How do we tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness in a region with a small population who at times have kilometres between them and their neighbours?
Whether we wish to believe it or not, we live in a nation where the suicide rate for 15 to 24-year-olds is at its highest rate in 10 years, a third of all deaths of young men are due to suicide, suicide is the leading cause of death among all people 15 to 44-years-old, and one-quarter of women aged 16 to 17-years-old have self-harmed.
For Indigenous Australians, the incident rates are among the highest in the world.
The highest in the world.
Earlier this month, Gayili Yunupingu from the Gunyangara community at Galupa in Nhulunbuy received a human rights award for her work in reducing the rate of suicide in her community from the worst on the planet to zero.
Since 2008 she has been voluntarily on call, 24 hours a day, responding to calls for help.
Her methods are an inspiration to us all, allowing people to sit together, share experiences and tell stories, feel pain and share what is going on in their community.
In essence the community was able to learn what it feels like to share.
In the Bega Valley we have organisations like SPAN – the Bega Valley Suicide Prevention Action Network – doing their best to voluntarily distribute education packs and crisis contact details throughout the community.
Grand Pacific Health is also contributing by educating and training Eden's business community so anyone, anywhere can potentially be a readily available point of contact for people experiencing a mental health crisis.
We need to see this expand right across the Valley. We need everyone to play a role in helping our community reduce our suicide rate to zero. Nothing more than zero is acceptable.
No more should we have to wake to the news another young school child has taken their own life, that a man or woman has decided that there is no other way.
There is always another way, always someone who will listen to you, support you, help you in your times of greatest need.
We constantly see how wonderful this community is in times of a crisis like fires and floods. Can we make sure we are that same generous, loving, supportive community with mental health as well?
If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, free confidential help is available at any time:
- Lifeline 131 114
- MensLine 1300 789 978
- Beyondblue 1300 224 636
- Kids Help Line 1800 551 800