As Australia’s culture becomes more and more aware of mental illness and the importance of connecting meaningfully, organisations like R U OK? are playing a huge part in keeping the focus on this important topic. This year R U OK? is calling on Australia to take a global lead in preventing suicide by making more effort to have regular, meaningful conversations with anyone who might be struggling.
When I was 16, my father committed suicide. I remember saying goodnight to him, he had tears in his eyes when he told me that he loved me, and I never saw him again.
Although I’m sure he believed his decision was the best thing to do for himself, I doubt that he ever realised the massive impact it would have on all of our lives. By committing suicide my life was forever changed. I was severely angry and depressed for so many years and only started to heal 12 years later, when I found love with The Big J. I had to live with the pain of knowing that my father would rather be dead, than alive with us. It has changed the nature of the emotional relationship that we had with our father.
But I knew something was wrong. He was struggling with the recent separation from my Mum, was drinking a lot, and getting into bar fights. Back then I didn’t know a lot about mental illness, and like many people, just shrugged it off thinking he’ll get over it. But maybe if we all had have taken a moment to ask him R U OK? he’d still be here today. I’m not saying that he would be, and I’m not laying guilt at anyone’s feet, because boy do I understand the oppressive weight of guilt when a loved one has committed suicide, but if we had taken time to check on his mental wellbeing, then maybe a life could have been saved.
If you are not aware of the once again climbing suicide rates in Australia, here are some statistics from Lifeline Australia:
- Deaths by suicide have reached a 10-year peak.
- In 2012, 1,901 males (16.8 per 100,000) and 634 females (5.6 per 100,000) died by suicide.
- This equates to almost seven deaths by suicide in Australia each day.
- Men account for three out of every five deaths by suicide, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for males.
- For those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, the suicide rate is 2.5 times higher for males and 3.4 times higher for females.
- The most recent data (ABS, Causes of Death, 2012) shows that almost twice as many people died from suicide in Australia, than in road related transport deaths (1,310 vs 2,535).
- 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.
One suicide attempt in Australia every 10 minutes. That is a scary thought.
So if you notice someone struggling, regardless of the relationship you have with them, take a few minutes to chat with them and ask R U OK? Not just today, but everyday.
If you are struggling with depression and don’t know who to turn to, then please seek help by contacting:
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 crisis support chat
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 (Online counselling)
- Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78 (Online counselling)
- Veterans Line: 1800 011 046
- Qlife: 1800 184 527
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (Visit the website for online counselling)
While it’s too late to save my father’s life, please if you do see someone struggling ask them R U OK?