News September 2023
International Day of Awareness, World Suicide Prevention Day
This month we’re paying special attention to an International Day of Awareness, World Suicide Prevention Day (hosted by International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), and Supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO)).
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates more than 700,000 people die due to suicide each year, with a global rate of over twice as high numbers in men than in women. In Australia, it’s the leading cause of death among people ages 15-44 and up to 1 in 6 Australians experience suicidal thoughts or behaviours in their life (reference: Suicide Call back Service).
There are so many days of awareness’, some light, and others creative, this one however, can be quite activating. Many of us have lost loved ones or know of people in our communities who have lost their loved ones to suicide. Some of us, may even be survivors of suicide. It’s a heavy topic that has touches most of our lives and it’s for that very reason that the IASP have opted for the theme of ‘Be the Light’ and creating hope through action. This year is all about ways that we can all be a light to one another which starts with stepping into what most people are worried about or even scared of, having the conversation with someone we suspect is considering suicide.
How do I have this conversation?
BE PRESENT – Approach the person you’re concerned about. When we take the initiative to contact the person we’re worried about, we’re demonstrating to them through our actions that they are not alone, and that you see them, and you care about them, EVEN if at the time, because of how clouded their mind might be, they’re not able to see that. Your presence alone is helpful.
ASK & LISTEN: Talk to the person, ask them what’s going on. Tell them you’ve notice they’re not quite their usual selves and you’re worried about them, and want to be there for them, and then LISTEN. Don’t pass judgement on what they tell you OR tell them how they should feel. Don’t get angry with them OR tell them how you would react differently to their situation, just LISTEN, and reassure them you’re here for them. It’s ok to tell them ‘I don’t know exactly how you feel, but I do care about you and I’m here for you’. Where you can, encourage them to consider that how they feel right now may not be how they will always feel, that this may not be permanent and that you are there to help them.
PLAN: Ask them about how they intended to commit suicide, and plan with them on how to remove weapons, chemicals, and tools that they would use. Create a plan of action for support, talk to them about seeking support including talking to someone who might be able to guide them to health services and agencies, or contact your local health professional or agency, or call Access Line 1800 800 944. Assure them you will be with them every step of the way if they would like you to be. Ask for a commitment from them to not act on their plan for suicide or harm until they’ve seen a professional.
If they resist your support or your help and you’re concerned that they will move forward with the suicide, do not delay and call 000.
Help Yourself: Being there for someone who is considering suicide is no small feat, and it can take its toll. It’s important you connect with people around you to be able to support you through this. Consider the oxygen mask analogy in an aircraft, we must be able to put the mask on ourselves first before we can assist the person next to us, even if they are the most vulnerable people on the aircraft. We’re of no use to anyone else if we don’t first look after ourselves. Call a friend to debrief, or if you’ve been triggered book an appointment in for yourself with a counsellor.
Stay in touch: Contact the person again. Call them, text them, drop in to visit them 24 to 48 hours after you’ve spoken with them, and remain in touch with them even months after. Often people who seek support for suicide prevention receive high intensity, wrap around support at the time and when they are able to return to their usual lives, can feel even more isolated and lonely than before. It’s important they know they continue to be cared for, and have supportive people in their lives that want to see them live a fulfilling life. Be the light that shows them this, simply by:
- Being Present
- Ask & Listen
- Help yourself
- Stay in touch
This September 10th – On World Suicide Prevention day, join us at 8pm by lighting a candle near your window to spread awareness and strike up a conversation within your community and networks, of how we can all in our small ways ‘Be the light’.
Links for further information