This morning I spotted a tweet praising this article in the Daily Mail. Whilst it makes some interesting points about the gruesome nature of suicide, its main point is that suicides of famous people act as a spur for others to do the same and, in doing so, they join a group of essentially selfish people. And in making this case it employs academic studies (somewhat ironically for the Daily Mail) which are as far removed from the actual feelings of those involved as they can be. Speaking from the perspective as a trained researcher and academic, these studies are unlikely to tap into real emotions felt by people. In their search for generalisable conclusions they miss the unique nature of each individuals case. More so, research subjects rarely speak that openly and honestly about the non-personal issues which affect their lives, let alone emotions so provide only partial insight of the veneer. We say what we think others want to hear. And perhaps these fuel the behaviours they claim to dissect and understand.
I actually feel insulted by this article. As someone who once had these feelings, I can say with all honesty that I was not inspired by anybody else. I felt selfish in having these thoughts and about the consequences of that course of action. Martin Samuel would do well to refocus on his opening paragraph and in particular these lines:
More worrying are those that have not; those nobody knows about, that are alone in tackling depression, or addiction, or feelings of helplessness. The section of the community who see Speed’s end not as tragedy, but grim inspiration.
We know from a range of real, anecdotal evidence that this exists yet we perpetuate in creating environments in which these feelings are incubated and grow. His article is unlikely to inspire many of them to speak out and discuss their thoughts, fears and psychological demons. Whilst Gary Speed’s death is still to raw to analyse with any objectivity the other cases that Samuel highlights surely indicate to the academic and layman alike that there is a trend here which needs to be better understood if the root causes are to be addresses and the deaths prevented. I would expect more from the Sports Journalist of the Year if journalism isn’t being proved to be so toxic itself. I’m sure there’s an academic paper in that but for the time being read it for yourself and make up your own mind.
I’m trying really hard not to be so negative. It’s something MrsAB would love to see happen and when I’m not I really do feel the benefits. But ever once in a while something comes along to break that effort and I relapse, sometimes for trivial reasons, sometimes quite rightly. And so it was the latter that stirred my ire last week when I spotted this article in the Daily Mail tweeted by Rethink: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1348114/Want-beat-depression-Do-I-did–just-grip.html. Now I don’t want to get political in this blog as it’s not the place nor does it do me much good, but I loathe the Daily Mail. Ever since I was young I remember my Nana having it delivered and slowly becoming aware of the particularly myopic view of the world that it choses to portray. I read the article and it has to be said that it was quite fair in its description of the lows of depression, that finding an inner calm does help. What fails to help in any way, shape or form is the Mail’s decision to run the article as seen below.
Telling people to “get a grip” is far from constructive and is the thing I feared the most when I first admitting to having a problem. Deep inside, getting a grip is what you want to do but you want others to help you find the way of doing that. In fact, when I explained this to a good friend he told me that was precisely what I was doing – being signed off work, seeking the help of professionals and, yes, taking medication was getting a grip, it was pulling myself together. I wasn’t wallowing in self pity, I was trying to work out why I was in this state and what path(s) I might take to get out because, when you are in there, the exit is hard to find. Even now, 18 months on I can’t look back and identify any one exit or moment of “getting a grip”, they are probably many. And so for the Daily Mail to deliver a sneering panacea of a headline is not only disappointing it is insulting.
Given the Daily Mail’s editorial tendencies to blame everybody else for the problems they see – be that asylum seekers, people of a non-Anglican religion, Labour politicians, Lib-Dem politicians (even Tory politicians), homosexuals, students, the BBC, ITV, Sky, the Guardian/Times/Independent reading middle classes, the Sun/Mirror/Star reading working classes, the EU, the French, the Germans, the Welsh/Scottish/Irish…….you get the picture – telling those of us who have complex health problems merely to “get a grip” seems to me a little hypocritical. So next time you see a Daily Mail headline which blames others in a fit of hysteria why not spend a few seconds dropping a quick line to Paul Dacre: here’s his email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – and just put “get a grip”. If only it was so easy.