Please stay: Suicide Prevention in Australia

Please-Stay-Suicide-Prevention-in-Australia

Following World Suicide Prevention Day and RUOK? Day, we wanted to shine a light on the work being done around suicide prevention in Australia.

Last week we listed nine great resources you can use to learn more about WSPD, and this week we are grateful to share this article published by Warcry magazine.

Please Stay

Do struggle with mental illness, or have you thought about suicide?” As I stood at the back of the school auditorium, hands popped up all over the building. I watched the kids open their eyes, and you could see the shock on their faces—the look when they realised they weren’t the only ones struggling.

I was visiting a group of school students with a mental health organisation, and even though I knew this class of 16-year-olds would reflect the numbers—that one in four of them would experience mental health issues—seeing it firsthand leaves you breathless.

I have encountered this scenario many times, and it never gets any easier. There is no simple solution, but speaking to someone who is struggling always starts with the simple admission, “You are not alone”, and the recognition that God will always meet us in our brokenness.

The process continues by handing over a list of resources—perhaps the number of Lifeline and the details of a local church—and it builds momentum when the brave individual walks through the doorway to a counsellor and enters recovery in a healthy community.

On the ground, this is what it takes to combat the suicide crisis rippling through Australia, and in the last year it has hit the headlines more than ever before. From the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, to the death of Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington, it’s become harder to simply turn the page when headlines like ‘Australia’s Suicide Crisis Has Peaked to a Terrifying New Height’ come up. But that awareness is a good thing. Because, even though the headlines and statistics make your stomach lurch, with them comes a widespread movement to erase suicide—and it has reached Australia.

The World Health Organisation tells us that we lose nearly 800,000 people across the globe each year to suicide (that’s one every 40 seconds). Those numbers may be hard to comprehend, so let’s start at home.

In Australia, an average of 3,000 people die each year by suicide—or eight people a day. It is the leading cause of death in people aged 15–44, making it more likely to take a young person’s life than a motor vehicle accident or skin cancer. And while suicide dramatically impacts our young people, it is not prejudiced—it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 45–54. It is also more likely to occur in people who ex­perience mental illness.

Suicide rates for men are three times higher than women, and we see it peak in women aged 35–49 and men over the age of 85. With it comes a rise in self-harm (not necessarily an attempted suicide), and up to an additional 25 attempts by other individuals for every one death.

It’s also important to note that suicide is most prevalent amongst minority groups and veterans. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, and young people in regional and remote locations, are most at risk. In fact, in many of these areas, youth suicide happens in clusters, and rates are more than double the national average.

Given this, it’s not surprising that the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us suicide rates have reached a 10-year high.

Are you winded yet?

Take a deep breath. The facts are grim. But on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and RUOK? Day (September 14), we remember this: there is hope. Hope that comes from a healthy church community, and hope that we can share the strength and purpose we find in God.

Just like the group I volunteered with that day, there are many organisations and people across the world that are committed to embodying hope to combat suicide.

On a global scale, non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms is leading the way, and have named their World Suicide Prevention Day campaign ‘Stay. Find what you were made for’. They are using the event to raise funds for suicide prevention and recovery, and have encouraged hundreds of people across the world to share their purpose for existing, using the hashtag #IWasMadeFor.

Nationally we also have many organisations determined to turn the tide. The increase in suicides over the past decade has led experts to push for changes to national mental health policy, including Lifeline CEO Peter Shmigel who said, “While we’re prescribing more medication for mental illness than ever before…we are not doing enough to combat social factors that lead so many to choose death over living.”

In a recent interview with The Australian, child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg also pushed for action from the government to combat youth suicide, saying, “This is a generation that is…really struggling; I’ve never seen anything like it.”

While experts are urging policymakers to change things, the good news is that our nation is at the forefront of researching the health crisis. The Black Dog Institute, which uses research to reduce the incidence of mental illness, associated stigma and suicide, has observed that mental health tools are more effective when they are mobile and accessible 24/7 through technology.

Their Digital Dog research sector develops and creates apps and websites to complement face-to-face treatment. For instance, one of their latest trialled apps is named iBobbly, and it engages Aboriginal people with culturally appropriate art, music and stories to provide mental health care.

While technology can be used to educate people and prevent suicide, it is the relationships that people build with their com­munity that will save lives.

We see this on a local level with Salvo corps (churches) around Australia beginning much-needed conversations about mental illness, and giving people a safe place to heal, receive prayer, find a counsellor and enter recovery.

It also occurs through mental health organisations like the National Youth Mental Health Foundation Headspace, which provides early intervention mental health services for young people aged 12–25. They have more than 100 centres across Australia, and are convoying around the country in the days leading up to RUOK? Day, hosting community events in 20 locations so people can learn how to ask someone if they are at risk of suicide.

It’s impossible to change the statistics overnight, but by approaching this issue one person and one life at a time, we can make a difference. And that starts with us simply opening up the conversation with the words, “Are you okay?”  

Where to find help:

Call
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Help Line 1800 55 18 00
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Chat online
eheadspace.org.au
beyondblue.org.au

Find help near you
headspace.org.au/headspace-centres
beyondblue.org.au/get-support/find-a-professional
hopemovement.com.au/findhelp

twloha.com/findhelp

In an emergency, always call 000

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Nine great World Suicide Prevention Day resources

Nine-great-World-Suicide-Prevention-Day-resources

It’s overwhelming to think that we lose 400,000 people every year to suicide. But we can all take small steps in our own lives to bring down the numbers and better support people in our community who are struggling.

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is this Sunday, September 10, and it provides us with an opportunity to talk about this oft-taboo issue and how it impacts so many of us. A great way to start is by educating yourself on the issue and speaking about it with a friend or a counsellor.

Here are nine great resources you can check out this WSPD. Not only will they inform you, but they will give you advice on the warning signs, how to help a friend, the best places to seek help and, highlight events going on locally and online that you can participate in.

This World Suicide Prevention Day, we are glad you are here.

  1. Suicide Prevention Australia
    Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body for the suicide prevention sector in Australia. Their official website for WSPD provides you with resources to print out and share with your community. This year’s theme is ‘Take a minute, change a life,’ and SPA have a terrific calendar of local events so you can connect with people in your own community who are advocates, survivors and loved ones of those gone too soon.
  1. Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” video

When US singer Logic performed his song “1-800-273-8255,” at the MTV Music Video Awards, the world was enthralled with his moving and beautiful tribute to people struggling with suicide. The name is taken from the number of the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and calls went up by 33% after he released the song in April. You can watch the video here and share it online via YouTube (Content warning: some images in the video may be triggering).

  1. To Write Love On Her Arms

Every year, TWLOHA run a World Suicide Prevention Day Campaign, and this year the theme is ‘Stay. Find What You Were Made For’. Over the US National Suicide Prevention Week (September 10-16) they will release new content online to create conversation around suicide prevention, and encourage people to seek help and, above all, stay.

  1. Stay. Find what you were made for’ video.

To correspond with their WSPD campaign, TWLOHA have released a powerful video, encouraging people to stay. Supporters, celebrities, athletes and musicians all make appearances on the video, telling the world why they have chosen to stay and what they were made for. If you want to begin a conversation about suicide prevention but don’t know where to start, this is the perfect video to share with your family and friends.

  1. ‘I’m Listening’

This new radio based campaign brings together some of the biggest names in music: Metallica, Logic, Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Halsey, Jack Antonoff (Bleachers), Khalid and more. Organised by Entercom, a two hour radio broadcast will take place on September 10 at 10am ET, and artists will share their own stories, talk about how to help family and friends, discuss how to navigate discussions around suicide prevention and mental health, and provide help and resources.

  1. Hope Movement

This Aussie charity is running a week-long campaign for WSPD called ‘You Will See The Morning’. Head to their website for daily content, free downloads and learn how you can take action in your own community to help prevent suicide.

  1. R U Ok Day?

Suicide Prevention Charity R U Ok? Have been convoying round Australia over the last six weeks, engaging with people and educating communities on how to approach the much needed ‘are you okay?’ conversation when we notice a friend struggling. Finishing on September 14 for R U Ok? Day, they have a slew of great events you can attend, as well as some fabulous resources on their website that will inform and empower you to seek help, or help a friend.

  1. Out of the Shadows by Lifeline

Australia’s primary suicide hotline, Lifeline, runs the Out of the Shadows walk every year to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day. The walk raises awareness, remembers those we’ve lost, and unites people with the common goal of erasing suicide once and for all. You can plan your own walk and find resources here.

  1. Watersedge Blog: On Chester Bennington and how to identify someone at risk of suicide

Earlier this year, we published a blog about the death of musician Chester Bennington. We know that the suicide of public and much beloved people impacts communities around the world, and in this blog we gives you some advice on how to identify if a loved one is struggling, and how to take action around this.

Are you struggling with thoughts of suicide? Have you lost a loved one and find this time of year particularly difficult? Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here. 

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.