Stopping the slide a life at a time

The stigma from suicide will probably never fully go away, so painful are its complex causes and legacy, but a decade or so of increased awareness are at least focussing more now on the prevention than any labels once easy to sum it up with.  

Perhaps one of the greatest steps in this slow evolution of public perception was the attempts to decriminalise what was, and is, essentially a health problem.  

We now know how severe a health problem we have to deal with.

Some hard facts from beyondblue that make for sobering reading; eight people die by suicide every day in Australia, more than 240 people attempt suicide each day across the country and the leading cause of death for those aged between 15 and 44.

One could could look only at the stories that make the headlines across the country to glimpse the complexity of the issues involved.

But whether they gain media attention or not, each carries the enduring consequences of a singular catastrophic act, each one becomes an indescribable tragedy for those personally involved.

This made for grim recollection on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, but all the more reason to give it the added spotlight that demands new ways to end the cycle.

One of the most needed of these is the need for follow up support for those who having attempted suicide and are at risk of repeat behaviour. Troubling when half of all people who attempt suicide do not participate in follow up support and treatment.

But one suicide prevention program run by beyondblue, that supports people following a suicide attempt, claims an engagement rate of more than 70 per cent while the actual suicide rates among participants are below 1per cent, evidence that the right steps can halt the slide before it becomes too steep.

The trials of The Way Back, held in numerous regional locations,  will roll out through the primary health networks and target the first vulnerable three months through post hospital, community and family support.

It will be costly, it won’t be perfect but it won’t be hidden and it will be about prevention; costing far less than the dire consequence. 

For 24/7 crisis support or suicide prevention services call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636. If a life is in danger, call 000.