Real Sickness

A story floating around the New Zealand media today is the tragic death from cancer of the father of a child who also suffers from cancer. It’s tragic, and that family deserve the deepest possible sympathy. They’ve been through hell.

Perhaps it’s self-centred of me, but reading things like that sometimes frustrates me. A death from cancer like this is a tragedy. A death by suicide due to mental illness is generally not reported due to the risk of copycat suicides.

Really? Someone else succumbing to their disease can’t be publicly mourned because then everyone will want to get on the bandwagon?P Maybe they’re right,maybe that happens. I don’t know. What the non-reporting does do, though, is add to the stigma of suicide.

Suicide is treated differently from other kinds of death. But for many cases, all it is is succumbing to a serious illness that has a relatively high fatality rate. It shouldn’t have to be swept under the carpet. We should be able to acknowledge that someone we know died of depression, or schizophrenia, or bipolar, or whatever other mental illness.

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