A newsreader from CtiTV News in Taipei finds out as she is reading a breaking news item, in real-time, that her friend and colleague has died. She admirably maintains her professionalism but this is gut-wrenching to watch.

(Watch on Youtube and turn on captions for subtitles).

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Original Creators: Cam Magee (Original Concept) and Caitlin S Griffin (Design).

Nicely done. Quite fun too. Great for lazy trivia buffs.

shakespeares tragediesMy Source: http://progressivegeographies.com/

 

 

I love the way this letter has been written. It’s clear and well-articulated. I’d love to see more balanced pieces like this. Basically, the content is suicide law in Singapore. It is currently a criminal offence to commit suicide (admittedly you can’t be charged if you’re dead but you can in an attempted suicide). The law is rarely enforced. But anyway, read this by Chong Siow Ann, who is the vice-chairman of the medical board (research) at the Institute of Mental Health. He also sits on the board of Silver Ribbon Singapore.

Time to reconsider suicide law

Image Source

Source: Straits Times
Date: 22 Feb 2014
Author: Chong Siow Ann

Criminalisation of suicide may not aid those at risk in getting necessary help

AS A psychiatrist, I have, every now and then, a patient who admits to making a recent suicide attempt. Such information invariably causes me a surge of anxiety. With the spectre of an actual suicide looming, I respond by carrying out as detailed an assessment as possible. Then, I do what I can to prevent it from happening.

In my case, however, this almost never includes cautioning my patients that they have committed a crime. It doesn’t seem appropriate or even right. And just occasionally, I wonder – at the back of mind (poorly schooled in legal matters) – if I would be considered an accessory to a crime for not reporting it to the authorities.

Criminalisation of suicide

ENSCONCED within Singapore’s Penal Code is Section 309, which makes an act of attempted suicide punishable with a year’s jail sentence, a fine, or both.

This provision, which is a legacy of British colonial laws, has its roots in Christian theology. In the 4th century, St Augustine denounced suicide as a mortal sin. He did this apparently to staunch the wave of Christians who were killing themselves because of religious persecution.

He justified his position by basing it on an interpretation of the 6th biblical commandment – Thou shalt not kill. Killing oneself, St Augustine argued, was also killing the “image of God” since the Bible said that men were created in God’s image. This led to draconian laws against suicidal acts, reaching their peak in the Middle Ages when the corpse of one who committed suicide would be mutilated, and his property confiscated by the state.

With time, however, there was a gradual shift in public perceptions. Religion lost its predominant and central role in Western societies which became more secularised. A more philosophical and intellectual view of suicide softened the hardline religious stance, and suicide was seen less as a sin and more a social or medical problem.

Many countries also began to decriminalise suicide. But there are still a number of countries, including Malaysia and Singapore, where attempted suicide is still a crime.

Polemics of suicide laws

THERE are a number of arguments in favour of the law. An anti- suicide law might be seen as a demonstration of a society’s emphasis on the sanctity and inviolability of human life. A less lofty but utilitarian reason is that a human life also has economic value: Governments have invested in their citizens through the provision of education, security and other social goods. A suicide, therefore, represents a loss of an investment. Suicide might also be viewed as a selfish act that hurts loved ones.

An attendant fear is that we might be led to that “slippery slope” towards legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide.

There are, however, specific laws in Singapore that make the abetting of suicide a crime. Britain has decriminalised suicide and suicide attempts, but it is still an offence to assist another person to die by suicide. This situation regarding abetting has prompted the parliamentary undersecretary for justice of the British government to comment on the “unusual nature of the offence”. It is something that carries “accessory liability in respect of something that is not of itself criminal”.

Early this year, Ms Corinna Lim, the executive director of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), and Ms Porsche Poh, executive director of Silver Ribbon Singapore, argued for the decriminalisation of attempted suicide in Singapore. In an article on the Aware website, they commented that while most arrests for attempted suicide do not lead to criminal charges, the whole police procedure is “traumatising” for the person concerned and might “aggravate distress by adding a sense of grievance towards the legal system”.

And if someone were truly contemplating suicide, this law might possibly make such a person even more resolute, encouraging them to resort to an even more lethal method. They also noted that even if this law were abolished, there is the extant Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act, which would still empower the police to ensure that those who harm themselves would receive medical treatment. (The person concerned, however, must, in the wording of this law, be “reported to be of unsound mind” and “believed to be dangerous to himself or other persons by reason of unsoundness of mind”.)

For some who try to harm themselves, such acts might be impulsive. For others, they might be an inchoate means of getting attention. Research in many countries has found that more than 90 per cent of those who committed suicide suffered from mental illness at the time of their deaths. In fact, major depression occurred in about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of cases. Most, therefore, needed some form of help. The risk of legal sanction, it has been argued, may make it even more daunting for suicidal individuals to receive the necessary assistance.

Helping the suicidal person

VERY few cases of attempted suicide actually reach the courts. If hospitalised, the people concerned would most probably be referred to a psychiatrist for an assessment. The police ask the psychiatrist for a report, and most – as I have done on numerous occasions – invariably write a sympathetic assessment. The police then issue a warning and no further action is taken.

It is difficult to know for sure if this law has the desired deterrent effect – it remains very much a postulate. Trend analyses of suicide rates in countries following decriminalisation have given mixed results. There were no increases in Canada and New Zealand (in the five years following abolition of the law as compared with the five years prior). But, in a separate analysis where these two countries were grouped with England, Wales, Ireland, Hong Kong and Sweden, there was an increase in the average rate of all seven territories. It was noted, however, that the rate was already increasing in Sweden even before the law was dismantled.

This is not surprising. If anything, it underscores the extreme complexity of suicide. There are a myriad of factors that push people to take their own lives, including those that are unique to that person. There is also that array of external and societal stressors that differ in time and place. They all interact in very complex ways.

Reducing suicide obviously requires more than the law. It requires a concerted effort of multiple initiatives involving all segments of society, which is why some countries have a national suicide prevention plan.

“The moral test of government,” said American statesman Hubert H. Humphrey, “is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

Many of those who kill themselves, or attempt to do so, are either in the dawn, twilight or shadows of life. And that may be the nub of the matter. It is about how we as a society, with our intelligence, sensibilities and decency, respond to them and to a law that has, perhaps, become an anachronism.

  • Samaritans of Singapore (24 hours): 1800-221-4444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
  • Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800

Wow… he really, really felt done by, obviously. I wonder if he didn’t have another outlet?

—————————————————————————————————–
If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to
happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long
time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in
the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that
can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with
example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating,
tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully
articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is
therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only
anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to
believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for
justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this
place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals
represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation
without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that
crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands
up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.
While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes
(as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has
never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests
in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I
have to say.
Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities
(and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for
their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming
stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid
within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American
medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of
thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple,
and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile,
rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving
scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year
and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis
as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.
And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!
How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle
of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that
is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand.
Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for
fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a
signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they
understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the
measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.
How did I get here?
My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s.
Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked
up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English.
Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’
readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the
wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church
so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the
“best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do
exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our
congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of
God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules,
exactly the way the law said it was to be done.
The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed reevaluation
of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a
mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that
there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the
rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws;
the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.
That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my
retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country
with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize,
not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American
public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and
that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence
and all that keeps happening in front of them.
Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on
what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through
engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had
to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.
On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress
somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem
solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.
The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years
of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an
apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman
(80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel
worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania
with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he
would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead
he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill
management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension
funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.
In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter
and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time.
When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight
than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was
genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with
each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to
convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to
get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the
impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me,
and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.
Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-theears’
contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom,
midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who
later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York
Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its
section 1706.
For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining
the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link
for a conference committee report
the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as
amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and
their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).
SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.
(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding
at the end thereof the following new subsection:
(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who
pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides
services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer
programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a
similar line of work.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to
remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.
Note:
“another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.
“taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.
“individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.
Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not
very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in
the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would
have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty
years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.
During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours
of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or
slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting
their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any
and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a
campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being
easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the
windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of
the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.
After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we
could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they
weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This
immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to
have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.
Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any
sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.
Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of
the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air
Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The
result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized
Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit
about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded
up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government
funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.
Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some
momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up
some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders
decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long
after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months.
This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what
they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax
dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich,
incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business
but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.
By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try
Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly
inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is
done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of
what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three
or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and
wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and
doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich
buddies.
To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which
was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single
dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any
income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed.
But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I
attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to
due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping
of justice.
So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following
the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again.
But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to
mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to
handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to
get professional help; a very big mistake.
When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had
taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very
similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents
of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross
knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the
middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was
representing himself and not me.
This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that
have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions
were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife
had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.
I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and
how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when
they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come
in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem;
they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a
joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck
up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.
As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone
agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and
his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings
equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count
(unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a
government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and
their self-serving laws.
I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always
been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it
isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless
before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not
adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep
looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to
ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual
won’t continue; I have just had enough.
I can only hope that the numbers quickly get toobig to be white washed and ignored
that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only
hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk
government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake
government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake
up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what
they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but
violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really
big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at
and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.
I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over
and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to
stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take
my pound of flesh and sleep well.
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to
his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according
to his greed.
Joe Stack (1956-2010)
02/18/2010