Why we need to stop saying ‘Suicide is not the answer’.

Comfortable and chicThis week has seen several high-profile suicides, and it’s also sparked a multitude of posts from people talking about suicide, providing support and information, asking questions about suicide, creating conversation and unfortunately condemning those who have taken their life.

I have read some amazingly insightful and heartfelt posts from people who are sad, who understand the impact of suicide from either losing a loved one themselves, or from feeling suicidal at one point in their life.

We have also seen well-meaning posts that really do more impact and damage than people realise.

And that’s the important thing to remember –  the people are being well-meaning when they say these things. They care, and they feel empathy for the person who is in enough pain to take their life, so they say, ‘suicide is not the answer’ and end their post.

And they are right, suicide is not the answer, to the healthy, happy and well people out there. Because when you are well, and everything is going right for you, and you’re not in the deepest darkest pit you have ever been in in your life, suicide just seems so wrong.

But…to the person who sees no way out of their pain, to the person who has tried to seek help but it didn’t work, or they didn’t get the answers they needed, to the person who thinks the whole world would be much better off without them….suicide is the only answer.

That’s hard to hear.

It’s so hard to understand what it would be like to be in that much pain, to be that lonely or lost or just so very tired, it really is, and there is no way we can every understand what it would be like to be in that place.

No one ever wants to think that a person is in that much pain, and they want to stop it. They want to make it better for all people, so they write posts, without understanding the impact their language can have.

By saying ‘suicide is not the answer’……all you are doing is making the person who is feeling suicidal worse.

They know that it’s not always the answer, but it is the only answer they can see. And if it’s so wrong, but it’s the only way they can see out, then obviously they are a horrible and terrible person to think about doing something so wrong, and the cycle continues.

‘I’m feeling bad, the only way out I can see is suicide – but people say suicide is wrong – if it’s the only way out I can see I must be bad – I’m such a bad person I deserve to die.’

I absolutely think that the only way we are ever going to reduce the statistics of suicide in Australia, and globally is to talk about it.  To have conversations, to have debates, to learn and to actively stand up and try and make a difference.

I don’t want to condemn people who write well-meaning posts, I don’t want this blog to be hating on people, because through this conversation, someone may learn something, and that person will tell someone else, who may tell 10, and that is how change happens.

So keep having those conversations. keep writing those Facebook and twitter posts, but before you press enter, just take 5 minutes to think – is what I’m writing beneficial? Is it lacking in blame? Is my language correct?  Is this post going to help someone? If the answer is Yes – then go for it!!!

Another thing I want to clear up is that not only famous people take their life. Suicide is something that can affect people of all ages, all races, all socio-economic background – Everyone is at risk of suicide.

I read a post on Facebook that really made me so upset for the lack of understanding and compassion that some people have.

The person had written ‘this happens every year, always 3 people’.

Dear person who wrote that post – On the day that the famous person took their life, 8 Australians and  123 Americans also took their life.

So, no. It’s not always 3 people every year. It is so many many more.

So let me educate you –

  • In 2016, 2,866 Australians died by suicide.
  • 2,151 males and 715 females
  • Suicide rates have increased over the last 10 years

I’m not going to go into all the statistics, if you want more information  and more detailed statistics check out Mindframe here –

http://www.mindframe-media.info/for-media/reporting-suicide/facts-and-stats

I understand that when a celebrity takes their life people want to talk about it, they feel a connection with the person because they liked their singing, or their cooking, or the movies they made.

And I understand that people don’t always have the capacity to talk about suicide, it’s not something that they have ever seen in their life, they don’t know anyone who took their life, so when a celebrity takes their life, they want to talk about it.

And again – that’s great talk about it. Let’s create a global conversation.

But please be careful, please think about what you write, think about who might be impacted by what you write.

If you do know someone who is suicidal, or if you’re feeling suicidal yourself please reach out, use these resources – and if you don’t get the answers you need, try someone else.

Suicide callback service – call 1300 659 467 – available 24/7

Lifeline – call 13 11 14 – available 24/7

Kids Helpline – call 1800 55 1800 – available 24/7

If you would like to know more about how to support someone who is feeling suicidal, or you would like to learn how to identify the signs that someone might be feeling suicidal check out Mental Health First Aid Australia and look at their Mental Health First Aid for the Suicidal Person program.

(Or send me a message as I am a trained facilitator of this program, and other MHFA programs)

So please take care of yourself, give yourself a break. Know that you are loved and cared for, that you are amazing and resilient and very loved. You are a unique and amazing individual who has so much to give and so much to live for.

Please ask for help if you need it, please give someone a chance to prove to you how much of a fabulous human being you are.

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