Today is R U OK day, and September is World Suicide Awareness month.
Our family has lost 4 people to suicide, 3 relatives and a close family friend. I myself spent a few years with depression and anxiety. I used to self harm and I contemplated suicide often. I even tried it once, and by some miracle it didn’t work.
What can we do to help prevent more suicides?
Research tells us that talking and being open about mental health can help. Reducing the stigma around mental health, particularly for men sharing about their issues, is also important.
If you are struggling, reach out. A trusted friend, acquaintance or even a stranger. Places like Beyond Blue, Headspace and Lifeline also offer someone to speak to in times of need. I have found myself unable to share my struggles with people who knew me sometimes, and I have reached out to an acquaintance who I felt would understand instead. And it helps. The weight of carrying your problems alone is a huge burden to bare. They say a problem shared is a problem halved, I believe there is truth in this. I shared something really personal and difficult in a group recently, and was so afraid and resistant to do it yet when I finally did it felt like a weight had been lifted, and my issue lost the huge hold it had had over me.
If you see someone else struggling, reach out to them. Perhaps you have noticed someone in your circle who hasn’t been quite themselves lately, reach out. If you are worried about them and unsure what to do, you can call Lifeline 13 11 14 for advice.
The sad part of all this is that often the person struggling can appear to be doing fine on the outside. When I go through my Dad’s photos he was always joking, laughing and smiling. He was the lovable larrakin and not many people apart from his family knew the issues he was hiding under the surface. His suicide came as a shock to his mates who thought he had been so happy.
I hope we can all pay attention to our own mental health and that of those around us. Suicide takes more Australians every year than road accidents and the impact on those left behind is devestating.