Yesterday I received a call from a friend I haven’t seen for a few years as she lives on the Gold Coast. She called because a young single mum of three primary school children had taken her own life last week.
As this woman was part of her community she is devastated – although not in her immediate circle of friends – she felt that there must be something she could do to help in relation to suicide prevention.
We talked at length, and I felt that this is really a call to action for me.
Yes I have written a book on the subject – not as an expert able to rattle off facts, figures and preventative measures – but as someone who was an active participant in the flow on effects of a loved one dying by suicide.
Yesterday I felt that I haven’t done enough in the area of education in this matter. Like anyone, I can research the latest statistics on suicide in our country – and to our shame – we have a humanitarian crisis on our hands because our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are more than twice as likely to die by suicide than Non-Indigenous Australians. Seriously – that is really something we as Australians should be particularly ashamed of.
Some figures updated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in September 2016: In 2015 there were 3027 deaths by suicide, meaning that there are 8.3 deaths by suicide in Australia every day!
76% of these were male (2,292 at an age specific ratio of 19.4 per 100,000). The other 24% were female at an age specific ratio of 6.2 per 100,000.
While these age specific rates are lower than the most recent peak in 1997 at 14.6 per 100,000, they have increased between 2013 (10.9 per 100,000), & 2014 (12.2 per 100,000) and in 2015 to 12.7 per 100,000.
These figures only relate to Australia, and for my international readers, I’m sure that there are similar figures for your countries as well. This is not an isolated phenomenon.
Sixteen years ago I had not been touched by suicide at all – I was someone who believed that sadly, it happened to other families – until it happened in mine. Now I am hearing stories so often about suicide and its far reaching effects. I’ve learnt that it is not just the family who suffers, it is the wider community who feel the effects too.
As with the conversation I had yesterday, I strongly believe that we ALL have a responsibility in this. Yes, there are lots of agencies who are well equipped to deal with suicide and those considering the option, but it starts way before that. As a community we need to be diligent, to be on the alert for warning signs that someone isn’t coping well.
I believe it is far better to perhaps feel a little silly by asking someone if they are considering suicide than to have to attend a funeral. I don’t like funerals, and I would prefer not to have to go to one for someone who has died by suicide.
So, I see this as my call to action as too many families around me are hurting. If we could all take a little bit of responsibility in this arena, then perhaps we could start turning those statistics around.
My friend talked about the possibility of introducing a concept similar to the ‘Buddy Benches’ that are being implemented in many of our schools, as a stand against bullying, and I agree that it is certainly a step in the right direction, but not without lots of education.
So, where do you stand on this? Let me know your thoughts on the subject. What will be your ‘Call To Action’???