“Genie, you’re free..”

Suicide is for cowards”

I have no respect for anyone who takes their own life”

Sitting at work after the news of Robin Williams death, these were not the reactions I expected. Amongst the pain stricken declarations of sorrow at this shocking and devastating news, were dabbles or idiotic naivety. “How could someone take their own life?” I heard above the usual office chit-chatter.

How could someone have never even considered the possibility? How could such an idea be absolutely foreign? How easy it could be just to end everything, how could that not even be tempting? I envy anyone who has never even thought of and cannot even comprehend the concept of dabbling in what is deemed the extremely ‘taboo’. In a society where our whole lives seem predetermined by society, politics and the media freedom is an illusion to many. At times, the only decision one can take a hold of is ending ones life; is it really surprising that people choose to take the one decision which is truly ours?

But it’s selfish” reply the masses of naïve, narrowed minded people. Even so, how hard must things get for someone to think that their death will be less of a burden than their life has been on their friends and family. Mental illness is not a decision, it is no more chosen than people who are diagnosed with MS or Cancer, although many would agree that euthanasia or assisted-suicide for the latter is more ‘socially acceptable’ than a mentally ill person committing suicide despite the great resonance between terminal illness and depression.

What’s with the stigma associated with depression? Why is it that people say the word with an instant roll of their eyes? As if it’s not a ‘real’ illness. And of course, a rich person definitely can’t have depression (one says in that aggravating, drawling know-it-all voice whilst rolling their fucking eyes) because at the end of the day rich people get sad and they “go buy a Lamborghini”. I’m sure it works like that. Rich person feels lonely they just “call one of their celebrity friends over”. Wow. When did money start to arbitrate happiness? It’s a duly taught nod to modern culture that the societal obsession with money and fame have indoctrinated many into believing that celebrities and the like have it all. Invincible super-beings. If only.

I wish so too, as much as I’d love to believe that one can reach such a stage of invincibility no one is immune from the hankering beast that is mental illness; who’s victims lay far and wide. It’s part of human nature to be vulnerable, to suffer, worsened so by the unkindness and narrow-mindedness of these other’s who feel that suicide or depression is ‘beneath them’. I applaud your prognosis. I hope to god you’re right.

Written for Cub Magazine: http://cubmagazine.co.uk/2014/08/the-suicide-debate/

Conflict in Gaza

Death has plagued newspaper spreads on an unprecedented scale in the last few weeks; and this doesn’t look set to change as war erupts in the Palestinian and densely populated state of Gaza. While the world watches the unravelling accusations surrounding the fallen MH17 plane, 87 people were “massacred” in Gaza by Israeli forces on the 20th July 2014, where the case for international intervention has almost become obsolete with the approximate death toll reaching over 1500 (and this is just at the time of writing). It is clear that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will not be silenced.

A scroll through numerous news sites shows a trail of headlines from ‘Egypt proposes ceasefire in Gaza’ to ‘Hamas refuses ceasefire’ and the devastating ’62 people dead after Islamic air strike over Gaza’. The last 13 days has been a cyclical process of calls to halt the brewing full-scale war and declarations on each side refusing these international proposals. As the gunfire resonates against homes, cafés and other civilian areas, the deja vu runs deeper than the events of the last 13 days, to similar events in 2012 and 2008: what will break this catastrophic chain of crises?

Arguably sitting behind a computer screen, researching the conflict makes it a lot easier to ponder such questions. However, the conflict is closer than it appears as people descend upon London to march in support of the Palestinians, close to home to the majority of us students, where placards displaying “Stop the massacre” and “Stop Israel’s war crimes” have intertwined with the tube journey we usually take begrudgingly to our Monday 9am lecture. Such instances make it all the more real to us here. As we are praising the heavens that we are freed from the claustrophobic-body-odour-ridden pleasantries of the morning commute now that summer is upon us, Palestinians and Israelis alike, attempt to mourn their dead whilst the scores of fatalities and injured climbs steadily up.

It is true that Palestinians and Israelis lead a life constantly treading on eggshells waiting for conflict to ensue due to a history of unresolved dispute. The spark to this current 13 day war is also caused by tragedy- the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, mourned by a nation followed by the subsequent murder of a Palestinian teenager; another nation in mourning. This is a conflict where children have fallen victim to a battle that they cannot fight, that they do not understand. The joys of play corrupted with the fear of death. Even injury brings no safety as a hospital was targeted on the 21st July, turning the injured into more dead.

As the numbers of dead and injured flit increasingly before our eyes, tensions only continue to rise. Something about this conflict in Gaza feels different from before:- a changing international situation and an appalling turn to civilian targets calls for an end to all this dispute, not a temporary diffuse.

Written for Cub Magazine: http://cubmagazine.co.uk/2014/08/gaza-conflict/