World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 was about raising awareness of suicide and identifying how to work collaboratively towards a world without suicide.
Statistics show that three million Australians will consider suicide at some point in their lives, more than 65,000 Australians will attempt suicide, and over 3,000 will die by suicide.
To commemorate the day, Suicide Prevention Australia held a webinar, bringing together key members of government and the suicide prevention sector to raise awareness about suicide.
Speaking at the webinar was Federal Member for Dobell and Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Emma McBride.
Other speakers were Governor General David Hurley, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, CEO of National Mental Health Commission, Christine Morgan and CEO of Suicide Prevention Australia, Nieves Murray.
McBride said World Suicide Prevention Day and R U Ok? Day were vital as they raised awareness and encouraged people to speak up and listen to those experiencing mental distress.
“The last 18 months have been very tough for our community, and it’s perhaps more important than ever to speak up about mental health,” McBride said.
“The biggest risk factors for people in mental distress are social isolation, unemployment and the breakdown of personal relationships.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic has exacerbated this.
“To address these risks, we need practical solutions like better financial support and security for communities in lockdown.
“Knowing that you are financially secure can lift a huge burden off someone’s shoulders and that support can help save a life.
“It’s also important for us as a community to speak up, to help reduce the stigma and to feel comfortable having that conversation with people.
“Things are tough right now, so we need to keep an eye on our friends, family and neighbours, and check in with them to make sure they’re okay.
“It could make all the difference,” McBride said.
With the ongoing lockdown affecting mental health across the state, organisations such as Lifeline are seeing record numbers and there has never been a more important time to check in with one another says Central Coast Suicide Prevention’s Manager, Esther Sole.
“Life can be challenging and it’s okay to not be okay.
“Sometimes it is hard to reach out and ask for support, even when we need it the most.
“If you notice someone you are close to isn’t their usual self, maybe they are more withdrawn or appear to be struggling.
“Asking are you okay is a great way to reach out and start a conversation.
“By reaching out to someone who might be struggling and starting a conversation, we can show them that they are supported and encourage them to access the support they need.
“Checking in with friends, family and colleagues is more important than ever and can make a big difference for someone to feel connected and supported.
“Everyone goes through ups and downs in life, and we can all use a little extra support at times.
“It doesn’t need to be fancy, sometimes a cup of tea and a chat can make a world of difference to how someone is feeling.
“Looking after mental health is just as important as looking after physical health.
“Getting out and active can be a great way to check in with those close to us.
“We are lucky to have amazing mental health and wellbeing supports in our community. but sometimes knowing when or how to assess these services can be overwhelming.
“Asking someone if they are struggling and may need some extra support is a great way to help someone identify supports and link in with the help that they might need,” Sole said.
Warning signs include talking about existential things, talking as if others would be better off without them, sudden social withdrawal, hypersensitivity, talking about wanting to die, extreme mood swings, talking about being a burden to others, expressing feelings of grief or suffering, saying they don’t see a way out of a difficult experience, behaving recklessly, struggling to find meaning in life, increased use of alcohol or drugs, practicing self-harm, experiencing distress, reliving trauma, talking about feeling trapped, expressing self-hatred, and expressing extreme loneliness and isolation.
If you require help, information or counselling call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Suicide Call Back Service who provide free counselling on 1300 659 467, Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36.
Other services that can help include MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 and Kids Helpline, that provide confidential counselling for children and young people aged 5-25 on 1800 551 800.