Bring suicide to the lightPosted September 11, 2012
BEFORE each holiday season, our TVs are full of messages about the road toll. But this week is a time to talk about something that takes more of our friends, mates, and family members. Monday was World Suicide Prevention Day and it coincides with the launch of Lifeline's Out of the Shadows campaign.
When you think about how many Australians are affected by suicide, every day should be suicide prevention day
Today, six Australians will end their own life. For every suicide, as many as 30 people attempt it. Lifeline estimates 1014 people think about suicide every day. It is the single biggest cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44. More than three-quarters of suicides are by men. A 2007 report found that deaths by suicide in regional areas were 20 per cent to 30 per cent higher than in major cities.
We all know someone who has been affected by suicide. Yet it remains a hidden problem.
It is time to bring suicide out of the shadows because it is preventable. Not talking about suicide doesn't help those who are contemplating taking the most tragic of steps. People suffering depression need to know how much support and care is available, and that there is absolutely no shame in talking about how tough things are becoming.
Someone in Australia calls Lifeline's 24-hour crisis support service every minute, every day.
As members of parliament from different sides of the country and of the fence, we know that we must all do better to tackle this scourge. That's why we are co-chairs of Parliamentary Friends of Lifeline.
There does need to be a cultural shift so that it is as natural to talk about the need to battle suicide as it is to talk about the road toll and skin cancer.
All Australians should take it upon themselves to learn the signs of people at risk. Such indicators may include a recent loss or change in circumstances, a sharp decline or change in mood, and increased and unusual risk-taking behaviour.
Lifeline's Out of the Shadows campaign is an opportunity for people to help make that difference. People will be taking part in organised walks and other activities to put suicide on the national agenda.
People who have been touched by suicide will walk at dawn to raise awareness and remember those lost to suicide. It is about encouraging others to seek help to prevent further tragedies.
Since its establishment in 1963, Lifeline has provided crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health services. Its crisis support line answers about 1250 calls each day.
Chris Bowen is Immigration Minister. Julie Bishop is opposition spokeswoman on foreign affairs.
To be involved or to make a donation visit www.lifeline.org.au.
If you need help call Lifeline's 24-hour crisis line on 13 11 14.
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