Suicide Prevention? How Many Human Rights Can Dance On The Head Of A Pin?

The pinkish vision of a woman clutching her head, a broken figure in front of a broken canopy of gold tears
The Color of Dispair photographic art by Russ Seidel Russ Seidel is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The color of despair in a forest of tears is photographic art by Russ Seidel.

In Australia, how many well-being influences can be gathered up and sheltered under the immeasurably well-intentioned umbrella of a ‘Human Right?’ Indeed, is ‘well-intentioned’ a sufficient reason to define a human right, and then pursue it?

Take the United Nations-defined Human Right to Adequate Housing. Can/should we hang the following Australian media article on one or more of these pegs: “Cost of living, financial pressure biggest threat to Australian suicide rates”?

Can a definition of ‘a Human Right to Adequate Housing’ include some kind of ‘peace-of-mind’ right? And if so, how should the right be satisfied in practical terms?

Can this be achieved, on a personal basis, with a consequential right to medical assistance, such as tranquilizer pills?

Or does the Right To Adequate Housing require the entire rebuilding of complex societal interplay that has evolved in Australia between all the various processes which touch upon home access such as:

    • the housing development and construction industry
    • the mortgage market
    • the financialization trend which turns housing into poker chips in a national/international casino?

Canada, unfortunately, seems to be flirting with yet another possibility — a human right to commit suicide. So here we have the bizarre consequence of a human and housing health threat — suicide — that can be mitigated by  . . . suicide1.

Read more on this Human Rights dilemma in Cost of living, financial pressure biggest threat to Australian suicide rates

For a detailed look at forces that are conspiring against the peace of mind of Australians and possibly threatening their Human Right To Adequate Housing, read more at Australia’s housing crisis pushing thousands into poverty and homelessness

United Nations documents direct that the signatories to “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” undertake to progressively realize the right to adequate housing. The UN also directs that priority should be given to remedying the housing rights of those who are most vulnerable (e.g. people who have no homes and people living in precarious housing situations). This is discussed on page 31 of the Fact Sheet on the Right to Affordable Housing.

Australia and Canada have both signed the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


  1. Try: The Poor: Thoughtful UK Opinion Roasts Murderous(?) Canadian Policies