Avanços em Ética Médica

Avanços em Ética Médica
Acesso livre

ISSN: 2385-5495


Suicide: The lonely path

Lynne Bowyer, Grant Gillett

Most contemporary discourse on suicide in New Zealand is framed in either epidemiological terms, or as a medical problem internal to the individual. Epidemiology focuses on statistics, and has consistently over-emphasised teenage suicide numbers, obscuring the fact that suicide permeates all ages and is a significant problem in New Zealand. It necessarily rewrites individual case histories in terms of shared features, risk factors and ‘effective’ (statistically proven) general interventions. The medical approach frames suicide as an individual dysfunction, a ‘mental health’ problem, so that it becomes a manifestation of an ‘internal’ or ‘underlying’ issue affecting an individual. We argue here that suicide can neither be adequately understood through epidemiology, nor individual pathology. An adequate account needs to address the interrelational and socio-political structures that frame an individual’s life-world. A sustaining and sustainable life-world grounds an individual within an Ä“thos that provides meaningful opportunities in which to dwell, and which is able to affirm and empower a person to live well with others. Conversely, the alienating and fiscally driven neo-liberal discourse of individualism that we have come to inhabit is failing to anchor people in a meaningful and sustainable life-world, as it erodes genuinely caring and supportive social structures. One of the more visible and tragic fall-outs of this takes the form of suicide, a possibility that we see being actualised by more and more people in our country.