It is deeply distressing to have a suicide in a small town, but to have four in the space of two weeks defies mere words or phrases.
My heart goes out to those affected because at least four families, their close friends and their families, have had to face the terrible news that a loved one had taken his or her own life.
In the past suicide has been an issue considered best not discussed, but how can we stay silent in the face of such a tragedy?
How is it that these precious lives can slip away like so much water passing through our fingers?
It is not only a local issue. A steep rise in death by suicide among middle-aged Australians and young women has driven the national suicide rate to its highest level in 13 years.
Australia's suicide rate rose to 12 per 100,000 people in 2014, according to Bureau of Statistics figures released in March – the highest level since 2001, when it reached 12.6 per 100,000.
In talking to various people, one of the issues everyone agreed was that it was time to remove or get rid of the stigma associated with suicide and mental health matters.
Not talking about it hasn’t worked – we need a new approach.
As clinical psychologist Susanna Genot said, for most of us, it can be hard to understand the internal darkness and feeling of such enormous negativity that can fill those suffering mental ill-health.
Those affected can lose a sense of future perspective, they simply can’t see a future for themselves and as hard as it is for us – the friends, the family, the colleagues – we must try and connect with sufferers to somehow help them back from the edge of their personal abyss.
We need to be prepared to ask the hard question: “Are you thinking about suicide?” However we also need to know how to deal with the answer. What resources are available and how can we access them.
If you feel you would like to add to this conversation, whether through personal experience or as a mental health worker, we welcome your comments. Let’s not make silence an option.
If this has raised concerns for you, contact one of the following organisations:
Lifeline: 13 11 14, www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467, www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636, www.beyondblue.org.au
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