It does not matter what the issues are in our life, we must have a conversation and talking to someone about the situations we find ourselves in will relieve pressure and help us to normalise our own response to these issues. The challenge for all of us is to recognise where we are at, and then work through it. As a society we have perhaps become too politically correct about what we talk about and how we talk about it! Conversations around suicide are a classic example of this!
When we consider that 75% of suicides in Australia are men, it is important to develop an understanding of life problems in our own lives and in the lives of others around us. Suicide does not have a set of risk factors that you can refer to and suicidal ideation is not necessarily a mental illness. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business.
There is a lot to talk about when we are discussing suicide, and it is essential that we all learn more, but three key points summarising what we know about suicide are:
- A distressed (suicidal) person does not want to die. They want to stop the pain;
- It is safe to talk about thoughts of suicide with at risk people;
- Suicide is not usually a complex decision, the reasons (layers) however behind the suicidal thoughts are complex, and usually need professional help.
We also know that a lot of completed suicides are a result of people being under extreme distress (what we call situational distress) and not from a mental illness. We do not have to have a diagnosed mental illness to complete suicide.
People quite often ask, when should I be concerned? Be observant about any changes in a person’s situation, anything that is out of the ordinary for that person. Some experts spend all their time talking about indicators of risk, and higher risk groups (men for example). However, we all should be deemed at risk if we have shit going on in our life. Suicide can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Knowing individual human capacity is the unknown factor!
We should never underestimate the power of ordinary people to make a difference and the important role we can have supporting someone through a difficult patch in their life. This can be in the three areas of our life where we often connect with people – our family, workplace and/or community group.
We must always remember a conversation can change someone’s life. Sometimes this is confused with, a conversation can save someone’s life (only that person can save their own life).
We do not know if someone is suicidal unless we ask. If we have that gut feel about the person, we must ask. It’s not easy, we do not need formal training and our ‘language’ is up to us. We do however need awareness, empathy and the ability to listen. If the answer is ‘yes’ put in place an immediate plan for both support and follow up ensuring the safety of all. We need to be prepared to act. There is plenty of help out there (refer to useful contacts below), the local mental health team, local doctor, and other support services in your area. Be prepared by becoming informed. Remember …before it all gets too much… Talk to a Mate!!®
When we talk about suicide, it always presents material that some people may find distressing. If you know of someone feeling depressed or suicidal please contact one of the following services:
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
- Mensline Australia – 1300 789 978
- In an emergency always call – 000
Owen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277