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Worzels World - The Unacknowledged Epidemic



I know that much of what I write in this column points out many aspects of our existence that could be done a lot better yet I am still one of the old school who thinks we should be grateful, in spite of the many hardships, mishaps, suffering and pain of life.

Life itself is a sacred gift. I am grateful to have spent over half a century unwrapping it. What amazes me is that many New Zealanders dislike this gift so much they take an active roll in throwing it away.

The numbers came out and were shocking enough. Then the reality of the statistics became manifest and personalised when this fruit of ultimate despair struck locally.

Over 600 New Zealanders have taken their own lives so far this year. This is a new record, and it follows a trend of increasing numbers year by year. It is sad to compare this number with some other numbers.

The annual road toll is between 300 and 400 deaths per year and in response there is a veritable army of police patrolling our roads and any number of speed camera vans deployed daily on our nation’s highways and byways.

There are just over 300 deaths in the workplace per annum and the health and safety industry with inspectors, OSH compliance, safety gear and cone manufacturing must be a billion dollar industry.

Taxpayer dollars are lavished upon such as these, yet government has cut funding to such services as Lifeline.

For many years there has been a voluntary embargo on the reporting of suicide and open pubic discussion on the topic. I have always maintained that unless a problem is acknowledged and analysed it cannot be adequately addressed and the ever-increasing suicide statistics illustrate that keeping it hidden in the back room is not working.

There is an acknowledged epidemic of depression in the Western world. It is ascribed to a chemical imbalance in the brain. I think this is only partially true. I believe it is in fact a spiritual disease. A chemical imbalance in the brain is a symptom, not the cause.

Human nature has remained pretty much the same throughout history so consequently societal factors must shoulder much of the blame for this increase in numbers, especially amongst the young, who give way to the depression, despair and hopelessness that leads to suicide.

So I would like to apologise to those younger than myself who find life so unbearable that they consider the emergency exit. As someone who, almost without noticing it, has become part of the 'older generation' I am willing to accept my portion of the blame.

It is true that we have collectively let our standards slip. That commonly shared moral values based on tried and tested tradition have degenerated into an amorphous sludge of non-specific anything-goes political correctness.

I am sorry that our formerly egalitarian nation, once characterised by competence and co-operation, has become polarised into a nation of haves and have-nots characterised by greed and selfishness. I am sorry that so many of our young people believe that it is more important to be popular than to be useful and of service to others. Sorry if we made it all too easy too early for you and you had unreasonable expectations.

I would however like to remind everyone that despite all these things New Zealand is still a pretty good place to live. There are still many reasons to be grateful. Even the have-nots here have more than many others elsewhere. Inability to appreciate that is certainly a sickness and like other diseases we need to collectively seek a cure.

If anyone reading this is considering taking their own life I would encourage them not to bother. Death is a guarantee not a choice. None of us chose to live and most assuredly we can only carry on until something kills us, as most assuredly something will. And if you think that death is an escape into oblivion I feel obliged to point out that there is no conclusive evidence that this is so and a great deal of testimony to the contrary. You'd sure feel foolish if you died resentful and tormented by this life only to find yourself somewhere immeasurably worse.

I for one am thankful for this roller coaster ride of existence and I wouldn't kill myself for quids. I am aware the ride will only last for either a short time or an even shorter time and in the context of eternity it is a short time indeed no matter how long it is. If you are thrilled and exhilarated by it or are frightened and sick for the duration it is one of only two rides in God’s amusement park. The other is: never having been, not being, and never going to be, which is no ride at all and you don't even get an ice cream.

So if you’re reading this you are fortunate enough to be here for the ride. Whether you are currently at a low point or a high point or merely cruising pleasantly along, don’t worry; if you keep breathing and eating on a reasonably regular basis sooner or later you’ll die sure enough. In my study of things I've found that death doesn’t really need much help. Even without the intervening hand of man against himself or others, death still bats 100 percent. At some point we all get off the ride. And then what?

n prof_worzel@hotmail.com

So I would like to apologise to those younger than myself who find life so unbearable that they consider the emergency exit. As someone who, almost without noticing it, has become part of the 'older generation' I am willing to accept my portion of the blame.

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