Monday, September 25, 2006

Acts of Supreme Selfishness

Last week our town of 1100 had 2 suicides. Both were young men, and the two incidents apparently had nothing to do with each other.

Nunavik, that Arctic part of Quebec north of the 55th parallel, apparently has the highest suicide rate in the world. It is also where I, my wife and five children live. I can honestly tell you I live in constant fear lest a suicide affect my family as well.

What pisses me off is that those in charge closed the school and put all the flags in town at half mast. To my mind, this only reinforces the notion in the minds of those contemplating suicide that "they'll miss me when I'm gone". I feel very much for the families affected by these two deaths, but I also feel a great anger towards the two young men who killed themselves in what basically are selfish and childish acts.

A few years back we had a suicide cluster, with eight in one calendar year. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that we are not going to repeat the same history this year.


Blogger Fuff said...

Heaven forbid Nanuk. Is that why alcohol is so hard to come by up there? There's a similar problem in northern Scandinavia I believe.

8:24 AM  
Blogger fairscape said...

I used to tell the boys when they were teenagers-Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I said it often enough that if the word suicide came into their little hormome poisoned brains the rest of the phrase would automatically follow. It is tough raising kids.

10:22 AM  
Blogger finn said...

I also feel a great anger towards the two young men who killed themselves in what basically are selfish and childish acts.

so, if someone's in agony and has no *personal* reason to continue living, you think they should stick around just so they don't hurt anyone they love? do you think a life lived purely for the sake of others' is a life worth living?

granted, suicide is a complicated subject, thick w/emotions, and i'm oversimplifying. but i think you are too if you believe people leave because "they'll miss me when I'm gone".

fairscape, i wish we could give to kids -- and to those who had but lost the big picture of ebb&flow -- the understanding that this too shall pass.

10:30 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Fuff: suicide can happen anywhere. But with youth suicide there is a very high incidence with Inuit communities and First Nations reserves. There are a multitude of socio-economic and cultural factors involved. Alcohol apparently was involved in both the incidences.

Fairscape: thanks very much for the epigram. I think you've put the subject in really stark terms, ones which youth may be able to relate to. When I get back from this trip I'll try it out a few times to see if there is any traction.

Finn: Interesting how the angrier I become the more simplistic my thoughts are. I have probably know well over 50 people who have committed suicide during my 20 years up north. You just get so fed up with it and the heartache it leaves those left behind.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

I have spent a good deal of my life on the other end of a phone talking and listening with people who felt as though suicide was the only way to end the pain they were in.

I don't have any answers.

So, I'm just gonna shut up and cross a few things myself.

4:05 PM  
Blogger L said...


12:00 AM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Sometimes, they kill themselves, sometimes, like in Montreal a few weeks ago, they kill others. But the problem is the same. Young people thinking there is no future. They need help! My God! What can we do to help them! I would like to have a solution. Maybe it's worst up North because of the lack of light, wich can cause more depression. I don't know. I feel sad for this society. (Our society). And I would really like to know what to do. Maybe we should be more attentive to the despair of our young people... :( All this makes me sad. 3 young people in my family have committed suicide... Yes, sad.

6:34 PM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:34 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Anna: Inuit culture is not strong on introspection and talking about personal problems. I think this is due to having to focus on survival on a daily basis and whinging about hurts and disappointments could have been detrimental to this task.

MerlinPrincesse: I'm so sorry your family has been affected by this scourge. I remember the agony I felt when I was ditched by my first girlfriend. I couldn't eat for days and I felt like the sun was never going to shine again. But as we grow older we begin to realize that time heals all of life's hurts, so we don't get as bent out of shape at the misfortunes life throws our way.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi just discovered this blog via Momentary Lapses of Insanity (Misty being a friend).

I just want to say, that I've expereinced suicide. An ex boyfriend committed suicide by hanging himself. The pain the he must have been in to do this I can't really imagine, but we as "survivors ie family & friends" suffered incredible pain. How do you help someone out of that position? When the only light they CAN see IS the light of a metaphorcial oncoming train. I don't know.

9:12 AM  
Blogger SC said...

At the time of the act of suicide, I think the mental health of the individuals must make it hard to have any empathy for those left behind. You've been badly affected by suicide by the sounds of things Nanuk. It's not surprising you feel strongly about it. It must take a special kind of toughness to live on top of the world I guess.

11:13 AM  
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