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
Australia’s 2018 suicide statistics showed a shocking 9 per cent increase in the number of people who took their own lives. What can you do to help reverse these figures?
In July 2019 the Prime Minister announced that suicide prevention is a national priority and that the Government would work towards a zero suicide goal.
A contributing factor behind the announcement may be the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent ABS Causes of Death report. It’s Australia’s most reputable report on national suicide statistics and when released last year it found that national suicide rate had actually increased (the next report is expected to be released in late September 2019).
The findings reaffirmed or revealed some alarming statistics about suicide in Australia.
The zero suicide goal announcement, accompanied by the appointment of a new National Suicide Prevention Adviser, almost certainly means there will be greater public awareness and increased emphasis on suicide prevention strategies.
Much of this will be driven by government policy and funding. However, suicide prevention needs to become everyone’s responsibility if we want to see a consistent reduction in suicide rates in Australia.
There are many things you can do to help those affected by suicide and suicidal thoughts, including:
These strategies are known to be effective for managing distressing situations that involve suicide. They are in response to the effects of crisis, whether it’s because a person died by suicide, tried to take their own life, has suicidal thoughts, or is grieving because of suicide.
Suicide is an incredibly complex phenomenon. The circumstances that lead someone to think about suicide are never alike for two people. For instance, people who die due to self-harm are thought to have a significantly higher rate of mental illness — yet not everyone who takes their own life meets the definition of having a mental disorder.
Suicidal tendencies and thoughts often result from a person’s belief that there is no way out. They have reached a point where they may feel that they are no longer able to cope — and often this has come about due to multiple worries and concerns.
It is therefore everyone’s responsibility to help reduce Australia’s suicide rate.
Supporting people during moments of crisis or distress is of course vital. However, there is arguably one easy thing that everyone can do to help bring down our suicide statistics.
It requires no special knowledge, no training, and usually takes up little time.
This one idea is remarkably simple: normalise the idea that getting help is ok and that support is available.
Quite simply, to normalise getting help means removing the stigma of speaking up and getting support when someone is struggling.
Not getting help for a concern or worry is thought to be one of the key contributors to suicide. For instance, there’s likely a correlation between the fact that men outnumber women three to one in our suicide statistics, and that three quarters of men who are affected by a mental disorder do not seek help.
Our society has advanced considerably in its treatment of mental health disorders. Nonetheless, many people may be reluctant to talk about their worries or concerns. This may be due to shame, embarrassment, or a perceived fear that talking about worries and concerns may be seen as a sign of weakness. In fact, talking about it, whether with a friend, family member, or a Suicide Call Back Service professional counsellor is one of the best things anyone can do.
It is therefore everyone’s responsibility to ensure that those who may be struggling feel they can talk about their worries and get support — without being judged or stigmatised.
If you are worried about someone, and need someone to talk to, call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 to speak to a counsellor.
If it is an emergency, please call 000.
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