The Big Issue: Shining the light on mental health

The seven candles represent the seven people in Australia every day who take their own lives as a result of mental illness.R U OK? It is a simple question to ask someone who may be having a tough time, but can make the world of difference to a person who feels isolated and alone. MATT ATTARD presents a series of stories on mental health awareness and suicide as we encourage the communityto walk ‘out of the shadows and into the light’ on this important topic.
Nanjing Night Net

LIFELINE’S Out of the Shadows and into the Light community walk is an annual event that sees thousands of Australians gather around the country on World Suicide Day.

It is just one of the many initiatives thought up by selfless people in a bid to try and cut the rate of suicide and raise the awareness of crippling mental illnesses.

Lea-Ann Foord is one such community member who has been personally affected by suicide, with her brother taking his own life 20 years ago.

It is since then that she has been involved with Lifeline Port Macquarie, taking calls from those who are thinking about doing the unthinkable.

Ms Foord said the Out of the Shadows walk was incredibly beneficial for the community. It was held in Port Macquarie on Thursday.

“It’s not only a way of honouring those that we know who we have lost to suicide, but it is letting those in our community who struggle with thoughts or have attempted suicide that we care for them and that they can ask for help,” she said.

“The walk itself represents the journey that people are on when they are thinking about suicide. It’s a hard journey.”

People often say that someone has lost their battle with cancer for example, but it is never said about suicide. People may not understand that people fight long and hard with suicide and sometimes they lose their long and tough battle with it.

“When you get into that dark place it is hard to see the light,” Ms Foord said.

“Everybody has someone who cares for them, but sadly when you are in a dark place people can not see that.

“I think there is so much shame and stigma around suicide. Sometimes people are really struggling with suicidal thoughts that sometimes they consciously let us know that they are thinking about it.”

There are workshops held to teach crisis supporters and that training is available to all members of the community, Ms Foord said.

Applied suicide intervention skills training workshops offer the same training that Lifeline crisis workers do.

A workshop at Club Forster will be held on September 24 and 25 and at Wauchope RSL Club on November 10 and 11. Fore more phone 6581 2800.

Port Macquarie Black Dog Ride organiser Todd Taylor says awareness is the key and that it is ok for men to not be ok.

IT is the elephant in the room, the confronting and dark figure that most blokes cannot and will not talk about – suicide and mental health issues.

Alarmingly, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness every year.

Of those people, about five percent of Australians will experience substance abuse disorders in any 12 month period, with men more than twice as likely as women to have substance abuse disorders.

If resorting to substance abuse as a way of coping and trying to relieve the pain is not bad enough, men are less likely to seek help compared to women – nine percent less likely, in fact.

Perhaps scarier is the fact that males are four times more likely than females to kill themselves, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at the end of 2014.

For every completed suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt. That’s around 200 attempts per day. That’s more than one new attempt in Australia every 10 minutes.

To top it all off, suicide is now the biggest cause of death amongst Australians aged 15-44 whilst men commit suicide at a rate of 4:1 to women. Why is that? Perhaps a part of the issue is that men are meant to be resilient.

Up until you hit double digits, boys cry as much as girls. Then all of a sudden they are taught to stop, taught to suck it up, brush off the pain of a fall off your bike for example, and hold your emotions in.

That fear of looking weak is scary. Being a blokey-bloke is what it’s all about, right? Wrong.

It is that ridiculous habit that is stopping men from talking about their feelings.

The Black Dog Ride is one such event, held annually to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention.

Port Macquarie Black Dog Ride organiser Todd Taylor emphatically agreed that men need to start talking, stating that awareness is the biggest step for men dealing with personal problems.

“You’re supposed to have a tough image as a bloke. From my point of view, as a motorcycle rider, you’re supposed to be a big tough bikie,” he said.

“But that’s the stereotype that we need to change. People should be open to going and talking to someone and getting the help.

“Through the Blackdog Ride and other initiatives it is a great way to change that way of thinking. Blokes need to know its ok to have a chat about feelings and get help.”

The services are out there. The people are on hand to support those in need. Together these terrifying statistics can be cut.

The Happy Walker – Terra Lalirra

TERRA Lalirra is a walking inspiration. Literally. The brave Bonny Hills woman knows all too well about suicide.

In 2010 Terra attempted to take her own life not once, but three times. Since then, she has been on a quest to raise awareness about suicide prevention and funds for the services that save lives every day, such as Lifeline.

Affectively known as the Happy Walker, Terra is on a journey around Australia on foot to raise $100,000 by December 2016.

“Walking is my main therapy. Effectively, The Happy Walk is my walk to recovery,” she said.

“It provides me with many natural and free therapies like exercise, sunlight, nature, purpose, achievement, volunteer service, smiles and fresh air.”

She is also responsible for Lifeline’s ‘Out of the Shadows’ walk in Port Macquarie which was first held in 2011 and is in support of suicide survivors.

Seeking help saved Terra’s life and and if not for the volunteers at Lifeline, she may not be here today to tell her amazing story.

“This fundraiser is a huge thank you to Lifeline for helping me get through some rough days and nights when I experienced relapse during the early days of recovery,” she said.

“I needed the 24/7 crisis hotline a few times over the first two years after trying to take my own life.

“Relapse can be frightening but I spoke with trained phone counsellors who prompted me to talk, listened and didn’t let me go until they knew I was in a safer place than when I called.”

Three years walking more than 16,000 kilometres is an effort for anyone but is a reflection of just how important this issue is for Terra.

So far, two years and 9,400 kilometers later, The Happy Walk has raised $14,000.

“Raising awareness is an equally important part of The Happy Walk,” Terra said.

“During the early stages of planning and preparation back in 2011 I discovered how lacking mental health services are across most of Australia.

“I have had many stark reminders walking through the most regionally remote parts of Australia of the loss and grief resulting from this.

“The least I can do is share my story, tell people how Lifeline helped me, listen to anybody who stops to chat and remind people to hold onto hope, reach out and talk to someone.”

Fourteen pairs of shoes, two cyclones, floods in Geraldton and Carnarvon, electrical storms, road rage and lightning strikes are all just some of the encounters Terra has faced. But she would do it all again if just to save one life.

“When I set out I hoped just one life may be saved through my story,” she said.

“I have heard from many people whose lives have been saved and changed, those I have met and others who read about it in their local paper or listened to their regional radio program.

“My story is only one of thousands of people who are survivors of suicide each year.”

To donate to the Happy Walk cause, you can visit 梧桐夜网thehappywalk南京夜网.

ASKING for help – it can be one of the most difficult things to do.

Over a five year period from 2009 to 2013, the average number of suicide deaths per year was 2,461.

This figure alone is terrifying.

For every five people you walk past in the street, one of those people will be suffering in silence.

It is not just adults affected, but the youth of today are also suffering with statistics collected by the Youth Mental Health National Survey showing 10-percent of teenagers have engaged in self harm.

There is some positive news however, with the number of young Australians seeking help doubling over the past 15 years.

This is thanks largely to the services available for those suffering from mental health issues such as depression.

Headspace is one such organisation and thankfully they have a centre located in Port Macquarie.

They provide mental health, wellbeing support and information to young people and their families in Port Macquarie and surrounding areas.

Nicole Kosseris, program manager at the Port Macquarie Headspace centre said mental health is the single biggest health issue facing young Australians.

“Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems,” she said.

“Body image is consistently ranked as the major concern for young people, with the proportion concerned about it increasing with age.”

Mrs Kosseris said that statistics can be impersonal as they don’t show the reality of the lives of young people and their families as well as the long-lasting impact mental illness can have.

“Statistics don’t convey the confusion, self doubt, social isolation, fear and sense of hopelessness many young people experience,” she said.

“It is important to get help early, talk to people so that you can work through your concerns.

“Here at headspace Port Macquarie we have staff on site each day that can engage young people with suitable options to better health.

We also offer Personal Training sessions, Art Classes and Social Inclusion activities.”

If you, or someone you know of any age, are suffering from mental health issues or are thinking about suicide there are a number of resources available. Of course as with any life threatening situation dialling 000 immediately is the best form of action.

There are four Headspace centres available on the North Coast including the aforementioned Port Macquarie centre as well as Tweed, Lismore and Coffs Harbour centres.

Headspace Port Macquarie is located at 10 Short Street, phone 65 88 7300.

They also have a phone line available for parents and young people which is 1800 650 890.

North Coast Primary Health Network’s Healthy North Coast website has a section on suicide help which can be accessed at 梧桐夜网healthynorthcoast.org419论坛/suicide-prevention/

You can call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 24 hours a day to speak with a counsellor.

Your local GP is a great person to speak with or alternatively you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, 24 hours a day.

If you are feeling suicidal talking to someone you trust and telling them how you are feeling is another excellent way of overcoming suicidal thoughts.

LIFELINE Australia Chairman John Brogden has called for suicide to be declared a national emergency.

In marking 10 years since he attempted to take his own life, Mr Brogden highlighted the 23,500 Australians who have died by suicide in that time.

“Every day, seven Australians die by suicide,” Mr Brogden said. “Furthermore, the number of suicides has increased by 20 per cent over the past ten years. What other cause of death would we allow such a significant increase without serious action?

“Over the same period, the number of motor vehicle deaths has reduced by 25 per cent to 1200 each year – less than half the number of deaths by suicide.

“We need urgent action. Suicide must be declared a national emergency.

“Seven Australians take their own lives every day. We should publish the suicide toll the way we publish the road toll. If we don’t talk about suicide we can’t stem the tide and reduce it.

“We have come a very long way in destigmatising and talking openly about depression and other ‘common’ mental illnesses but we still struggle to know how to deal with suicide. This is despite it being the largest single cause of death in Australia for men and women under 44, and our Indigenous People’s suicide rates being amongst the highest in the world.

“It is time to get angry and stay angry until we see suicides drop. The commonwealth, state and territory governments must agree, implement and fund a national suicide strategy as a matter of urgency – the cost of inaction is far too great for our community to bear.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Comments are closed.