you up in a noisy environment that you can’t escape from.
So I have begun a hunger strike as a political protest for the lack of necessary services for myself and others. I at least have the intellect to enunciate the problems with the system as so I feel the importance of escalating this to the level of a political protest for others as well as myself. I have started a blog at http://dannyslittlerevolution.blogspot.com/ detailing my issues and concerns, but so far I have received zero feedback. I am now in my fifth day of my hunger strike. So my final comment is to suggest to people that bland statements about life being precious and that people shouldn’t commit suicide because things will get better are absolutely meaningless drivel meant to assuage the conscious of the speaker unless society acts to truly treat life as precious. I get that many in society holds life to be precious for unborn fetuses and for people about to commit suicide. But if life is truly precious it should be treated as being precious during the period of time between conception and death or else talk of the preciousness of life is an absolute sham. My training and gift is in understanding how complex systems work and any system to refuses to deal with the underlying socioeconomic problems is just pissing in the wind. Peace.
Very well said. I agree, it seems that in this society mental illness, depression and suicidality are more used as a label to further ostracize those in distress instead of as a signal to actually take steps to help them while they can still be helped.