From left: Maria Walters (volunteer), Kathy Molnar-Simpson (Manager), Alex Matute (Flowerdale participant), and in front is Mia Walters (Maria’s daughter).
NOTE! This article contains themes that may be distressing to some readers. As always, if you are struggling please speak to your Mental Health, Wellbeing or Peer Worker, your usual supports, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 any time, day or night.
by Grant J Everett
Like every year since 2003, Saturday the 10th of September was World Suicide Prevention Day. This is a time when organisations across the globe join together to help raise awareness about why people take their own lives, and what we can do to help prevent these tragedies from occurring. The theme for 2016 was Connect, Communicate, Care. These three words are at the very heart of suicide prevention, and they spell out how we can make a difference in the lives of people who may be struggling. For instance, you can CONNECT with friends, loved ones and workmates to make sure they aren’t isolated, COMMUNICATE by just seeing how they’re doing, and show that you CARE by asking them if there’s anything you can do to help.
On the subject of awareness, this year saw the local launch of an event that has come to Australia for the first time: the HopeWalk. Although this was its first instance in Australia, the HopeWalk has been an annual event in New Zealand for years. It has two defining features: it involves a long walk (as you may have guessed), and the participants all dress in yellow. Why yellow? this is becuase yellow is regarded as the most uplifting, illuminating and hopeful colour of the spectrum.
R U OK? Day (held each year on the 8th of September) is another event that raises public awareness about the importance of having conversations to make sure your friends and loved ones are doing alright. Just as importantly, R U OK? Day provides resources on how to have these chats.
The Sydney branch of the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) co-ordinated the event, but they certainly weren’t the only organisation there. For instance, one of Flourish Australia’s Day2Day Living Centres in Liverpool – Flowerdale Cottage – was there to represent us as shown in the picture. As a new event in this country, the HopeWalk had a pretty good turnout with a total of 192 people dressed in yellow all turning up to take part. Of course, having a few people walking about for a while isn’t big news on its own, but the overarching goal behind World Suicide Prevention Day is to start ripples across the planet, to inspire higher levels of participation in future events, and to have serious discussion on what we can do with every step that’s taken in the name of suicide prevention.
“We all need to learn how to cope with situations where someone is suffering,”
-CEO of Flourish Australia, Pam Rutledge
We hope that the next HopeWalk on the 10th of September 2017 will be even bigger and better than the first! On that note, YOU can certainly help the cause by telling your friends and co-workers about the HopeWalk, and especially by taking part. So spread the word!
Want to know more about the future events that the International Association for Suicide Prevention have planned? Go to the EVENTS page at www.iasp.info, or whip off an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes We R Not OK
Early intervention is something that we need to do more work on. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the suicide rate is increasing and nearly HALF of all the people they spoke to were “unsure” about how to recognise mental health issues in their loved ones (T Hamilton, October 4th 2016).
“Suicide rates hit 10-year high,” Tricia Hamilton, Fairfield Advance, October 4, 2016