A leading suicide prevention expert has urged the public to band together this World Suicide Prevention Day to protect and support our communities.
Charles Darwin University psychology lecturer and founding member of the National Committee on the Prevention of Suicide (NCOPS) in Fiji, Dr Peter Forster said preventing suicide needed to remain a critical priority for governments as communities around the globe acknowledged World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday, 10 September.
Dr Forster said suicide was a complex issue without a single cause or a simple solution.
“Preventing suicide requires all in society to work together in partnerships to combat these tragic occurrences,” he said.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics more than 4000 Australians took their own lives in 2007 and 2008 - about six people every day.
Dr Forster said that for some people suicide was an impulsive act, while for others it was carefully planned.
“Some people take their own life or harm themselves without giving any warning, while others give some kind of indication of having suicidal thoughts or intent, especially to people close to them or to health professionals such as their doctor or a psychologist,” he said.
“The risk factors for suicide increase as communities become more rural and remote, and the suicide rate for Indigenous people is significantly higher than the general population, with young Indigenous males being most at risk.”
Dr Forster said there was also a known connection between mental health problems and suicide-related behaviours. It remained a sad fact, however, that the stigma associated with mental illness could discourage many people, especially men, from seeking appropriate help, treatment and support.
“I would ask everyone to support the national strategic framework, Living is For Everyone: A Framework for Prevention of Suicide in Australia,” Dr Forster said.
“I would also ask people to support the efforts of 2010 Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry and former chairman of the National Advisory Council on Mental Health, Professor John Mendoza to obtain more government funding for mental health and suicide prevention.
“And if someone reading this finds themselves feeling suicidal, please get yourself some professional help immediately. Lifeline is just a call away, any time of the day or night.”
Lifeline is a confidential telephone counselling service that is available 24/7. P: 13 11 14 W: www.lifeline.org.au.