Home' Aurora : Aurora June 2013 Contents Suicide prevention is
BY KATE MUNRO
packs and an annual remembering service.
Our service focuses on all three but is
cognisant of the difficulties faced by those
people who are bereaved by suicide. This
grief is terrible, overwhelming and unique
and they often find themselves isolated by
people's reactions, lack of empathy and
understanding. It is important that they
know help is available and the three local
support groups can provide a safe place
to be with people who truly understand
Being able to go out into our community
and provide opportunities for people to
explore this complex issue via training
programs such LivingWorks, half-day
safeTALK and the two-day Applied Suicide
Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), allows
for appropriate discussions to occur and
for people to learn a valuable life skill
in keeping someone with thoughts of
There is hope -- there is help.
Suicide prevention is everyone's business
and everyone has a role to play.
Information about our Comprehensive
Suicide Prevention Service and training
programs is available on our website,
P Lifeline 131114.
Aurora invited Kate Munro, Manager of
Suicide Prevention at Lifeline Newcastle &
Hunter, to share some of the insights she
has gained through her work. Recently
Kate implemented a pilot program at St
Pius X High School involving students,
teachers and parents.
Suicide is a tough, confronting subject
to talk about. It is sobering, serious and
Understanding when, how, why and who
should talk about suicide, is important.
While working for
& Hunter, managing
Service, one thing
has become clear
and that is the
value of listening to every individual's story
-- whether that is someone who is having
thoughts of suicide or those bereaved by
suicide. While I welcome all opportunities
to engage responsibly in a conversation
about suicide prevention, it is when I work
with individuals and families that I realise
suicide is everybody's business and as
a community we need to feel safe to talk
about this complex issue.
As a community, we need to recognise
that a person who is vulnerable to the
possibility of suicide does not have the
emotional resources and support to cope
with their challenges. Identifying and
assisting individuals who are vulnerable is
an important element of suicide prevention.
We need to be able to connect with
people thinking about suicide and those
bereaved by suicide, by providing support,
appropriate resources, care and listening.
Thoughts of suicide are complex and
personal. People who are suicidal have
unique lives, influences, disappointments,
reactions, hopes and dreams. They have
different stories to tell and we need to
be prepared to listen and provide the
Suicide is preventable -- this is a bold
statement but one that underpins the work
of our service. While thinking about suicide
may be difficult, preventing those thoughts
from moving to suicidal acts is achievable.
We believe that the vast majority of people
thinking about suicide want help to live,
but sadly, they are missed, dismissed or
avoided. I appreciate that as a community
we do not want to think that someone
we love, or work with, could possibly be
Sadly there are too many myths
surrounding the topic of suicide and these
are often the reasons why we miss, dismiss
or avoid the person with thoughts of
Myth: If they are
talking about it they
are just attention
Fact: Any talk of
suicide or suicide
attempts is a sign that
there is something wrong and the person
needs to be noticed and listened to. The
person needs to be acknowledged and the
thoughts or behaviour taken seriously.
Myth: Talking openly about suicide
increases the risk.
Fact: It is important not to treat suicide as
a taboo subject. Asking someone whether
they have been having thoughts of suicide
will not 'put the idea in their head'. Instead,
the person at risk may feel relieved when
the issue of suicide is raised in a caring
and non-judgemental manner. Raising
the issue sensitively and asking directly
about suicide gives the person permission
to speak about his or her distress, and
demonstrates that you care. This could
prevent further action towards suicide and
may increase the likelihood of the person
seeking further help.
Myth: Once a person decides to commit
suicide, there is nothing anyone can do
to stop them.
Fact: People who consider suicide are
experiencing intense emotional pain. Often,
they see suicide as their
only means to end
this pain. However,
with help and
move through the distress and suffering
they are experiencing without acting on the
thoughts of suicide, and see that there are
other options open to them. Suicidal crises
can be relatively short lived. If you know
someone who may be considering suicide,
you can play an important role in keeping
them safe and supporting them to get the
professional help they need.
Myth: People who think about or
attempt suicide are selfish or weak.
They're taking the easy way out.
Fact: People in the midst of a suicidal
crisis have temporarily had their own
internal resources stretched to the limit
and often cannot 'bounce back'. People
experiencing strong and overwhelming
negative feelings sometimes cannot see
a solution other than suicide but are often
desperately struggling for another way out
of their situation. They need personal and
professional support. Labelling someone
as selfish or weak can make it harder for
the person to reach out for help, and may
compound the shame and guilt they are
So what can we do to prevent suicide?
Our Comprehensive Suicide Prevention
Service has evolved over the last six years,
meeting the needs of our community. It
has three main areas of focus - Prevention,
Intervention and Postvention.
Prevention strategies educate the
community about suicide prevention -- the
aim being to ensure as many people as
possible are ready, willing and able to
intervene and save a life and also to be
more confident about discussing suicide
with family, friends and work colleagues.
Intervention strategies support those with
thoughts of suicide by offering personal
counselling and promotion of the 131114
crisis counselling telephone line.
Postvention strategies support
those bereaved by suicide
by providing support
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
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