|Good times! Lianne and Gerry share a laugh.|
In the land of Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck's 'marvellous rebuild', more and more people are trying to kill themselves.
THE NEWLY RELEASED SUICIDE STATISTICS have exposed a level of social distress in Christchurch and surrounding areas that has largely gone unacknowledged by its so-called 'political representatives'.
The figures are disturbing. Last year Canterbury police responded to nearly 3000 suicide attempts, well ahead of the rest of the country. Since 2011 Canterbury's total has increased between 200 and 400 calls every year. We know this is the tip of an iceberg of anguish within the local community
People who are at the 'coalface' have commented on the distress provoked by the post-earthquakes landscape.
Vito Nonumalo of Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support (MHAPS) told the media that people have ""run their resilience thin and feel they have nothing left to hold on to", and pointed to "the length of time people are having to live through the post-quake mess."
But our so-called political representatives, responsible for much of that 'post quake mess' , have had nothing to say. The Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, is normally not short of a word or two. But not on the issue of Canterbury's ghastly attempted suicide figures. I'd like to know if he feels that his failure for over three years to acknowledge, never mind act, on Christchurch's housing crisis, might have contributed to the number of attempted suicides.
Similarly there has been a silence from our local representatives. You might have assumed that Mayor Lianne Dalziel would have felt she had a responsibility to comment on the fact that a lot of people have been trying to kill themselves in her community. But, again, there's been nothing. Ditto from her councillors. Not even a tweet.
Of course these figures cut across the Christchurch City Council's clumsy campaign that its full steam ahead for the city and the region. Talking about the casualties of what Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck has described as a 'wonderful rebuild' would be a major downer. So let's not talk about it. Especially in an election year.
Of course the Christchurch City Council is not an impartial observer In all this. While its always keen to squeeze media mileage from some perceived local 'success' its not at all keen to take responsibility for anything else.
We have to ask what impact the failure to restore community services has had on local people. And the massive hike in rates can only have added to a level of stress that no one should be expected to live under. Similarly living in what amounts to third world conditions - particularly in the neglected eastern suburbs - has done little for people's sense of well being.
Is it any wonder that more and more people can't see a way out?
As MHAPS general manager Sue Ricketts has said earthquake stressors had increased "to the extent that some people have nowhere else to escape their despair except by suicide".
But as John Minto observed in an opinion piece in The Press earlier this week;
'Instead of standing up for Christchurch City priorities and insisting on a people-led recovery our Council simply stumbles on blindly. To pay for the big corporate-comforting projects our elected representatives have approved eye-watering rate increases over the next three years and have begun to sell our assets (euphemistically called "capital-raising" by the mayor) to help pay for them.
And as this council stumbles on, as Mayor Dalziel talks about her 'good relationship' with Gerry Brownlee, the level of distress continues to ratchet up in the very community that she and her council are supposed to represent.