Tomorrow, September 10, marks World Suicide Prevention Day, an annual day to raise awareness of suicide prevention and reduce stigma around suicide.
This day is recognised around the world, observed in more than 60 countries.
A key emphasis of WSPD is the recognition that everyone can make a difference in preventing suicide.
This year’s theme is again Creating Hope Through Action, which serves as a powerful call and reminder that there is an alternative to suicide and through our actions we can encourage hope, strengthen prevention and work to reduce stigma.
The end of last year saw the release of the new Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Strategy 2023-27, our State’s roadmap to reducing suicide in our community.
Encouragingly, individual and community action is strongly represented alongside much-needed professional health and crisis support services. The Strategy is supported by an annual implementation plan to ensure we are taking the necessary actions to reduce suicide and suicide attempts.
We have been doing community-based suicide prevention work for more than a decade through the Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Community Network, our suicide prevention Community Action Plans, SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY’s programs and our work with Suicide Prevention Trial Sites.
As a result of this work and our engagement with people across Tasmania, we have learned that individuals and communities are critical in preventing suicide through their collective action.
Suicide is a complex and multifaceted issue and for this reason we need to ensure that we have a range of responses to meet people’s needs.
What are those actions? How can we as individuals, as families, as friends, as communities make a difference?
Learning more about suicide and some of the risk and protective factors can help to increase awareness of the warning signs and those who may be at risk of suicide along with reducing stigma.
A great first step can be finding some time to have a look at the World Suicide Prevention Day website, accessing information from Beyond Blue or RUOK’s public resources.
By understanding how to talk safely about suicide, we can reduce the stigma that can be associated with suicide and make it easier for people to ask for the support they need. Check out the Tasmanian Communications Charter or the Conversations Matter website for information about the use of safe language and how to talk about suicide in a way that’s safe.
There are a range of training options such as QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), Mental Health First Aid or Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training that are available to members of the community. Upskilling people to recognise the signs and engage directly in a conversation with someone who may be at risk of suicide can support vitally important conversations to happen by increasing people’s confidence to have them.
Take a moment to memorise Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis support number 13 11 14 so that you can get in touch with them if you or someone you know needs support.
By creating opportunities in our communities to connect and meaningfully engage with each other, such as through community events, men’s sheds, sporting clubs, neighbourhood gardens and more, we can reduce loneliness and isolation, increasing the support networks that people have around them.
We all have the capacity to contribute to suicide prevention in Tasmania, we all have a role to play. In our SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY Sports program we talk about the concept of a 1%er. In football for example, a 1%er is a small move that only adds 1% of value to a game. A spoil, smother or tackle, these are not as big and glamourous as a mark or a goal. Yet, a good coach will tell their team, that the way to win a game, is by doing 100 1%ers – winning is a team effort.
There are some similarities to work in this area. We are never solely responsible for helping another person reach 100% mental wellness. Rather, we can help by bringing 1% (sometimes 10,20% or 30%).
Supporting that person to build their own team around them – a ‘team’ of strategies to support their mental health. The team should involve a variety people (personal and professional), activities, interests, and personal strengths. When we know people have a team around us, we can spend time on the bench taking care of our own mental health and be ready to help out when people need us.
Tomorrow, on World Suicide Prevention Day, consider who might be on your team and whose team you are on.
Dr Michael Kelly, CEO Relationships Australia Tasmania and Mitch McPherson, Founder SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY
If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, seek help and support from A Tasmanian Lifeline 1800 98 44 34, Lifeline 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467, or the Lifeline crisis chat service at www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat. In an emergency, call Triple Zero 000.