CN: discussion of suicide
Cradle2Grave is our new campaign, to coincide with the release of ‘I, Daniel Blake’ – Ken Loach’s new film that won all the awards over the summer, about the benefits system in the UK and how it’s destroying the people who need it. Please consider throwing a few quid in the pot so we can reach as many people as we can.
A number of the most active and vital activist groups for disabled people and poor people have worked on this together. We struggle to make our cause known for a lot of reasons – hostile media, hostile government, ableism, classism. But one of the more pressing reasons is that the starkest indicator of the problem can’t be reported on with the outrage and severity it deserves.
Suicide is well understood to be contagious, and in communities where people are struggling, irresponsible reporting can lethally endanger them. There are very strict guidelines for journalists when it comes to reporting on deaths by suicide to avoid these clusters. It should never be front page, methods should not be disclosed and reasons must be very carefully weighed because the risk of ‘statement suicides’ is high.
For our community, who have lost so many people over the months and years, this means we are restricted. The suicide rate is the most obvious and scariest result of Welfare Reform, though not the most widespread and not the only one. It is a vivid and moving statistic which should affect even the hardest hearts. But we can’t use it, not in a way which would be effective, because we have a duty of care to our community. So many people tell us it can’t be as bad as we say it is because they would have heard about it. But we can’t make them heard as anything other than an aggregate, or individually as dispassionate historic accounts. If we could talk about them as they happen, like we talk about the deaths of black people at the hands of the police, using their names, describing the horror of their deaths, we could make the murderous system we’re facing understood. But we can’t, because more people would die, and we’re trying to save them.
So, in the absence of the ability to make the severity of our situation completely clear, we need to reach out by other means. We need to talk about the poverty, the starvation, the isolation, the loss, the exacerbation of disease and disability. We need to talk about how this hurts everyone, how one in five people will need this help at some point and it needs to be fit for purpose. We need to make our voices heard over the venomous shrieks of ‘Scrounger! Lazy! Parasite! Worthless!’ and that takes money. The people who want us silent and gone have all the money they need, and they use it in abundance. We need your help. We are largely people at the mercy of this system ourselves, already sick, already disabled, trying to save our own lives and the lives of everyone else by ensuring the NHS and the welfare state, our country’s proudest triumphs, live on as the pillars of society.
Please help us. Please talk about this, tell people to look us up, donate if you can. Even a few pounds or euros or dollars makes a huge difference.