Monday, February 20, 2017

The Swede Story

Over the past week, Swedish social program folks have met and discussed an ongoing crisis....young immigrant/migrant males who are committing suicide at a noticeable pace (7 have attempted in the past three weeks, three successfully).  I should note, all were Afghan.

The general story?  There are a large number of young migrant folks under the age of 18 who've made their way into Sweden.  All were told to fill out the immigration papers and submit.....because it's NOT a guaranteed matter to get a visa and be allowed to stay.  The current trend?  Roughly 80-percent are granted a visa....meaning a fair sum (600-odd folks for 2016) fail.

What bothers the Swedish social folks is that it's mostly all young men attempting suicide and in some cases....they were pushed on (peer-pressure) by other migrant teens to 'go ahead and do it'.

Few people talk about this but in general.....Sweden has one of the higher suicide rates of any European country.....17.5 per 100,000 residents.  Reason?  They generally give two reasons.  The first is the darkness factor of winter (you are talking about roughly 22 hours of darkness in December).  A lot of people can't handle that.  The second factor is that Swedes generally don't get aggressive about seeing a mental health person when behavior or emotions require it.

In the case of these Afghan teens?  I would add several other factors to the list:

1.  The behavior or maturity level of a Afghan 15-year old isn't exactly at the same point or level as a Swedish or German or American 15-year old.  I've noticed this here in Germany where local Germans wanted to perceive everyone acting and behaving at the same age-level, and it's simply not that way in real life.

In the case of a lot of these Afghan 15-year olds.....they've made some big adventure and come all the way into Sweden without any family connection and no adult-mentor.  While the Swedes may operate some dorm-like structure and try to guide the kid.....I think it's more show than a legit program.

2.  Lack of structure.  If you are sitting around after school for eight hours and have basically nothing constructive going on....especially as a 15-year old'll likely to get yourself into trouble or start doing some really stupid stuff.

I doubt if the Swedes want to sit there with some authoritarian "Sarge" dumping jobs and activities on some kid for eight hours everyday and sixteen hours per Saturday.....but that's basically what they need.

3.  The 'sum-total-factor'.  If you were young, immature and not really grasping of this whole what happens after you get to the "magic kingdom"?  You have to prepare yourself for a rough period of not just days or weeks.....but months and years of adjustment.  There's the language business where you probably won't speak reasonable Swedish until you've wrapped up nine months of intensive language classes.  Acceptance by the locals?  It might be three or four years before you have a couple of Swedes who you can call a "friend".  Occupational training?  High taxation?  High cost of living?  These are all realities of the adventure that you undertook but really didn't think to a great degree of the sum total of this adventure.

These Swedish social program folks are likely sitting in some conference room and going over the rate of suicides and how they really need to lessen the numbers very quickly.  If this trend were to could be looking at 50-to-100 dead Afghan males by the end of 2017.  Someone may suggest that each and every young male needs to have some local Swede assigned and trying to mentor them.  I personally doubt that people want this kind of responsibility.  I also doubt that this is a problem that you can just throw money out and hope for some quick solution.

It'll be curious how this gets solved in the end.

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