10 November 2020, Australia –Youth mental health charity batyr is calling for more action to reduce the number of deaths by suicide in Australia, and says we need to come together in our communities to shift the way mental health is viewed and spoken about.
This comes after the latest ‘Causes of Death, Australia’ report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed a 6% increase in the number of deaths by suicide over 2019 compared to 2018, and a 33% over the past 10 years.
At a snapshot:
- In total, 3,318 Australians died by suicide in 2019
- Suicide accounting for 115,221 years of potential life lost
- With over one-third of those dying by suicide aged 15-24.
“It’s important to remember that behind these numbers are individuals, and their affected families, friends and communities. The latest suicide figures are a reminder that there is more work to do to solve this complex challenge facing young Australians, and it’s not just at a Government and healthcare system level,” batyr CEO Nic Brown.
“Access to the right mental health treatment and care is crucial but the first step in reaching zero suicides is to reduce stigma and normalise conversations around mental health. We all need to put our hand up and decide the role we want to play to turn these numbers around.”
“It’s easy to forget the impact we have on those around us who may be suffering in silence by the way we talk about mental health. Whether it’s intentional or not, when we’re negative or dismissive of mental ill-health, it can deeply affect the potential to live a long and fulfilling life.”
“When it is positive, it can help encourage the next step in the help-seeking journey and help them feel less alone.”
“We need to learn from the experiences of young people who suicided and what got them to that point.”
“We also need to learn from stories of hope and recovery from young people who were able to reach out and access support that worked for them.
“Although they continue to navigate life’s challenges, these young people are thriving and helping others to do the same.”
“We need to provide opportunities for these stories to be shared because research tells us that it’s an important piece of the prevention puzzle.”
What can you do to reduce stigma and normalise mental health in your everyday life?
We need to talk about checking in on our mental health the same as we do about going to the shops to buy some milk:
- Check yourself for stigmatising language that may be indirectly stopping a young person in your life from speaking up or reaching out for help. Many of us talk about mental health in a negative way without realising it, or with no intent to hurt those around us. Instead of associating suicide with a crime or a sin by saying someone ‘committed suicide’, you should say they ‘suicided’ or ‘died by suicide’ (more suitable language when talking about suicide can be found at everymind.org.au). Similarly, instead of defining someone by their mental illness, you can say they have ‘a diagnosis’ of depression, for example (more guidelines at everymind.org.au).
- Speak up with people in your life that you trust if you’re going through a rough time. Not only can this start your journey to improving your mental health but it can create a ripple effect among your loved ones to continue having open and honest conversations.
- If you are worried about someone in your life, don’t be scared to reach out to them and ask them how they’re doing. Ask them directly, “Are you feeling suicidal? Have you had suicidal thoughts?”. A common myth is that these kinds of questions will ‘put ideas in their head’. This isn’t true. Beyond Blue has clear guidelines on how to have a conversation, and even has conversation starters under ‘What to say’. This really helps to keep the conversation going.
- If you’re particularly concerned about someone and aren’t sure how to help, remember that you’re not alone. You can always call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for more support, or Triple Zero (000), if you’re concerned about someone’s immediate safety.
- If someone wants to have a conversation with you, be an active listener and reassure them that they’re loved and supported. You can also point them in the direction of service providers who can provide further resources or crisis support.
- If you have been affected by suicide or you’re supporting someone, always remember to take care of your own mental health and reach out for support if you need it.
“There is so much amazing work going on in so many mental health organisations and by individuals who are dedicated to ensuring we don’t lose young lives to suicide.”
“We want to continue working with these organisations, individuals and the community as a whole to reach zero suicides.”
If you’re in need of mental health support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.