I was recently speaking to a friend about issues around mental health, and the impact to the individual, families and communities. Somehow the conversation drifted to the topic of suicide and suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
My friend said to me “I truly believe that people who take their own lives are so selfish, there is no problem in the world that equates to ending your life”. As I sat there listening to this friend narrate the story of people she knows who have taken their own life, who she perceives as “ungrateful” and “going to hell” – passing judgement - I could feel the urge to immediately stop the conversation as it was becoming too “uncomfortable”.
I kept asking myself questions - How can I change the perception of people like her who believe suicide and suicidal thoughts and behaviours are an abomination? That suicide is simply unforgivable?
Unfortunately, her perception of suicide is very common. There is already existing stigma around people who occasionally struggle with everyday life due to various mental health issues and other social factors. There are good days and bad days, but some days are much, much worse.
When it comes to suicidality many people suffer in silence because of the “shame” of admitting to themselves and others around them that they feel like “life is not worth living”. That they may get called “selfish” “uncaring” and all other names. They carry the guilt of feeling how they feel, increasingly feeling isolated from the “accepted community judgement and perceptions”.
People who think about suicide are in pain, a silent pain that feels like a bottomless pit, it has no end and can be all too consuming and debilitating. To them it is not necessarily wanting to end their own life, it is more about wanting the pain they feel to stop.
This is how I explained it to my friend during our long conversation, and when she said to me “But how do you know this? How do you know it is emotional pain they feel?” I said to her “It is because I have known that pain”. She looked at me with almost unbelieving eyes – “but you are one of the strongest people I know, how, why…..”. She had no more words at that moment.
You see, there is no such thing as a “typical” sufferer, and those who do feel these thoughts are often very adept at hiding it even from their closest friends and colleagues – which is why it can come across as a seismic shock when someone within our circle of contacts succumbs to their internal demons.
I am grateful for the conversation like the one I had with my friend and; over the course of years, many others; because conversations such as this can help remove the stigma associated with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Conversations such as this can change perception and conversations like this can help build understanding and compassion.
Conversations like this can help save a life.
How can we stem the tide of this preventable death by suicide if we are unable to talk about it? As for me, this is a conversation that must be heard!
Here are some facts about this suicide we should all be aware of:
According to Australian Bureau of Statisticsdata on suicide deaths in Australia, over 3,000 people died by suicide in 2015. That equates to around 8 people who tragically take their own live in Australia every single day.
Over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt every year
Around 400,000 Australians experience suicidal thoughts every year
Around 35,000 Australians are admitted to hospital for suicide-related injuries every year
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age.
Many people who die by suicide have experienced a mental illness.
Often people who are considering suicide are dealing with a combination of poor mental health and difficult life events.
Individual and community’s perception of suicidal behaviour can play an important role in preventing suicide or the degree to which suicidal behaviour is disguised. The great majority of people who experience a mental illness do not die by suicide. However, of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder. It is critical that we must learn how to have the conversation about suicide and how to safely support someone thinking about suicide.
To tie in with the National R U OK Day on Thursday September 14 - which inspires and empowers everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and to support anyone struggling with life by starting the conversation around mental health – I am hosting “The MHFA for Suicidal Person”. This will provide you with practical skills and knowledge about how to safely support when someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviours and allows you to practice these skills in a safe environment.
You will learn:
· Understanding accurate information about suicide in the Australian context.
· How to identify signs and risk of suicide
· First aid guidelines of how to help when someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviours
· Practicing these skills in a safe environment.
MHFA for the Suicidal Person Course is not a postvention course and is not recommended for individuals recently bereaved by suicide. The MHFA for the Suicidal Person Course is not a therapy course but will help you to learn more about suicide prevention and how to have the conversation that can save a life as well as where to get help and support.
This is a 4-hour face to face course to be held on Thursday 14 September 2017 from 1pm to 5pm.
Please Note: We run this course in small group numbers which allows creation of a safe and comfortable space for participants and allows us to provide support and care needed. Reserve your space now.
Pricing: $99 (incl. GST) per person
Course participants receive a Handbook to keep and receive a digital Certificate of Completion when you submit online feedback.
Places are limited. For registration or more information, please contact us on 0411 330 382 or send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Completion of this course does not accredit you to become Mental Health First Aider - you need to complete the 12 HR Standard Mental Health First Aid Course if you want to be accredited as a Mental Health First Aider.
If interested in the accredited 12 Hr Mental Health First Aid Course – our upcoming public course is on Friday 10 November 2017 and Saturday 11 November 2017. Spaces are limited so please reserve your booking here.