#NoTalkDay encourages members of the community to talk about suicide

Posted 1st July 2019 in General

Today there will be no shows, no announcers, no news, no traffic reports and no advertisements across the airwaves of Triple M stations in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne as part of a national campaign to give space for Australians to start conversations about suicide for #NoTalkDay.

This campaign links in with the national #YouCanTalk campaign, highlighting how anyone can have a conversation with people around them.  

Suicide is an important issue that affects every community across Australia.

According to Everymind Director Jaelea Skehan, preventing suicide and supporting those affected, deserves nothing less than an all of government, all of service system and all of community response. 

“While there is more investment and more activity here in Australia than ever before, there is still more progress to be made," Ms Skehan said.

“There are many elements to an effective suicide prevention strategy, including a responsive crisis system, available and evidence-based treatment and support, reducing the access to methods people may use to harm themselves, working with the media and addressing the social determinants that increase distress and risk of suicide.

“But part of building a safety net for those at risk of suicide distress is to build the capacity of people across our community to reach out and offer support, rather than waiting for someone who is thinking about suicide to put their hand up to ask for help.”

Last year, a number of Australia’s leading suicide prevention and mental health agencies joined together to launch the  #YouCanTalk campaign, encouraging the community to be part of the national suicide prevention effort. The group was joined by three others in 2019, Roses in the Ocean, The Centre of Best Practice Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and SANE Australia. 

#YouCanTalk is a direct response to landmark research conducted by the University of Melbourne, indicating that Australians wanted to do more to prevent suicide in their communities, but didn’t know how. 

Over half of the people surveyed believed that only mental health professionals can help to prevent suicide and 40 per cent were worried that talking about suicide might make things worse.

Ms Skehan said while we are better at raising awareness about suicide in Australia, members of the community are still unsure about how to navigate conversations involving the ‘s’ word.

“Sometimes people are fearful of asking “Are you okay?” because they feel ill-equipped if the answer is “No, I’m not,” Ms Skehan said.

“People can be even more fearful about asking if someone is thinking about suicide, in case the answer is “Yes, I am.”

“The truth is, you don’t need to be a trained professional or an expert to support someone going through a tough time.

“#YouCanTalk is about giving people the confidence to act on observations and concerns, and have the conversation with those they may be concerned about.”

Tips to consider if you are talking to someone you are worried about:

  1. It is better to reach out than avoid the person for fear of getting the conversation wrong. Experts generally agree that asking someone whether they are thinking about suicide is unlikely to make the situation worse or ‘put ideas in their head’.
  2. If you feel uncertain if your friend or loved one may be at risk, ask the question directly – “Are you having thoughts about suicide?”  and be prepared for the answer to be yes.
  3. Make the person feel comfortable by listening without judgement or criticism and don’t try to ‘fix’ the problem or talk them out of suicide. Just listen.
  4. Ensure they are safe for now and talk to the person about who else to involve so they can be supported. You can assist by connecting them with other supports and services.
  5. Connect with resources and supports that are available to you to help you navigate the conversation.

While these discussions can be uncomfortable for people, the silence of others can reinforce the isolation, stigma and shame a person may already be feeling. 

The #YouCanTalk campaign aims to build on work happening across Australia with options for our local community to get involved.

To access a range of national resources to support #YouCanTalk go to: www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/youcantalk

For tips on navigating conversations, visit: www.conversationsmatter.com.au

If you or someone you know needs urgent support contact: Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467