Suicide touches our lives in so many different ways. Many people find having a sense of community helps them feel safe, supported and understood. Community members and organisations play a huge role in understanding the behaviours of local people and how to support each other in tough times.
Everyone can play a part in preventing suicide in their community. Some of the ways you can do this include:
Suicide is a complex issue. Myths and misinformation can increase the stigma, shame and guilt experienced by people who are thinking about or have attempted to take their own life. In addition, it is not always easy to understand what compels a person to take their own life, especially for those who have never experienced such overwhelming and negative feelings.
Educate yourself on support services in your area or national crisis support so that you have information on hand if you ever need it. There are a range of crisis support lines that are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Australia. Several of these offer video counselling or text chat as well as conversations over the phone.
While it is important to encourage people to talk more openly about suicide, it is also important to ensure discussions are helpful, based on accurate information (not rumours) and will lead to people feeling more empowered rather than ashamed or embarrassed. Having a conversation with someone about their suicidal thoughts does not increase suicidal behaviour.
In group settings (e.g. community meetings, schools or workplaces) conversations should be planned and reactions to the conversations carefully observed to make sure people understand the information and are not feeling more distressed by what is discussed. Download a factsheet on group discussions about suicide.
You may also find it useful to read the Mindframe guidelines for communicating about suicide safely.
If you are from one of the two communities we have focused on in this project, specific information about local suicide prevention activities is available for the Northern Beaches Sydney NSW and the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region in Queensland.
“The effect that suicide can have, it's not just yourself, but it affects your immediate family, your friends group, your community, also emergency services. It's like a ripple effect.”
Find support services
If you or someone you know feels unsafe, there are a number of local and national services that can help you.