R U OK? Start a conversation to save lives

Take a minute, change a life.

This was the theme of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, and it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling by offering a gentle word of support… or just listening non-judgmentally.

The day saw the hard working volunteers of the Bega Valley Suicide Prevention Action Network visit the markets at Pambula to hand out valuable information, and help raise awareness around the issue.

According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the organisation organising the day, over 800,000 people globally tragically die by suicide.

Yet, the number of people who have been forever impacted by a friend or loved one’s depression or suicide is far higher than statistics can show.

With the sad news of the death of Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington, the issue received global media attention, and all of a sudden openly discussing feelings of depression and anxiety became okay overnight for millions of people.

Discussing individual experiences in overcoming suicidal thinking, taking talk of these feelings seriously, and providing information on where to find support are important parts of these discussions.

Former NRL player and professional boxer, turned mental health advocate and Wiradjuri man Joe Williams visited the region recently for workshops stemming from his own personal struggles, including a suicide attempt in 2012.

Many local initiatives are being triggered to open the discourse and let dialogue flow.

On Thursday, Pambula Beach’s Lumen Christi Catholic College is hosting a Community Mental Health Forum at Club Sapphire in Merimbula, with adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. 

This weekend, the Vibes in the Valley music festival in Eden will no doubt be the start of something positive for the whole community to share.

The issue of suicide is a health and community issue, and the impact it has had on our community is immense.

However, the response by this community and the conversations being started is heartwarming.

In any circumstance, communities have an important role to play in supporting the vulnerable.

Lifeline 131 114

beyondblue 1300 224 636

Kids Help Line 1800 551 800