From: Michael Barnett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 18 September 2012 01:20
Subject: A letter about helping families
To: Senator Nick Xenophon <email@example.com>
Dear Senator Xenophon,
It was in the late 1990’s that I discovered an Australian band called the Whitlams. It didn’t take very long before I was hooked on their music.
In many ways I found something special in each of their songs. They all had a different story to tell. A different part of someone’s life. Sometimes happy, sometimes not.
And so it was that Tim Freedman wrote “Blow up the pokies”. Yes, you probably know it well. “There was the stage, two red lights and a dodgy P.A.” And so the tune goes.
That song moved a nation. It’s sad, it’s poignant, and it laments the loss of a friend, someone dear, at a time in their life when they were out of control. Without knowing Tim’s friend Andy I can’t say why he took his life, but we do know it was because of his gambling.
And so I come to you, a passionate advocate for poker machine reform. You know that this form of gambling ruins peoples lives, destroys families, drives people to the depths of despair, and sometimes even as far as suicide. I sense there is a deep compassion within you that wants to turn around the hurt, turn around the disease and put the victims back on a better path, where they can live happier and healthier lives.
It’s because of this care for the community and your personal integrity that I am writing to you, Senator Xenophon.
There’s another sickness in society that is similarly taking people’s lives. I don’t have the figures to show you this minute but the problem is significant. Youth suicide is a serious problem around the country, especially in rural and regional areas. One of the more vulnerable or at-risk groups are same-sex attracted youth. Recent research has shown that these young kids attempt suicide at rates of 3.5 to 14 times higher than their heterosexual peers.
Marginalisation of same-sex attracted youth – kids who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual – especially when they are in small communities, and when exacerbated by strong and intolerant religious ideology, is a recipe for disaster. The rates of mental health issues, self harm and suicide that these vulnerable youth experience is alarming.
It’s when society sends a message that the relationships these people get into are taboo, sinful or simply inferior that it can drive home feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing. These feelings contribute to poorer mental health outcomes and possibly self-harm.
I come to you asking you to draw from the concern you have for the victims and families of poker machine addition and carry that over to the victims of attitudes intolerant of diverse sexual orientation and/or gender identity. I ask you to think about the devastatingly high rates of suicide that these misunderstood people experience.
The difference you can make to these people’s lives, a positive and powerful difference, is by endorsing their relationships, endorsing the love and commitment they want to share with that someone special and affirm to the rest of the nation that they are equal in every way to those people who are attracted to the opposite sex.
In particular, the most expedient and effective way you can help turn around this devastation and destruction is by putting your name to marriage equality. You will be telling every young person who is struggling with their sexuality or their gender identity that they can love another person, and be in a relationship with them and not need to be concerned about the gender of their partner.
There is a wealth of credible evidence on the harmful outcomes of this intolerance. You can view the Doctors 4 Equality web site if you want to research this any further.
The power to help make this difference for our community lies in your hands. It’s a big responsibility and if used properly has the potential to save many lives and restore happiness to many families.
Please contact me if you wish to discuss this any further. I would also appreciate a personal reply to this letter.