SIX Australians die from suicide everyday, twice as many young people die from suicide than from road accidents and of those 90 per cent suffered from mental illness at the time of death.
As shocking as these statistics are action is taking place with campaigns like World Suicide Prevention Week (September 9-15) promoting the importance of knowing signs of depression and how to minimise risks of suicide.
The Compassionate Friends volunteer Pam Bolwerk lost her son Nic to suicide 12 years ago and said “there is no stereotype in suicide” so people need to be aware it could happen to anyone.
“Nic had everything going for him,” she said.
But Mrs Bolwerk said he went through a rough patch after dealing with a “broken relationship”.
She said he was emotional and recalled telling him “I know you’re depressed” and Nic’s response was “I’m not depressed, I’m just a sook”.
With psychotherapy experience Mrs Bolwerk said she knew she was too close to her 22-year-old son to talk about it with him further so she left pamphlets on his bed.
“I knew he struggled,” she said.
“No matter how old your children are you want to protect them.”
Working with bereaved parents and families who have lost a loved one to suicide, Mrs Bolswerk said she tells them “you did everything you could” and knows she did the same but at the time she blamed herself.
“It’s natural – as a mother you blame yourself,” she said.
“But it was his choice, no one else’s.”
Mrs Bolwerk said there was no prevention for suicide but to help reduce the numbers “a lot more money should be thrown at mental health”.
Arafmi family support councillor and officer Josephine Enoch agreed with Mrs Bolwerk that there was “no way to prevent a determined person dying from suicide”.
But she said there are ways to reduce risk factors by promoting awareness and putting in place strategies with the support group of the at risk person.
Ms Enoch said there were early warning signs or characteristics in a person likely to die from suicide.
These can be withdrawing from those close to them, diagnosed mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems, giving away treasured possessions, self harm or even talking about suicide.
Ms Enoch said the best way and to get the best advice if a person notices a loved one’s behaviour change was to speak with a professional who could give them the right knowledge to support that person.
For information on suicide prevention or to get help go to suicideprevention.com.au or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.