Sunday, October 18, 2015

Views On Suicide And The Tower Of Death In Cordoba

Earlier this year, a friend invited me to a lecture on suicide at the National University of Cordoba (UNC). I learned some interesting facts, some of which surprised the hell out of me.

The professor identified herself as a suicidologist, a profession within the psychiatric field that I never even knew existed and seeing that this lecture was held at the UNC I was ready to call B.S. to anything she was saying. But at the incessant request of a friend I decided to stay.

I learned that health insurance in Argentina will cover injuries related to suicide attempts but life insurance won't. So anyone planning on offing themselves in the hopes of leaving their family with a large sum of life insurance money is out of luck.

The Highest Suicide Rates In The Country
Buenos Aires has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. I can only assume that this is the result of the high level of stress of living in a big city. As you may know from my previous blog entries, Buenos Aires, particularly the CABA region is very Manhattanish and trust me. Manhattan was beautiful but super stressful. I imagine that life in B.A. is equally stressful.

American Expats in Buenos Aires Day 1 - The Arrival

American Expats in Buenos Aires Day 2 - The Search for KFC and Wendy's

American Expats in Buenos Aires Day 3 and 4 – Multicultural Mix and Racism

Return to Buenos Aires The search For Magic Donuts And The Ministry Of Education

The province of Jujuy also has a high suicide rate among teens and young adults versus Cordoba, which according to the psychologist (clearing throat) excuse me ... suicidologist, is caused by the level of extreme poverty.

Grief Counseling For The Family
I learned that there is a group called "Padres Del Dolor" which loosely translates as "Parents Of Grief/Pain". She claimed that the organization is only available in Buenos Aires and not in Cordoba but when I went online I found a group on Facebook that is located in Cordoba. So under the guise of a grieving parent who just lost her daughter and needed a support group to speak to, I reached out to them via e-mail. They never replied.

Suicide Hotline
There are suicide hotlines available. For the one in Cordoba you simply dial 135. You can also email them at The hotline has been around since 1982. The suicidologist was a part of it for quite some time but eventually left because she did not agree with their anonymity rule. She explained that not being allowed to get the caller's name and number or having the cops trace the call severely compromises the potential suicide victim. Whereas if they could trace the call they could send someone to pick the caller up and send them to a health care facility for short term treatment. She also disagreed with the anonymity rule because there was no way for the therapist on the other line to do a follow up. Yes! You might have prevented them from killing themselves at that moment but wouldn't it be great if you could call back and check on them to make sure they don't have a relapse? In this instance, I agree with her.

On the other hand, would you really trust calling a hotline that will likely have you locked up in a psych ward for admitting that you are suicidal? Probably not.

Torre Angela
It was once the tallest building in the province of Cordoba, but eventually another building took the title. But at the time it seemed like the obvious choice for people contemplating suicide to go to. The roof was accessible to anyone and they would jump.
The suicidologist mentioned that when her patients would tell her they were going to commit suicide by jumping off of Torre Angela, she would used reverse psychology and tell them to go ahead and do it but to consider the major traffic jam they would cause when their bodies hit the street. If they landed on a car, they would likely damage it and they should consider that. She claims that this worked into knocking some sense into her patients. But I wouldn't personally book a therapy session with Ms. Congeniality here.
After a series of tragic suicides, access to the roof of Torre Angela was no longer available to just anyone.

Final Observations
My observation of the questions being asked as well as the comments made by the attendees suggests that the majority of the people there believed that suicide is a weakness and that they weren't victims. Over the last three years I've noticed that people have a similar opinion about victims of bullying and abuse.

Argentina's Stance on Bullying

It seems that placing the blame on the victim and not the aggressor is preferable and convenient for certain people. Whether this mentality will change down the line remains to be seen.

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