I know from personal experience that the second week in September can be tough going.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that there’s so much more awareness and that events like R U OK? and World Suicide Prevention Day have given people the knowledge and confidence to have meaningful conversations about mental health and suicide.
What I find really difficult - and I know many others who feel the same way – is how the prevailing messages shared across this week makes it seem like suicide prevention is a relatively simple, one-off thing.
For people in the complex mental health community, thoughts of suicide can be a regular occurrence. People living with long-term mental illness are significantly more likely to die by suicide than the general public. In some cases, the suicide risk is up to ten times greater.
If you ask someone living with trauma, psychosis or long-term depression if they’ve considered suicide, chances are the answer will be yes.
Yet, we rarely see this recognised in public discussion and the experience of the complex mental health community is not often represented.
The knock-on effect is that the specific needs of our community can be disregarded when it comes to suicide prevention policy, programs, funding and awareness.
And this is tough, because we really need support, investment and acknowledgement.
In order to impact suicide rates, we must address the broader factors that underpin mental health – access to secure housing, freedom from abuse and violence, employment equity and social inclusion. A properly funded and functioning health care system is a critical first step.
People living with suicidal ideation require safe, supportive and ongoing connection. Someone understanding to speak to when they are having a particularly bad day.
And finally, those with complex mental health need to be involved in policy making around suicide to ensure that their needs are included when decisions are being made.
We deserve to be part of this conversation. So let’s raise our voices and be heard.
If you or someone you know is at immediate risk please call 000 or visit your nearest hospital.
For crisis support contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
For connection with others in the complex mental health community, peer support and counselling go to https://www.sane.org/get-support