10 April 2007

Meth Connection

In the largely unsurprising (month-old) news about the suicide rate among Alaska Natives, this part grabbed me in particular:

What's happening? State and tribal officials said Natives battle the same basic afflictions they faced two decades ago, with new factors thrown in, such as methamphetamine.
The reason it grabbed my attention is that the connection between meth and suicide is not as immediately obvious to me as, say, alcohol and suicide or depression and suicide. In fact, in the several presentations I've attended and reported on about meth, I can't recall suicide being discussed.

So I was intrigued by the claim by "state and tribal officials" that meth was linked to a sustained high suicide rate and read on to find out what the connection was. And I read on. And on. And on. And I reached the end of the article without another mention of meth.

Given how much meth education there is in Bush Alaska right now and how much community leaders are trying to prevent the stuff from ever arriving here, this is a claim that is likely to roil the waters and make people agitated. And instead of substantiating the claim - or even attributing the claim directly to someone - Alex deMarban leaves it hanging all the way to the end. How was this not caught before publication?


First Alaskan Man said...

Jessie, now you are being politically incorrect and the PC police might nab you. Here you are actually digging for the truth. If you aren’t careful, you might give reporters a good name.
All headline and no correlative or collaborative statistics harkens back to “Reefer Madness”. It’s a crying shame as I have seen, first hand, meth users and they are a mess. I read somewhere there is a 6% recovery rate from meth. If this is the case; this should be a scare in and of itself. Meth users, in my experience, don’t want to die; they want to live for their next high. Perhaps the person I used to be close to was “different” in this, but even begging and lying to get money to support the habit didn’t faze her. Getting high from meth was the ticket to heaven. Dying would get in the way of being high. Perhaps I was fortunate in that suicide to her was never an issue. I’m happy to say she is now recovering as best she can.
I hope there is a retraction or at least the powers that be don’t keep spitting in the pot to make their stuff smell better. Shoot, 50 years after Reefer Madness one would think we as organized anti-drug campaigners wouldn’t muddy issues or embroider any tragedies such as suicide to further any organizational agenda.
Suicide has personally affected everyone I know or am close to. That sad sentence connotes a hurt and despair that is hell to live through. We second guess ourselves and if not careful, pin the fail on the living guy.
This makes a fella wanna write to the HSS folks who complied this and ask for a complete breakdown of their criterion for all their statistically analysis to find if there are other hocus pocus numbers they conjured up for public consumption.

CabinDweller said...

1stAKMan, you're on to something here.

The suicide rate out in Rural AK is and has been high for a long time, before meth really hit the scene. (I can remember one 3 month period where the Bering Strait region had something like 10 suicides.)

Perhaps there is some funding they want to pursue that relates to combatting meth use - and they're making the link in the media so they can start writing up those proposals.

There's a meth problem in Squarebanks/North Pole area already. It's scary stuff.

First Alaskan Man said...

Back in the 80s, there were 3 suicides within 5 days here in the Kotzebue area. They were my friends, my classmates and all in my village. Then you look at the stats for Northwest AK we are #1 for completed suicides-regardless of race- sad statistic.
Then some yahoo reports with a slant to conscript suicide to combat the “drug problem”.
While I don't use drugs and dearly love my beer, I much prefer most of my friends and relatives being stoned over being drunk. Experience taught me stoned friends gets me fed, drunks friends might get me shot. Yet "hard" drugs such as meth and oxycontin scare the hell out of me. I’m only talking about the drugs I’ve seen some of my friends’ abuse and die from. Looking at the THC in system at time of death shows a low number of stoned people comparatively speaking. It makes me wonder if smoke ‘um if you got ‘um is a help in suicide prevention. Most places I go around here, folks will light a… damn, I don’t even know what they call a doobie anymore I know it isn’t politically correct to say it, but there it is. Categorizing all drugs in the same level and going back to hyperbole and Brothers Grimm crap will not help anyone, and that, CabinDweller, is even more frightening. Getting grants feeding a bureaucracy to study side issues while people are dying in despair by their own hand is something I’m all to familiar with.