News + Comment 2014
A SANE Statement: The Martin Place tragedy - Why generalisations don't help in the search for answers
In the wake of the tragic events in Sydney's Martin Place, there has been much reflection on and analysis of the siege, as Australia grapples to come to terms with what has happened.
Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of those who lost their lives and the others in the café caught up in this terrible event.
This is a challenging time for us all as we search for answers.
In our endeavour to makes sense of this tragedy we need to take care that we don’t leap from a single, tragic incident to broad generalisations about groups in our community that can be very unhelpful.
SANE Australia has been contacted by a number of people concerned that some public comments made may unintentionally increase stigma towards people affected by mental illness and that, as a result, people who need help might be deterred from seeking it.
The violent acts of one person do not change the fact that mental illness has an impact on a large proportion of Australians, who live positive and productive lives that are enhancing our community. After all, one in five of us is affected every year.
Generalisation about any group in our society is never helpful and often harmful.
This is true of attitudes towards the Australian Islamic community, and it is heartening to see a swell of online support for them through the hashtag #illridewithyou. This has gone some way to reducing the stigma that could ripple out in the days, weeks and months to come towards our Islamic fellow-Australians.
A similar approach is also needed to those among us who are living with a mental illness.
We warmly welcome the leadership and words of NSW Premier Baird on the need for us all to work together to get through these difficult times.
SANE Australia CEO Jack Heath
A national charity helping all Australians affected by mental illness lead a better life.
• Lifeline www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/
• Suicide Call Back Service www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
• SANE Australia Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263) or www.sane.org
Suicide prevention is a key focus of SANE Australia. Federal Government support has enabled SANE to train mental health professionals to improve recognition and response to clients at risk of suicide; to conduct research with people who have attempted suicide; and to work with media to reduce stigma so that people can get the help they need early on.
SANE media contacts
03 9682 5933
0414 427 291
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