Keeping the conversation alive

Extract from an article published in Viewpoint magazine.

To lose a loved one to suicide is a tragedy that no one should ever have to endure. Sadly, the situation is by no means rare, with suicide the leading cause of preventable death in Australian adults under 40. Yet we hear so little about it.

The Government needs to speak about mental health, and it desperately needs to act. The failure to address mental health in our nation is devastating lives and families. A recently released Senate Report, The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia, aims to change that.

Australian of the Year and mental health advocate, Professor Patrick McGorry, recently told the National Press Club that there “should be a campaign to reduce the suicide toll on the same scale as the effort directed towards cutting the carnage on our roads.”

When you consider that in 2009 there were 1,509 people who died on Australian roads while more than 2,000 took their own lives, it’s peculiar that such a campaign doesn’t exist. A public campaign could provide a framework for discussing this issue, and this would be helpful for the whole community.

Knowing where to access help, how to talk to those who are vulnerable and how to support those who are bereaved are important community skills. Such information can make it easier to begin a conversation, whether for those affected, those concerned or those at risk.

A poignant comment contained in the submission to the Senate by Suicide Prevention Australia reads, “…we must keep the conversation alive to keep the person alive. Peer support is critical…”

We cannot let this tragedy continue to silently take the lives of men, women and young people. We must ensure a national conversation takes place and that national action is implemented. We have a Senate report, we have a chance to make a change – and we have a moral imperative to do so.

Those who would like support and information about suicide prevention can call Lifeline on 13 11 14

~ Ruth Limkin