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Life and death

• I refer to recent articles by Kevin Myers on the question of suicide. Is it possible that the reported increases in suicide has as much, if not more, to do with what is happening in Ireland now than with any irrational mimetic behaviour?

Could it be that the lack of a crucial focus in the recent trumpeting about 'mental health' in the media and at public events has had the effect of making people more uneasy? Perhaps now people are more willing to be medicated on a wholesale basis -- as per the recent contribution to this debate by former Labour Party politician and practising psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee?

The bland assertion that our gloom and unease is unacceptable in the light of the fact that, for instance, Italians, Germans, Japanese and many other races suffered greatly during the World War Two, is peculiar. Who said that one person's pain cancels out the suffering of one or a million others?

A recent crossword in one Irish newspaper had a clue which read: 'mentally ill'. The answer was 'insane'. Now what thinking individual would confuse that terrible state, with all its historic, social and legal connotations with the feelings of helplessness and loss that characterise much of people's reactions towards what is happening today?

Indeed, the Brazilian philosopher, psychologist, liberation theologian and writer Rubem Alves was of the opinion that "to be happy in an unhappy world is to be insane". He also distinguished between optimism and hope.

Mr Myers needs to look at how those 'Tiger' dreams ended in a nightmare, how the previous government presided over an economy (note, not a nation) in which money became king, and in which greed triumphed, honesty floundered and empathy was eroded.

Or he could look at how betrayed people feel now that the replacement government -- which promised to do things in a new way -- is following faithfully in the footsteps of its predecessor with the 'rob the poor to pamper the rich' policies it insisted it would challenge and reject?

There is more to acknowledging suicide than simply stating that it is happening.

We need to acknowledge a multitude of obvious and more subtle pressures, and the sickness inherent in contemporary society, and tackle them.

Marie MacSweeney
Drogheda, Co Louth

Irish Independent