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Thursday, October 18, 2007


I live in New Zealand, one of the most beautiful parts of the world with arguably the most just and responsive government to the needs of its people. I live amongst a people of, by and large, great sensitivity to the needs and rights of others. Our business tends to be fairly low pressure when compared with many parts of the world. Race relations, while sometimes a little turbulent, are an example to the rest of the world in other countries where a first people were "invaded" by Northern Europeans. For all of this our suicide rate is said to be amongst the highest in the world. I can't 'figure it'. We have, to a large extent the same genetic make up as Canada, Britain, the USA, Australia and a whole range of other countries. There seems to be only one thing left that makes sense.

Clearly there must be a lot of different causes for a person to take their own life but if, as the above paragraph suggests, outside pressure and genetic make up can be eliminated as causes of our out of the ordinary rate, it must be something else. I suspect it may be found in our soil. I know that this sounds pretty far fetched at first glance but bear with me. Certain minerals as diverse as zinc, cobalt, magnesium, selenium and so forth are the vital ingredient in a range of hormones, enzymes and co-enzymes in the body. Ingest less than the optimum amount of any of these minerals and you will be functioning at less than your potential. You will feel somewhat unwell, somewhat unhealthy, somewhat out of balance. Have a total lack of one of these vital nutrients and you will simply die. Take someone with some other tendency toward self distruction (like a teenager in the throws of getting used to a whole range of new hormones or someone who has just broken up with a loved one) and the lack of a vital mineral with its associated feeling of unease, of unwellness, could send them over the edge.

This is only anecdotal evidence but I have lived for more than a decade in each of three other countries. I didn't know, or know of a single person in any of these countries that committed suicide. I haven't yet been a decade in New Zealand and I know of 11 at last count. That is I know someone personally who knew a suicide victim.

It would be very difficult to get a handle on this problem; to prove the hypothesis one way or another. It would be especially difficult since any investigation would come into conflict with families who are at their most vulnerable and upset. I suspect what we need to do is to establish the levels of all these nutrients which are necessary in the body for full functioning. They may not even be the same for people of different genetic make up or in different environments which further complicates the picture. We need to take biopsies of every person who does commit suicide and also biopsies of others, both in New Zealand and in other countries, to establish a base line. Unfortunately, only a few of these nutrients can be assayed by taking hair samples. If hair was adequate for all assays, the study would be greatly simplified. Some minerals need to be assayed from other parts of the body.

It is known that various New Zealand soils are lacking in various of the essential minerals so there is a reasonable chance that Kiwi's in various locations lack some of these minerals. If all that is necessary to stop this horrible waste of life is a little mineral pill or the fertilization of our fields with a few trace minerals, it would be a crime not to find it out and take the necessary corrective action. If a mineral lack is responsible for a high suicide rate, it is also responsible for less than "total wellness" amongst lots of people who don't take their own life. Selenium, for instance, is known to protect against cancer and joint problems and most Kiwi sheep farmers make sure that their sheep get enough supplementary selenium. Without enough selenium the sheep do not do well at all and there is simply not enough natural selenium in our soils. How many of us have other conditions due to a lack of something so simple.

Suicide leaves a huge burden of guild amongst the people closest to the victim. If for no other reason than to alleviate this guilt, this study would be worthwhile. Of course the real benefit would be in preventing more deaths.

1 comment:

Norina said...

Interesting to know.