Suicide in Australia is at its critical point. With suicide deaths now more than twice the national road toll, and with the overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide in Australia men, we must take a stronger stance and a proactive approach to its prevention.
The latest alarming figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show 2864 people died from suicide in 2014, up from 2335 in the previous report, released in 2009. That equates to almost a 14 per cent increase.
About three-quarters (75.4 per cent) of people who died by suicide were male, making intentional self-harm the 10th leading cause of death for men in Australia.
Tony Holland is the CEO of OzHelp Foundation, a national men's mental health organisation which aims to prevent the suicide of working men by supporting them in workplaces to be more resilient and confident in meeting life's challenges. Mr Holland says;
"When I see those numbers, I can't help but think – Where were the people? How many services were they accessing? How many of us actually tried to have conversations with them? And how many proactive services were trying to intervene?"
Despite what people say, suicide is preventable. These figures simply highlight that we, as a nation, need to do so much more. We need to continue to find ways to connect with not only men, but women and youths too.
We need to provide support and education in both our communities and in the workforce. And we need to do this before it is too late.
Crisis care and mental health institutions are of utmost importance when it comes to bringing suicide rates down. But if we're placing all our focus on crisis, we're actually losing the battle before it has even begun.
The key to stopping suicide is in prevention. We need to stop stigmatising mental health. We need to educate people about it, and encourage them to have the confidence to open up and simply have a conversation with somebody – whether it be their work colleague, family, friends, neighbour or even the person at the bus stop.
OzHelp Foundation has a 45-minute introduction to mental health program called ALERT which is delivered to around 9000 people each year across Australia. Last year the program was delivered to a group of students at a training institution, teaching them about the warning signs surrounding suicide. To read more click here.
The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August2016. You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.