WARNING: This post discusses suicide.
To be quite honest with you, I’d never heard of Senator Bridget Mckenzie before today. She’s a Nationals Senator for Victoria, and I’m an inner west-living NSW resident, so it’s not that surprising.
A quick search of this very website showed me that the politician is staunchly anti-same-sex marriage, appearing on Q&A to bat away questions about SSM from her own (gay) brother.
But today, she appeared on Sky News to chat this ol’ marriage equality debate we’re having, and thought it was a bit unfair of the ‘Yes‘ side to “politicise suicide”. Oh no, I am absolutely not joking.
“I would hate to think that somebody is using suicide, particularly about young men and women, to further the cause of either side of this debate, because at the end of the day, somebody’s decision to take their own life… you must be at the end of the road, so to speak. And I don’t think we should be politicising somebody who is going through that trauma.”
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) October 12, 2017
Since Senator McKenzie seems to be operating outside the realms of reason – or is perhaps deluded that anti-marriage equality supporters might be driven to suicide if there’s a big gay wedding they’re not invited to – allow me to educate her.
First, a quick reminder that LGBTIQ people did not want this postal survey farce for the exact reason that it would be damaging to the mental health of the community, particularly for young queer kids.
Then let’s look at the stats. LGBTIQ Aussies have a suicide rate that’s 14 times higher than heterosexual Aussies. FOURTEEN. Trans people are at the highest risk, with 50 percent attempting suicide at least once in their lives.
And then you have the research that says legalising same-sex marriage would prevent 3,000 suicide attempts per year. That’s not some random stats pulled out of thin air, either. That’s not a politically-motivated study. That’s the peer-reviewed findings of Australia’s top mental health experts. 3,000 suicide attempts per year. And you’re trying to say that the ‘Yes’ side shouldn’t enter the debate armed with the very real stats that will save lives.
This trauma is political because simply navigating Australia as a queer person is political. It’s political because the government didn’t do its job and legalise same-sex marriage, instead pandering to the most bigoted members of parliament, whose voices are amplified by right-wing media in this country, and subjecting this country to an utter waste of $122 million dollars.
Senator Mckenzie, in no uncertain terms: go fuck yourself.
If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, call either Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you’re looking for support in dealing with mental health, call BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.Image: Sky News