Walk raises awareness for suicide stigma

 

AS the sun rose, locals gathered to Cotton Tree Park today in a bid to raise awareness for suicide and remove the surrounding stigma.

Lifeline’s Out Of The Shadows And Into The Light Walk follows R U OK Day and World Suicide Prevention Day.

Lifeline volunteer Lee Baker marshaled the walk and said the importance of events like this could not be underestimated.

“I just think it’s so important to have these events happen to get it out there and say it’s okay to talk about it,” he said.

“There are lots of people out there who they just need to talk about it, and that’s not just the people who are in that situation, but the people around them as well.”

One of those people was Mr Baker’s father, who attempted suicide multiple times in his 80s while suffering from dementia.

“He had no other options other than being in a vegetative state until he died of natural causes,” he said.

“He attempted suicide on a number of occasions simply because he was out of options.”

But Mr Baker’s father is not a rarity in Australia.

In 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that the peak age group for suicide was men aged 85 and over.

According to those ABS statistics, approximately 75 per cent of people who died by suicide were males, while only 25 per cent were females.

It’s an alarming ratio, but one which doesn’t surprise service coordinator for the Maroochydore Lifeline Crisis Support Service Susan Griffiths.

“I think men, generally speaking, are less likely to talk about struggles they’re having because of the stigma attached to showing some weaknesses,” she said.

“I think women generally have a more engaged relationship with friends and are likely to tell them their problems than men.

“So I think it is very important that we’re vigilant about observing men and maybe changes in their behaviours to help us recognise that they might be needing support.”

ABS statistics show on average there are seven deaths by suicide each day in Australia.

Mrs Griffiths said with an increase in population there has also been an increase in suicides and Lifeline has been doing what they can to help.

“Because of the increase in population every year Lifeline have an increased number of calls to our service,” she said.

“We’re taking at the moment just over a million calls per year, but all the calls are not about suicide.

“Probably about 25 per cent of our calls are from people who have suicidal thoughts.

“But for us, if somebody calls, there’s hope.”

Mrs Griffiths said Lifeline’s Out Of The Shadows walk would return to Maroochydore next year because it particularly helped those who have lost someone to suicide.

“They felt that by coming here it allowed and gave them permission to talk with other people about their pain and their loss,” she said.

Anyone needing support should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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