It’s been a sobering week. I love my job, but it is bloody hard sometimes. It’s one of those moments I dread as a school counsellor, hearing that a young person you have supported has taken their own life. I’ve been through this before, thankfully not a lot but it never gets easier. I’m sad, angry and frustrated – sometimes things do not get better! Yet this is what we tend to tell people, it will get better…what if it doesn’t? I reflected all week, trying not to give in to despair. I think something left unanswered is just how much emphasis there is on the individual ‘getting help’. I’ve said it before – expecting people to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society is not the answer. Somehow – my grief is more a profound sense of inevitability, a hollow aching grief that ‘it didn’t get better’ – we were served notice, but will anyone take notice of the larger systemic and societal shifts that need to enable people to want to stay checked in to this life.
We live in a time where showing compassion, love and vulnerability are seen as weakness. Where harshness, hate, separation, fear and rejection are normal. It is especially sad when these ideas become part of systems meant to support our most vulnerable – in an election year, this seems even more evident and strangely indicative of a profoundly sick system, more intent on point scoring.
While it never gets easy hearing about young people checking out, I know that suffering and feeling in continual pain is no quality of life. The tragedy is we have yet to create an abundance of love, acceptance, inclusion, safety and respect for children and young people. This is a level of social and cultural poverty that I find deeply offensive and will continue to challenge.