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At UN, Suicide Bombers Called Sane, High Vodka Prices Praised, Assisted Suicide Assessed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 10 -- Suicide bombers "do not suffer from mental health problems," the UN's speaker on World Suicide Prevention Day told the Press on September 10. Brian Mishara, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, accompanied by Werner Obermeyer of the UN's World Health Organization, painted a picture of suicide as a preventable act of a traumatized mind.

  Inner City Press asked not only about suicide bombers but also about assisted suicide. Mishara said that studies of "terrorists who die in their acts" show that they do not have mental problems. Video here, from Minute 46:05.  "They are screened out," he said, because they are "noticeable."

  Some would say that a person willing to blow themselves to pieces to kill others may well be abnormal mentally. While Mishara called it "an act of war, an act of violence" in which "death is secondary," he did not take into account the use or misuse of religious teachings to inspire suicide bombing. In these, death is hardly secondary.

  On assisted suicide, Mishara said it is legal in Washington and Oregon, where he said there are n barely over 100 requests. Of these, he said, 43% of those who get two doctors to approve their use of life ending drugs don't in fact take the drugs. Could it be that getting the approval is somehow empowering?

Mishara at UN, one year ago: sanity of suicide bombers not shown

   Mishara said that when Russia raised the price of alcohol and limited the hours it could be sold, suicide rates fell, and that they rose again while protests led to low prices for vodka being restored. The story seemed either to favor a regressive tax on alcohol, or perhaps its prohibition. Meanwhile, Mishara said that having suicide be illegal, even technically, makes suicide more likely because it more difficult to counsel people. As such he seemed to at once favor banning alcohol and legalizing suicide.

   The briefing took place at UN headquarters, where in recent years a security officer committed suicide in the Ex-Press Lounge, and where a staff member or contractor of the World Health Organization-run International Computing Center is said to have jumped to her death on a lawn by the East River. Neither incident was mentioned, nor the more recent mysterious death of a UN employee in Liberia who was under house arrest while being investigated for child sexual abuse. As we reported yesterday, his body was flown to Accra,Ghana for an autopsy, the results of which have not yet been released.

Footnote: while Mishara appeared to criticize the press for reporting on suicide in ways he disapproves of, many in the UN press corps remarked after his monotone briefing that he seemed depressed himself, including as he ate lunch afterwards. At the risk of a bad joke, all we can say is: get help! And that's not a joke. Suicide prevention hotlines are everywhere, including online, and should be used.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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