I live and predominantly work at providing mental health services for rural and remote regions of South Australia. Recently I have been saddened by the number of suicides I have heard about. There are services available to provide support which, even working in the area, can be difficult to navigate and locate the appropriate service, so I thought I’d provide some guidance and useful links.
Suicidal risk is often the elephant in the room; there is an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to acknowledge let alone discuss. This reluctance is understandable, it can be frightening, overwhelming, and anxiety provoking – what do I say/don’t say?; what do I do/don’t do? It is uncomfortable but worth discussing as “suicide is a prominent public health concern” (The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its Causes of Death, Australia, 2013 data on Tuesday 31st March 2015) bringing with it intense psychological distress and complicated grief.
For some perspective, The ABS also reported:
* “Over a five year period from 2009 to 2013, the average number of suicide deaths per year was 2,461.
* In 2013, 1,885 males (16.4 per 100,000) and 637 females (5.5 per 100,000) died by suicide, a total of 2,522 deaths (10.9 per 100,000), which equates to an average of 6.9 deaths by suicide in Australia each day.
Groups at risk of suicide
* People with a previous history of attempted suicide are at greatest risk of suicide.
* Mental disorders such as major depression, psychotic illnesses and eating disorders are associated with an increased risk of suicide especially after discharge from hospital or when treatment has been reduced.
* People with alcohol or drug abuse problems have a higher risk of dying by suicide than the general population.
* Males are around 3.3 times more likely to die by suicide than females.
* Young Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander males (15-19 years) are 4.4 times more likely to die by suicide than are other young Australian males. Similarly, young Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander females (15-19 years) are 5.9 times more likely to die by suicide than are other young females.”
The above are statistics on successful suicide attempts and does not include unsuccessful suicide attempts. These statistics also do not include the prevalence of suicidal thoughts which are very common and it can be a sign that help is needed as a small proportion of people who think about suicide can develop suicidal intention.
WHERE TO GET HELP
If you or someone else has attempted, or is in immediate risk of attempting to harm themselves:
* Call 000 (or 112 from a mobile) and request an ambulance. Stay on the line, speak clearly, and be ready to answer the operator’s questions
* Attend your local hospital’s emergency department
Crisis Support Lines
The following services are confidential and available 24 hours, seven days a week.
13 11 14
(for all ages)
Suicide Callback Service
1300 659 467
(for all ages)
1800 551 800
(for ages 5-25 years)
1300 78 99 78
(for men of all ages)
Support Services – A comprehensive list of services available nationally.
Suicideline – Although the service is specific to Victoria, their website provides valuable information about suicide, self-help, supporting others at risk of suicide, and bereavement from suicide.