It seems more common today, to find someone who has personally been affected by suicide, depression or mental illness or know someone who has. If this is the case, the outdated and old-fashioned stigma should be irrelevant right? After all, out of this growing familiarity among us comes an understanding that suicide ideation, depression or mental illness does not discriminate, meaning if you are human, you too are at risk.
I believe more people than ever before understand what was believed to be a struggle for a minority of the population is actually a potential challenge for everyone and yet here we are, on World Suicide Prevention Day, witnessing a very real stigma serving to prop up the barrier between needing and asking for help.
Feelings of shame, fear and rejection flash in front of a suicide victims eyes when they see the word help. There is no mistake about it; this connection leads to loss of life.
I have come to the realisation that I am guilty of not contributing to correct this stigma as I harbour fear about the whole situation. Fear that I can’t identify, fear that I will say the wrong thing, fear that I will miss the signs until it’s too late and fear that little ol’ me won’t have what it takes to save a life.
If someone newly diagnosed with cancer were told to write their own treatment plan, we would be up in alms about the absurdity. If a diabetic patient could only rely on the internet for education about the role of insulin we would be shocked. Suicide victims are in a vulnerable state and yet we sit and wait to be asked for help?
By not becoming versed about suicide and knowledgeable about its origins or even practiced in being prepared to offer help then what are we really saying? Are we saying we expect suicide victims to overcome the stigma alone? Are we asking them to figure out their own treatment plan? If so, is it any wonder suicide remains the number one cause of death for men under the age of 45 and under the age of 35 for women in Australia? (AIHW)
The treatment and prevention of suicide lies in the words spoken by you and me. We are the miracle treatment, the latest drug, and collectively we can break the barrier between needing help and asking for help.
So, to correct my own contribution to the stigma attached to suicide by way of ignorance, I have enrolled in an online course and I implore others to do the same or similar if not already.
Understanding and awareness are a step in the right direction, however if you really want to do something then accept that our words and actions are the miracle treatment.
For those of you, who are way ahead of me and can offer some suggestions towards taking charge over this stigma, please comment below and for those who like me, would like to get started, feel free to use the links provided.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010) Australia’s Health 2010. The 12th Biennial health Report of the AIHW.
List of training options in Australia – http://www.livingisforeveryone.com.au/Training.html
List of training options for community based education worldwide – http://training.sprc.org
A summary about preventing suicide and links for those seeking help as well as links for training options in Australia –http://www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/Facts—Information/Preventing-Suicide/Preventing-Suicide#Cor_article_5