Thursday, 14th September is R U OK? Day, which aims to promote ways in which we can all play a part in preventing suicide in our local communities.
Suicide is the biggest killer of people aged 15-44 in Australia
Statistics show that 3,000 people die by suicide each year (that’s 8 people every day) and what’s more, 65,000 individuals attempt suicide per year. Suicide can affect anyone, but it still remains a taboo subject in society.
Think back over your day today…how many times have you said “how are you going?” Tens? Hundreds of times? And have you ever had the niggling feeling that someone is holding back how they’re really feeling? Maybe they’ve not been quite their usual selves for a while?
You might have noticed that they are more sad or irritable than usual, they might appear more hopeless about the future, or more self-critical. They may be talking more about death, or giving away possessions.
People who experience suicidal thoughts are often feeling the most isolated and hopeless that an individual can feel. This can get in the way of them reaching out to let others know how they’re feeling. A simple question like “Are you okay?” can be all it takes to save a life.
But what if asking about suicide puts the idea into someone’s head?
There is no evidence to suggest that this is true, and in fact, asking someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts gives them a sense of being cared for, connected and valued – giving them relief from the isolation they feel and opportunity to release negative feelings; all of which can reduce the risk of suicide.
What if I say the wrong thing? Or don’t know what to say?
There’s no wrong way to show that you care about someone – it’s as simple as “are you okay?” or “you don’t seem yourself, is something wrong?” Even if they don’t open up right away, you have let them know that you are there and care for them.
Here are a few more tips to use if you have the conversation about suicide:
- Listen without judgement – let the person know that you believe what they are saying and value them sharing their feelings with you…remember, anyone can experience suicidal thoughts.
- Encourage action – come up with a plan of how they can commit to taking smalls steps towards getting help.
- Check-in – make a plan to meet up again soon to catch up with how they are doing.
Getting professional help
Our Psychologists are trained to help people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Research tells us that by helping people to build the skills they need to manage and tolerate distressing thoughts and emotions, we can help to keep them alive. Our team can help you to start building those skills today, as well as treating underlying mental health problems.
Contact us today on: 0411 542 624 / firstname.lastname@example.org / or CLICK HERE to send us a message.
Other useful services
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts and feel at risk of harm, and/or require urgent medical assistance, you should always call 000.
If you need someone to speak to out of hours:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
For more tips on asking about suicide go to www.ruok.org.au