beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman has called on Australians to mark World Suicide Prevention Day by reaching out to friends and family as new figures reveal there is huge demand for more support, information and advice to prevent suicide.
The theme this year is Suicide Prevention: One World Connected and reflects the importance that reaching out and forming connections can have in reducing suicide risk.
Ms Harman said that in the aftermath of Robin Williams’ death by suicide last month, contact with the beyondblue Support Service nearly doubled.
Ms Harman said there were about 2,200 phone conversations, web chats and email conversations with the Support Service in the 72 hours after his death was announced, up from 1,300 over the same period the week before and significantly higher than the long-term average.
“This means someone contacted beyondblue’s Support Service every two minutes for three straight days requesting support or information,” she said.
“During this time the information the community was looking for was the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety and suicide risk, and what to do if you’re worried about someone. This extraordinary demand highlights the need to continue educating people about illnesses such as depression and anxiety, which can lead to suicide, and shows that the community wants support people who may be going through a tough time.
“This is why beyondblue and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health recently released new resources featuring real-life stories to support people recovering from a suicide attempt and their loved ones.
“The resources, which can be downloaded at www.beyondblue.org.au/thewayback and are proudly funded with donations from The Movember Foundation, include frank accounts and practical advice from people who have attempted suicide and from their families and friends.
“If someone you know might be struggling, reaching out and connecting with them could make all the difference in their life. If you are struggling, you might be amazed at how much better you feel after you reach out for support and start taking the first steps to recovery. For more advice, contact the beyondblue Support Service, which is also funded with donations from The Movember Foundation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 22 4636. The Support Service can also be reached via web chat from 3pm to midnight every day at www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support or by sending an email via that address,” she added.
The most recent suicide data reveals suicide was the leading cause of death for Australian men and women aged under 45 in 2012.
The data also shows 2,535 Australians died by suicide in 2012, almost seven people every day. These figures are preliminary but are equivalent to 11.2 people per 100,000, with that figure set to rise and hit a decade high once it is reviewed and finalised.
For more information about World Suicide Prevention Day and to learn about events in your local area, please visit www.wspd.org.au