Life is fragile

It was a pretty awful week last week, starting with various murders still in the courts, including the sentencing in terrible one where a man fuelled with alcohol and drugs raped and killed the young French student at Kurilpa on the southside, near the Gallery of Modern Art. There was another at Goondiwidi, where a woman was choked and strangled with her jeans.

dreamworld_7964024-16x9-220x124Then we had the four deaths at Dreamworld and the bumbling by Ardent Leisure CEO Deborah Thomas and the Dreamworld management.

I know that the Dreamworld bosses were worried about over 1000 staff sitting at home and worrying about their jobs, as well as getting the money rolling again, and I had some sympathy for Ms Thomas, who had just completed her first financial year in the job after coming from editing Womens Weekly.

She was not expected to do well, and the share price duly tanked, but she’s proved OK so the share price steadily climbed.

Bad luck her big show and tell at her first annual meeting was just after the Dreamworld accident, and she talked about reaching out to the families. Happens they were watching on TV and hadn’t yet heard from her.

Ardent Leisure actually owns over 150 leisure assets in Australia, NZ and the US, so she has a lot to think about, but she stuffed up on this one.

Any way, she apologised, donated her cash bonus of $167,500 to the Red Cross for the benefit of the families, and showed up next day on site with a bunch of flowers, as did a lot of other people:

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And Dreamworld will wait until the victims are buried, and the rides all thoroughly tested, before they open again. Thing is, under the gentle cascading stream was some rather unforgiving machinery:

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Then on Friday morning we heard about a horrific murder of an Albanian cleaner at Jillinda Place at The Gap, the suburb next door to us.

moorooka-bus-driver_7976040-3x2-700x467_250This was followed rapidly by the murder of a bus driver in Moorooka, with a ‘passenger’ entering the bus, dowsing him with accelerant and setting him alight. Then standing and watching until the police came.

The police said there was “no apparent motive” but he was a Punjabi, a ‘sociable, multi-talented guy’ who made a lot of people happy, so maybe that was it.

Taxi driver Aguek Nyok, also presumably from somewhere else, became a hero, when he kicked in the middle door and let the passengers out.

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I know there’s mayhem in the Middle East, but life suddenly seemed fragile.

17 thoughts on “Life is fragile”

  1. Thanks Ambigulous.

    In news today says the man who murdered Manmeet Alisher, the bus driver, had received mental health treatment in the public system.

    So an independent external investigation into the mental health treatment given to him has been set up, presumably to establish whether he was unhinged.

    We also heard that Manmeet was about to announce his engagement, plus the local Indian community were about to celebrate Diwali, festivities with the theme of the :

    triumph of light over darkness and good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.

    Manmmeet was to be one of the leading performers.

  2. On the other hand:

    In 2015, preliminary data showed a total of 3,027 deaths by suicide (12.7 per 100,000), 2,292 males (19.4 per 100,000) and 735 females (6.2 per 100,000). There were 2,864 deaths in 2014 (12.2 per 100,000). In 2015, preliminary data showed an average of 8.3 deaths by suicide in Australia each day.

    For more details see ABS data.
    ABS data on murder and manslaughter gave the following on murder for

    There was a 2.0% decrease in the number of murder victims in Australia, from 254 in 2012 to 249 in 2013. In Australia:
    The murder victimisation rate has remained steady across the past four years at 1.1 victims per 100,000 persons;
    Just under two in three victims of murder (63% or 157 victims) were male;
    Males aged between 25 and 34 years accounted for the largest proportion of murder victims (21% or 53 victims);
    Just under two in three murders (64% or 158 victims) occurred in a residential location;
    Of weapons used in murder, a knife was the most common (43% or 83 victims); and
    69% of all murder investigations (171 victims) were finalised by police within 30 days.

    Not all deaths are reported equally.
    The figures for suicide in particular suggest that women aren’t the only ones doing it hard and that we need men’s policies as well as women’s policies.

  3. Good work, John, and I’d have to agree with your last comment.

    Road deaths are at 1209 pa or 5.08 per 100,000. They’ve been steady for the last five years, after massive improvement since 1970.

    The suicide toll is appalling, but also seems to be steady in recent years.

    On reporting, on Friday we would have heard a lot more about the one at The Gap, except it was ‘blown away’ by the Moorooka taxi driver.

  4. Male suicide rates have been higher than women’s for many years I think, it isn’t a new thing as far as I know. It is well known that living up to
    the social expectations around masculinity can be damaging for men.

    Feminism has always aimed for better conditions for everybody, women and men. Unfortunately some men do find it difficult to cope with social changes around gender, they may cling to what they know even if it’s not emotionally great for them really.

  5. Val: Think you are right about, ” …. living up to
    the social expectations around masculinity can be damaging for men.” I’m so damned fortunate that I grew up in an environment where expectations for my masculinity were not lower (and perhaps higher) than the stereotypical masculinity but slightly different; that has probably saved my life.

    It’s high time that there was a tough review of gender expectations, of “standards” of appearance, of peer-pressure to conform. What’s that saying? “The enemy of good is perfection”, or something like that.

    Brian: Don’t despair. Amidst all the death and injury, there are still a lot of nice things happening.

    Hope that Mr Aguek Nyok is called to Government House to receive a bravery award. Good on him!

  6. Found a link that tracks suicide rates in Aus from 1921 and compares suicide rates for various countries for 2009. There is some variation over time and country but perhaps what is most striking is that, in general, the variation is not all that high and the male/female suicide ratio is also roughly the same (Except Canada where the female figure was very low.) Mediterranean countries (Greece, Italy Spain and Portugal) had low reported suicide rates which may reflect high levels of family support or a reluctance to have a death reported as suicide.
    In Australia females were more likely to contemplate and plan suicides compared with men even though they actually committed suicide far less often.
    There was nothing in the data to suggest that male suicides are related to recent changes in our society.

  7. Graham, I’m in no danger of personal despair, but thanks for your concern.

    John, the link mentions that males use “more extreme and final methods” compared with females using ” less reliable methods”, though the differnce is not all that marked. It is said that females often use suicide as a ‘cry for help’.

    Another factor is that in country areas there are single vehicle accidents where a vehicle crashes into a pole or tree at speed, which could be suicide, but you’d never know.

  8. Brian: The link in my previous comment concluded:

    As discussed in the paper, determining the true number of suicide deaths is not straightforward. It is complex and may take a Coroner sometime to determine confidently whether a death was suicide. Due to the lengthy process, any data in this report for 2008 and 2009 will be revised, most likely upwards. As a result, care needs to be taken when using and interpreting data on suicide.
    Notwithstanding the data difficulties surrounding suicide statistics, the data are sufficiently robust to see general trends. These trends include:

    the rate of suicide is slowly declining in Australia;
    many more males than females continue to commit suicide;
    the suicide rate of indigenous people and those in remote areas remains higher than the general population; and
    the majority of those who attempt suicide have had a previous diagnosis of a mental illness.

    It is worth noting that women were almost twice as likely as men to attempt suicide. As you said, the nature of women’s suicide appears to be different to that of men.

  9. John, there was a quote from Val:

    Feminism has always aimed for better conditions for everybody, women and men.

    Perhaps you could use that.

    Val, I don’t think it is so much clinging to what we know. Everyone has to find their own path in growing up, and form an identity. They say it is especially important for males growing up to have a ‘mentor’. I don’t know, I didn’t have one.

    Males also notoriously lack peer support that really sustains them. It’s a problem throughout life, and the suicide rate picks up in old age for men, whereas it doesn’t appear to for women.

  10. Feminism has always aimed for better conditions for everybody, women and men.

    What better conditions for men has this effort achieved ?

  11. Cracker: Men like me benefited when women’s lib transformed into people’s lib. People’s lib gives couples more flexibility re who does what and can take account of who has the time, interest and skills to do particular jobs. It is also makes things easier when one partner loses their job.
    On the other hand, for some women all that has happened is that things have changed from being told by a man what to do to being told by a feminists what they should do with their lives.
    Then there are those that find that feminism is just another weapon in the good old gender wars.

  12. Interesting links Ootz. Impressive research! I didn’t read most of those LP stoush threads at the time.

    BTW welcome back. Hope all is well. I thought you may have been abducted by aliens!

  13. Thank you Brian for continuously providing such reliable and valid information in your concise regular posts. I am a sporadic lurker and often come to your offerings for the “lay of the land” on topical issues and of course Climate Clippings.

    Yes more or less all is well here; richer on experiences and poorer on youthful energy and health. Thus your “abducted by alien” is an adroit description of an ageing process enhanced by chronic illness. Indeed “life can be fragile”, but then I consider it also a gift, of which one has to make the best of it. Besides that, when you consider life in Aleppo , we are sitting pretty.

    The old LP archives are a veritable treasure trove in many ways, which I do revisit. Also my wife is a librarian and taught me valuable referencing and search skills which I practice to trace all sort of things. Amongst others, it is interesting to see how people, including oneself, often over time shift their view on issues such as feminism over time, given the circumstances and adequate reflection. I certainly did and for the better of it. How is treating more than half the world population as equals not better for the whole humanity? Why can’t men throw off the debilitating part of genderization themselves, why do we expect women to do it for us? Surely their drive and success so far in removing these shackles should inspire us blokes.

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