How to talk to somebody about suicide
Discussing suicidal thoughts may seem like a daunting prospect. Learn to shape these discussions with clear and practical advice.Read more
It’s not just about raising awareness of the problem itself — it’s about raising awareness of what issues contribute to Australia’s high suicide rate.
Australia’s suicide statistics are alarming. 3,128 people died from suicide in 2017, a shocking increase of 9 per cent over the previous year. It’s such a significant public health problem that it has its own awareness day: World Suicide Prevention Day. Held in Australia and around the world on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day is observed with the intention of raising awareness of the problem of suicide.
Anyone can help raise awareness during World Suicide Prevention Day. Participation could be a simple conversation with a friend or family member, or it could be an elaborate workplace event.
What matters is that the issue is talked about and that people think about the problem and stigma of suicide. To that end, here are some ideas to think about on World Suicide Prevention Day.
Promote mental health awareness in the workplace or host a World Suicide Prevention Day event. Organisations like Suicide Call Back Service gladly provide materials like cards and flyers to help raise awareness for events (you can order them here).
Reach out to a mate or family member if you think they’re struggling. Take the time to speak to them, listen to what’s going on, ask questions and show them you’re there to provide support.
Listen non-judgmentally when someone opens up about their worries and concerns. Make it clear that it’s ok to talk it out. Do not ignore or talk down to them, don’t tell them to get over it, or instantly ‘take over’ the discussion and relate it back to yourself. Good communication is as much about listening as it is about talking.
The idea that someone just needs to “man up” to get over their stresses (and that talking about concerns and worries is bad) is not helpful. This is because bottling up stresses can potentially lead to problems becoming destructive behaviours. So let others know that it’s ok to talk about their worries and that they won’t get judged — and that it’s better in the long term because it probably helps prevent those stresses growing into serious problems.
Men outnumber women three to one in our suicide statistics, yet three quarters of men who are affected by a mental disorder do not seek help. The exact relationship between help seeking behaviour and suicide is complex. However, the fact remains that getting help and addressing stresses and worries early is widely agreed to be the healthiest way to help prevent problems becoming more significant.
You’ve probably noticed a common theme among these ideas for World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s not just about raising awareness of the problem itself — it’s about raising awareness of the issues that contribute to the suicide problem.
It’s one thing to know that 3,128 people took their own lives during the last period in which national suicide data were reported. It’s another to know that bottling up worries and stresses (because someone believes they’ll be judged or seen as weak if they talk about it) contributes to the suicide rate.
Reducing the suicide rate therefore involves changing the mindset. Raising awareness about Australia’s alarming suicide statistics is a good start — for change to be effective, more of us need to understand the causes behind the suicide rate.
World Suicide Prevention Day is the perfect opportunity to make that happen.
If you need to talk to a counsellor, call Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
If it is an emergency, dial 000.
A person who is thinking about suicide may give some clues or suicide signs to those around them that indicate they are distressed. These are often referred to as suicide warning signs. Suicide prevention starts with recognising these suicidal warning signs and taking them seriously.Read more
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