“We don’t talk enough about mental health.” How many times have you heard people say that sentence or something very similar? Politicians say it often as do doctors, social workers and various other professionals. It would seem that the mere act of speaking about mental problems will somehow help those going through some sort of crisis of the mind.
I recently watched a documentary about suicides in Bridgend, Wales. It made for surreal and deeply uncomfortable viewing. In a relatively small town, dozens of people were taking their lives, mostly young people. And almost every one of them did it by hanging.
One of the issues covered in the documentary was that of media coverage. Tabloid newspapers caught onto the story and reported on the huge wave of suicides. Various conspiracy theories were drawn up. But then the media coverage stopped rather abruptly. Why was that the case?
It turns out that the media were asked by the authorities to stop reporting it. No official explanation was given. The documentary maker highlighted the fact that the police refused to discuss the issue of suicide in the town. His whole take on the issue seemed to resonate with the idea that talking about such issues helps. But does it?
Bridgend is not unique. I know of at least two other small towns that had similar problems to Bridgend. Copycat suicides are a real phenomenon but it’s controversial. The problem is that by talking about it, you’re spreading thoughts of suicide among the populace. It’s highly significant that the people in Bridgend took their lives in the same manner. It was like a contagious disease. They were copycats, there can be no denying it. And copycat events can only happen if word gets around of the event to begin with.
The police and other authorities are in a difficult spot. Despite the mantra of talking more about mental health, those who have researched this subject know the opposite is the case. By saying nothing, the authorities are doing the right thing and it would be detrimental were they to come out and say that their official policy was to try and keep quiet about the whole thing. Authorities trying to hush things up is almost always seen in a bad light even though in this case it’s fully justified.
Unfortunately, many who saw the documentary will be left feeling angry towards the authorities. The “we need to talk about mental health” meme is strong. Initially, I was feeling a little confused as to why nothing seemed to be done in the community. As well as police silence, there was no mention of any community support groups. It was like a Sicilian omerta.
It wasn’t until I began to relate Bridgend to mental health in general that it began to make sense. For many years it’s been clear to me that the whole therapy industry is not only useless, it’s harmful.
Does anyone really believe that a person who experienced trauma can possibly benefit from reliving their past on the couch of a person who arrogantly hangs a framed piece of paper on their wall with initials in front of their name?
Rape victims are told that retelling what happened in gory detail will somehow magically make them better. It doesn’t matter that they dread therapy or that they go home afterwards and cry themselves to sleep after emptying both their spirit and their wallet to someone who works in an industry with one of the highest suicide rates.
Yep, therapists top themselves left and right. But they hear about mental health problems all the time, right? They talk about mental health every single day.