Working together to prevent suicide

Each year the International Association for Suicide Prevention highlights the importance of this issue on 10 September. This year’s theme is Working Together to Prevent Suicide.

Suicide prevention is not just an issue for Tasmania or Australia but something that requires international attention. It’s a big issue.

Suicide is responsible for more than 800,000 deaths across the globe each year and it has a profound effect on individuals, families and communities.

For each life lost to suicide, around 135 people are affected through grief and loss. That equates to approximately 108,000,000 people bereaved by suicide each year – a staggering figure.

We can all take an active role in preventing suicide every day. Through our work at Relationships Australia Tasmania and SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY, people often ask what they can do to make a difference.

One of the most important things we highlight is finding the time to check in with those around you. Finding the time to reach out to someone if you are concerned about them or think they might be doing it tough can make all the difference.

You don’t have to be an expert to take an interest. Supporting someone to pick up the phone or reach out for help can be critical – it can take courage to ask for help or let someone know that things are really hard.

One of the other things that we believe can be powerful is to find ways to let other people know how they can assist with this important work.

Share information about World Suicide Prevention Day, R U OK? Day or appropriate, non-stigmatising language to talk safely about suicide and let people know that you’re happy to chat.

It can be beneficial during positive and mentally well times to learn about what’s available to support your own mental health, and the mental health of those you care about. Having a better understanding of the warning signs and seeking the right support for yourself or someone you care about in the midst of a difficult period of your life is much harder to do.

So, on all days, but especially 10 September 2020, put some time aside to think about the people or services that you could turn to should you need support.

R U OK? Day serves as an important reminder of the power of a conversation.

Find the time to check in with the people around you – a conversation can change a life and it doesn’t take long when you use the four key steps: Ask, Listen, Encourage Action and Check in.

This year, R U OK? Day is focusing on continuing the conversation through their key message which is There’s More to Say After R U OK?

By learning what to say next you can keep the conversation going when someone says they’re not OK, and that conversation could change a life.

SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY has had a long and close association with the team at R U OK? and our direct involvement this year will see the team busy again doing more of what they do every day – raising awareness about mental health and reducing stigma associated with help seeking by engaging with many Tasmanian businesses throughout the day.

The SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY team will visit a broad range of businesses and organisations. The team will be creating a video of the day and asking people:
  • What does R U OK? Day mean to you?
  • Why do you think it’s important to keep the conversation going when someone says they’re not OK?
  • What are some of the phrases or questions you use to help someone open up if they’ve said they’re not OK?
  • What would be your advice to anyone who’s feeling unsure or is not confident how to keep the conversation going when someone says they’re not OK?

Days like World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day are vitally important to raise awareness of suicide prevention and provide practical ways for people to engage with those around them.

It is important to find ways to work together every day so that we can reduce the impact that suicide has on the community.

It can be as simple as remembering Lifeline’s 13 11 14 phone number so that if the need was to arise, you have the number at hand. Those six digits can provide an important connection when things seem incredibly hard.

Don’t underestimate what we can achieve if we all work together to prevent suicide.

Above all else try to be kind – your personal reach could make all the difference.

- Contributed by Dr Michael Kelly, CEO Relationships Australia Tasmania & Mitch McPherson, Founder SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY

If you or anyone you know needs help:

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