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Tech, People, Suicide, Support, Self-care and More

With Julian Carver's suicide after years of battling depression and alcoholism there has been much talk amongst many of us that suffer from "lack dog" about what can be done. In many circumstances, nothing could be done at that moment and the stark truth is the person intent upon killing themself is likely to do just that no matter what support or love is surrounding them - I have seen it too often, especially here in New Zealand.

As Ben Kepes says in his article, Some open question about support within the technology industry…., written after Juian's death:
There have been, of course, social media outpourings of grief about his passing and assertions that we will all, collectively and individually, do better to support each other.

While these are laudable statements, the reality is that outside of a few notable exceptions, our industry (and I write here about the tech industry in New Zealand specifically. But more generally it applies to the tech industry globally) is one in which exclusion of all but a select few insiders, expectations of greatness at all times, and dismissal of anyone not up to scratch is the norm. 
Ben's argument is that the industry itself is set up to place undue pressure upon those within it, especially those trying to "lead" or be an "entrepreneur" which is proclaimed by many as the pinnacle of achievement.

My question is, is this a tech / computer industry thing> Are those that suffer from "black dog" (like myself) more likely to end up in tech or does this happen across all of society? Maybe I see this in tech more as I am a loud mouth online and attract those that are willing and able to talk about it with me. ANd maybe, just maybe, there is an equivalent in accounting, building, civil service, teaching, police and just about any other area of life you can thing of ... is there?

And so, we all say reach out, check in with your fellow travellers, those you suspect might be having a hard time (best indication is silence and/or short sharp answers to the question, "How are you?").
And this is definitely the number one thing we can all do, everyday! But here's a technique I know works, makes a difference to the listener AND gets past the gruff responses.

  1. Pick three people
    1. Someone who would like to hear from you
    2. Someone you would like to hear from
    3. Someone who might be surprised to hear from you
  2. Choose your quest level, easy, medium or hard:
    1. Easy: means you're going to send a message to the first person on your list
    2. Medium: means you're going to message the first and second person on your list
    3. Hard: means you're going to message all three
  3. Ask each of the three people, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how's is your day going?"
  4. Wait, and if they message back a number reply, "Is there anything I could do to help move it from a 6 to a 7?" (or .. from a 3 to a 4, or from a 10 to 11 - you get the idea)

I got this amazingly simple yet totally effective technique from Jane McGonigal's most excellent book, SuperBetter which I can't recommend highly enough!

And maybe that's it, that's all we need to do ... but maybe not?

I am very conscious of the "Engineers problem" with this and the most excellent thinkings of Auryn Shaw as outlined in her trilogy of Access Granted "engineers disease" podcasts. No, seriously, this isn't just a push for the podcast, her thoughts and challenges are TOTALLY relevant to this on-going discussion!

Listen to "Ep 97 The culture of tech with Aurynn Shaw" on Spreaker.

Listen to "Ep 98 Engineers disease with Aurynn Shaw" on Spreaker.

Listen to "Ep 102 The constellation of development with Aurynn Shaw" on Spreaker.

And that's where I am today ... oh, and this from Ben Foley is well worth a read, Suicide, Entrepreneurship, and The Road Home (The 9 Steps I took to get my life back — without drugs or therapy)