yellow september

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Yellow September is focused on awareness, that is, despite its importance, it does not guarantee the resolution of deeper problems that affect mental health

We have reached yet another yellow September, in which the media and government agencies focus greater attention on suicide prevention. Although it expresses society's concern about a fundamental issue for public health, this campaign ends up having many limits. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it carries the same problems as any preventive action that takes place in capitalist society.

Yellow September is focused on awareness, that is, despite its importance, it does not guarantee the resolution of deeper problems that affect mental health. It is certainly important to make people feel heard and welcomed, but it is a mistake to place this at the level of will or personal choice. On the contrary, psychological suffering is not something that arises by chance, as an individual problem caused by a momentary crisis, but a product of the perception of a displacement in relation to experiencing society and being in the world.

Therefore, although pointing to relevant issues, a certain perception of mental health still seems to prevail that “individualizes failure, in the form of guilt”, causing us to isolate “the political dimension, from the objective determinations that attack our ways of life, resizing work, language and desire, of psychological suffering”.[I]

This perception of suicide as a choice or an individual will recalls Karl Marx's controversy in his 1846 writing on the subject, when he criticized the perspective of utopian socialists. For Marx, the number of suicides should “be considered a symptom of the deficient organization of our society”, after all, according to him, “in times of industrial paralysis and crises, in seasons of rising livelihoods and harsh winters, This symptom is always more evident and takes on an epidemic character.”[ii]

Suicide is an act for which one can never be completely sure what its causes are. After a person's death, people speculate about the reasons that led them to commit suicide, usually looking for a trigger in immediate issues that would have led them to that extreme. However, it is difficult to achieve a full understanding of motivations. To the extent that common sense considers the suicidal person to be weak and unprotected, the victim possibly chooses to hide the depth of their suffering, not fully demonstrating their motivations, whether in a farewell letter or in a psychotherapy session.

It is known that the suicidal person somehow loses hope in being in the world. The suicidal act seems to be a wrong choice, after all, according to common sense, it would be enough to continue fighting against everything and everyone and wish to rise like a Phoenix. The problem with this language coach lies in the fact that it ignores the material conditions to which that person was subjected throughout their life. A proletarian son of proletarians has certainly lived his entire life with financial or even housing instability.

He possibly experienced a series of family problems, such as abandonment and violence, despite having occasionally experienced episodes of family harmony. And, facing the future, she always saw a complete lack of definition, where school or university were presented as the only solution for a prosperous future. But the school itself was marked by all the difficulties, the university did not deliver what was promised and the dream job never arrived.

This is perhaps a caricatural description, and disregards subjects from other social classes, but the different elements describe, at least in part, the life of the majority of the population. Marx highlighted that capital does not have “the slightest consideration for the health and length of life of the worker, unless it is forced by society to have this consideration”.[iii] Added to this is a reality in which personal relationships are affected by social problems and, therefore, passions and loves end up not finding the satisfaction expected from a life together. What can be concluded is that living in society is marked by suffering and disappointment and that, throughout our trajectory, we need to develop a kind of shell – or an armor – so that we can be in this world so full of tragedies.

Therefore, if a person reaches the limit of trying to take their own life, it does not just mean a personal choice or action, but the expression of exhaustion in the face of an oppressive, exploitative reality full of pain and illness. Suicide is often associated with depression. It is known that, faced with depression, “the subject interprets adversity as a sign and permission to give up. Triumphs are felt as defeats and achievements as signs of insufficiency.”[iv]

Therefore, perhaps what is needed is not just a campaign centered on the idea of ​​“talking is the best solution”, slogan of Yellow September, but the improvement of public policies relating to mental health, aimed at the population as a whole and not just the “sick”. What is needed is a cultural policy capable of showing that mental health is not just limited to “crazy people”, but materializes in actions aimed at the population as a whole, especially those affected by the social misery that all people face. days.

Capitalism must be overcome, guaranteeing a better world for everyone, and, even if the new society cannot promise the end of suffering and discomfort, at least everyone can be guaranteed its reduction and an adequate welcome in extreme situations.

*Michel Goulart da Silva He holds a PhD in history from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and a technical-administrative degree from the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina (IFC).


[I] DUNKER, Christian. The depressive hypothesis. In: Neoliberalism as a management of psychic suffering. São Paulo: Autêntica, 2021, p. 190.

[ii] MARX, Carl. about suicide. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2006, p. 24.

[iii] MARX, Carl. Capital: critique of political economy. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2013, p. 342.

[iv] DUNKER, Christian. Reinventing intimacy: politics of everyday suffering. São Paulo: Ubu, 2017, p. 225.

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