World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? 2020: Get involved in raising awareness

This World Suicide Prevention Day, Council is encouraging the community to stay connected by reaching out to someone who may be struggling to cope with everyday life, letting them know they are not alone.

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), recognised on 10 September, is a day devoted to raising awareness that suicide can be prevented.

This year, it coincides with Australia's R U OK? Day – a national day of action that encourages people to connect with someone and start an important conversation regarding mental health.

According to the Black Dog Institute, 1 in 5 Australians will experience symptoms of mental illness in any given year, with suicide the leading cause of death for people aged 25-44 and second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24.

Councillor Nora Lamont said that for community organisations and individuals dedicated to preventing suicide, both WSPD and R U OK? Day provided an opportunity to share messages of hope and action in the community.

"With one in five Australians experiencing a mental illness in any 12-month period and deaths by suicide still recording alarming numbers, there remains much to be done to reduce numbers of people experiencing mental health issues," Cr Lamont said.

"Beyond the statistics, suicide leaves profound emotional, social and economic impact for families, friends and communities. Increasing individual and community capacity and resilience, and supporting individuals and communities at risk to seek and receive help can reduce the number of people taking their lives," she said.

"Many people across our community have been touched by suicide as a result of mental illness, but it still remains something that we don't often discuss. The more we understand, the greater support we can offer to people bereaved by suicide, those concerned about a friend or family member or someone who may be at risk of suicide," she said.

"Genuine care and concern from friends and loved ones can be life-changing for those grappling with the impact of recent events, and listening with compassion, empathy and a lack of judgement can help to restore hope," Cr Lamont added.

Crisis support service Lifeline has seen a spike in calls originating from Victoria as the pressures of the second COVID-19 lockdown begin to take a toll on people's mental health.

Lifeline Australia Chairman John Brogden's message to Victorians is "please don't suffer in silence".

"Australians have already been turning to Lifeline in record numbers since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March. Each month since March we have been receiving almost 90,000 calls, that's a call every 30 seconds," Mr Brogden said.

"We are asking people to look out for those who may struggle through isolation, especially if they live on their own. If you can't knock on their door, be imaginative in how you can connect – give someone a call, write them an email, put a note under their door. By reaching out to someone who may be struggling and letting them know you care, you can send a really powerful message of hope," he said.

"We want people to know they can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 at any time of the day or night. If you can't call us, you can text us on 0477 13 11 14 between 6pm and midnight every night," Mr Brogden said.

Lifeline Virtual Garden

This year, Lifeline plans to send a powerful message to those struggling during the pandemic, inviting them to visit a virtual garden and plant a message of hope.

"This year, we are calling on every Australian to make this garden bloom and help Lifeline send the clearest message yet to those who are struggling that they are not alone," Mr Brogden said.

Visit the virtual garden

Join 'Out of the Shadows' virtual walk

Since 2012, Lifeline has been taking part in World Suicide Prevention Day by hosting 'Out of the Shadows' walks; bringing communities together to raise awareness, remember those lost to suicide and unite in a commitment to prevent further deaths by suicide.

With physical distancing restrictions created by COVID-19, Out of the Shadows will be providing opportunities for connection virtually.

The Maroondah community is invited to send a message of hope and help by committing to walk 3,046 steps. That's one step for every person lost to suicide in Australia in 2018 (latest data from Australian Bureau of Statistics).

People are also invited to safely hold private reflective sunrise walks observed in accordance with COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions.

Walk with others virtually this World Suicide Prevention Day.

You can also help spread awareness about mental health using social media hashtags #ruokday #WorldSuicidePreventionDay and #WSPD2020

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