ECHUCA-MOAMA residents are being encouraged to talk openly about suicide to help reduce its stigma.
Although the number of Australians dying by suicide has dropped, those living in country areas are taking their lives at twice the rate recorded in capital cities.
Last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its 2016 Causes of Death data which revealed the number of Australians dying by suicide had decreased from 3027 in 2015 to 2866 in 2016.
However, SANE Australia chief executive Jack Heath said the number of deaths by suicide was unacceptable.
‘‘Mental health and suicide prevention needed sectors to work together to ensure easy access to services and support,’’ he said.
‘‘We also need to be looking at increasing expenditure for those living in rural and regional Australia where suicide rates have been twice as high than in capital cities, yet the expenditure in services per head is half as much.’’
In Campaspe Shire between 2010-14, 14 residents died by suicide, according to Australia’s Health Tracker.
Echuca clinical psychologist Cara Tucker said suicide was an epidemic.
‘‘We can only hope that the statistics keep going down because suicide is still a disease and continues to be an epidemic,’’ she said.
‘‘In fact the numbers exist and why we still have the numbers at all is the reason I am still in the chair mentoring people into more adaptive and coping thought processes.
‘‘I can only do my part and hope others do the same to include the person who is reading this who may be suicidal to tell your GP.’’
Dr Tucker said motivational behaviours to get people to see their GP for a check-up were a good start.
‘‘An example of a conversation would be, ‘I am having a hard time seeing you like this, I want you to see the GP and if you don’t then we need to do more about this’,’’ she said.
‘‘Suggest going in with the person and just book the appointment and letting bosses and others know this person needs the help whether they want it or not.
‘‘Let it be a choice but if the person is not thinking clearly, then think logically for that person.
‘‘If we think of thoughts as another way of coping then there is hope that suicidal thoughts can be talked about and to really understand how the thoughts have become maladaptive and sometimes adaptive for some as a way to cope with pain or distress.
‘‘So when you know these thoughts are not feeling okay, please talk to someone who is professional enough to handle such thoughts. Remember thoughts do not have to become fact in the case of suicide.
‘‘Suicide leaves a legacy of questions, guilt, sadness, anger, betrayal and even a 50 per cent chance of another person who models the suicidal individual to end their life too by coping with suicide too.’’
■If you need support, contact Lifeline on 131114, or Suicide Call Back Service 1300659467.
For information and practical tips on how to talk about suicide, visit www.conversationsmatter.com.au