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Australia’s secret

Photo by Sanja Gjenero
SUICIDE IS an abrasive word.

I don’t even like writing it, let alone saying it.

In 2009, we lost 1633 men and 499 women to suicide.

That’s 2132 people with mums, dads, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters and children.

In the same year, 1507 people lost their lives in road crashes.

I don’t wish to detract from the tragic loss of life on our roads, and the communities this affects.

But I do wish to point out that, despite the number of people dying by suicide being higher Australia’s secret than our road toll, responsible discussion about the issue by the media, and in our own communities, is muted.

This is partly what led South Australia’s Moderator, Rev Rob Williams, and myself to create an awareness campaign called
Suicide: It’s no secret.

“I want to do something tangible to promote responsible and healthy media and community discussion about suicide so that people can be offered support, grieve – and find hope – together,” said Mr Williams.

Silence and shame are not the answer: we want to help open the discussion and the normalising of depression and mental ill health so that lives can be saved.

Growing up in a rural area, I have been particularly keen to see open discussion about suicide be able to flourish in our rural areas.

I fundamentally believe discussion is the starter for true change and the actual saving of lives.

As a church, we have a central role in many of our communities, especially rural communities.

We care for those who are hurting and bury those who die.

Many of our ministers can testify to the incredible sadness of walking alongside another precious life lost to intentional self-harm.

Rev Rob Stoner is one minister who sees the desperation that can set a course of anxiety, depression and, sadly, suicide.

“The rural downturn (drought and now various circumstances affecting fruit growers beyond our control in the Riverland)has meant for many people whose crops fail, they feel the failure personally,” he said.

“Suicide prevention begins by recognising the social needs of the farmers, the bad times they are experiencing and how that leads into depression.”

The campaign began on 28 August at Scots Church, Adelaide, with spokespeople addressing the media, followed by a Service of Remembrance.

The following six week period after the launch will see approximately a dozen services held throughout South Australia in rural areas.

For more information or resources to run similar services visit nosecret.org.au

Photo : Photo by Sanja Gjenero