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The Forum > Article Comments > Some uncomfortable truths > Comments

Some uncomfortable truths : Comments

By Cireena Simcox, published 20/6/2008

We need to stand back, take an objective look at the world we have fashioned for our children, and then take responsibility for it.

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Cireena Simcox article, in a rambling search through the fields of blame, arrives at a conclusion for high rates of youth suicide (in particular males) in Australia, or , in her words, the “high rate at which we are killing off our young men”, points our attention to a combination, in her view, of many factors for the failure of youth to exit life in the allotted time, vis-à-vis: exploitation of our youth by the commercial sector (small business in particular was identified)?; (does that exclude McDonalds et al, I wondered )?

Can we now describe the transition of our youth through adolescence as a “conjugation”, for, at a point in the story, our dumbing down and selection of verbs describing suicide was under-scored. Those who had tried and failed in the vain attempt at analysis, were likened to fallen wooden-horse riders, unlikely to ever remount and sword-fight with windmills. And so to another Cireena Simcox conclusion; the doctrine of the hidden agenda. It now appears the categorizing of every violent and accidental death of our youth must be questioned. Was it suicide? We must now ask. Does it matter I ask!

But as many of our great writers are want to do, we are held in thrall till the last moment for the true gem. Could all the mayhem and premature death of our young males be the fault of their Fathers? To all the Dads out there please reconsider your glib remarks to your sons. No more the friendly call of “Mate” when requesting another beer from the fridge, since , if the endearment of the term does not inflict the inevitable death blow by his own hand, than you may turn him into a hopeless alcoholic.
Posted by diver dan, Saturday, 21 June 2008 8:51:18 PM
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Some unconfortable truths is a very catchy headline [that's most carefull not to include the topic ]as if we need to be tricked into reading it

Statistics can be said to be unrelyable , we talk of boys and men but it is well known they take obvious measures ,woman/girls use more subtil measures [like drug over dose , excess drinking , riskey life style ,even anorexia] in short statistics mean bukis.

But enough of seperattion ,what is this statistical suicide statistic revealing,
[perhaps the lack of suitable role models [homer simpson , and drunken sport 'stars taking drugs ,the daily dose of evil men getting caught for horrible crimes]
combined with a media that broadcasts hundreds of murders , cop shows , judge judy and big brother types and cooking shows is hardly the fare to give youth male role models that create strength in our young.

We wont even get into the retard a typical male featured in virtually every comercial, or the tough on drugs [deemed illegal] yet the pushing of booze/pills [that directly kills an average of 35 people per day in every major hospital, be it directly from booze or its affects or ahncilary like violence or road deaths.

The woman neatly fit into the adverse drug reaction TO PERSCRIBED MEDICATION [that in usa alone kills 5 jumbo jets [equivelent]each day]
and is responsable for one in 100 hospitalisations [with one in ten causing death],
we have a drug problem [LEGAL DRUGS]yet marijuana that has never killed anyone is vilified at a rate of one percent of the population each year
[a victimless crime] but the favoured villan for media pedling legal booze in its retarded male role model that is usually featured via dumbing down males as a role model
its reaping the harvest according as the media has deliberatly sown.
Posted by one under god, Saturday, 21 June 2008 10:44:40 PM
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Excellent article Cireena. And timely.

As the mother of 2 young men I'm very, very interested in the mental well being of men.

That there is such a large number of male suicides, and also high risk self destructive behaviour, suggests a deep sense of personal failure and deep sense of isolation/alienation from society.

Girls now have options, many many avenues are open in making life style and career choices with it impacting only occasionally on their sense of and pride in womanhood.

For boys on the other hand there is still an outdated and restrictive attitude to what it means to be a successful man. From both men and women I might add.

There is such a fear of homosexuality that it can be hard for boys to admit that they prefer English to Rugby, academic achievement to sporting prowess. There is almost this constant need to proof: 'I'm straight'.

It is difficult for 'straight' boys who do not fit in the proscribed male role and is tragic for boys who are homosexual. The message is clear, if you are not a particular kind of bloke you are suspect. The friends you have are probably also the 'outcasts' with whom you only have that in common.

Until recently, it was automatically assumed that a man who did Nursing for instance MUST be gay. If he had a heterosexual relationship, it was only because he was the only one who didn't now it yet. The man was not judged on his capabilities as a nurse, but on his possible sexuality, as if that was of any relevance.

A 50+ man I know, who has enormous difficulties with alcoholism etc, who is a lawyer once confessed to me that what he really had wanted to do was hairdressing. He loved the creative aspect etc. That was absolutely out of the question of course.

That is so sad, a life wasted, lived not to become who you are, but what parents and social environment deemed was appropriate.
Posted by yvonne, Sunday, 22 June 2008 7:03:25 PM
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Hello Cireena,

I read your article and was left looking askance. I have pondered your thoughts for a few days. I am bound to say you raise some interesting points and I wish to discuss alternative assertions.

I have found I need nearly 1200 words so will spread this over three or four posts.

Your proposal is that the rise of feminism has resulted in positive impacts on men and on society.

'The logical conclusion therefore is that, to varying degrees but with absolute certainty, these changes have impacted upon the other half of society.'

I absolutely agree, but … here are some alternative thoughts.

Firstly I must point out that for many generations Australian men have coped and coped very well with change, especially with the changes of the 60's, 70's and much of the 80's. If we see male youth suicide rates as a measure then seemingly the youngsters of those times have handled the changes in the roles, attitudes and expectations quite well. I see men of those generations as have becoming used to those changes in ideas and attitudes. Most are accepting. I think we'd agree there, although with the rider we'd have to say that there was a fair struggle initially.

Now as you say women have coped with the stresses of those changed conditions and today face the ongoing challenges men have faced for generations … just as well as the men. I agree.

I agree the rising suicide rates appear restricted to a particular male age band i.e. youth from the mid eighties to early nineties.

It is of concern to me that you regard men addressing their sons as mate as a problem. That's been going on for generations ... have a read of the both the Lawsons, Louisa and Henry, Barbara Baynton and Banjo Paterson, to see my point. I'd have to disagree that has a negative impact on youngsters. And as an aside have a look at 'Out Where the Dead Men Lie' by Barcroft Boake for an indication of why, mostly, young men killed themselves in that era.
Posted by keith, Sunday, 22 June 2008 7:39:13 PM
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I disagree risk taking activities leading to deaths should be included in suicide statistics. It's an issue I'd love to address in depth … but not here. I and many of my well adjusted non-suicidal mates have been taking risks for years and are still doing so in our 50's. True children of the 50's and 60's! My best mate just bought a Ducati. He's driving around the place like a half-wit. One bloke bought a yacht and sailed for 6 days solo half way up the East Coast of Australia without so much as a days sailing experience.

But that risk-taking is a very relevant point in how youngsters are being raised. Men used to be physical. Men used to take risks. It was the way we were. We excelled or failed and out of both we learned about ourselves and how to cope with success and failure and how to move on. We built our own expectations, became proud of our failures as well as our successes. Some of us still do these things although lately I've heard expressions of 'mid-age' crisis murmured in the background.

Now days the very idea of risk-taking draws scorn. I think you'd agree your article expresses that attitude also. An acceptable alternative, in many quarters, is sport, albeit sport that attempts to minimise physical risk-taking. Much sport these days is fake life.

Another idea you think important is the expectations we men put onto each other. Simply real men don't! They are too busy dealing with their own expectations. I believe young men (and older men) who haven't developed expectations for themselves will become muddled, lost and susceptible to self-harm in any of its forms. And the same probably applies to women.

I don't know who you mix with but the people I know mostly encourage all youngsters to develop and follow their dreams ... especially where some intellectual challenge or 'boundary challenge' is involved. Gender no longer enters the thinking equation. But I think many, including you, scorn and exclude any challenge that is merely physical or seemingly dangerous in nature.
Posted by keith, Sunday, 22 June 2008 7:39:20 PM
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Here is an observation; the difficulty of accepting suicide is in the “attitude of the beholder”. It is their personal refusal to accept the fact of suicide as legitimate death, an individual choice.

Frankly, I consider the content of this article to be an indication of a “soft head” The soft head of modern man (or woman as in this case). And to think that this rambling article was written by a journalist too, makes for concern.

Suicide is death, a medical fact, to be treated as such: For in this point is the dilemma of modern man. What difference how the body died? Starvation, murder, frost bite, heat exhaustion, war (now there is a good one) accidental, suicide et al . Its dead, gone, we move on, we get on with it.

Suicide, seen as a personal choice, makes an obscenity of the blame game. Analyse all you like, suicide is a different death; a deliberate death; a chosen death; a free choice death. Now, that is a good thing, not bad! Free choices available to modern man are in the decline, make the best of it.
Posted by diver dan, Monday, 23 June 2008 8:42:03 PM
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