Last quarter we acknowledged two very important days and causes at Youth Opportunities: RUOK Day and World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44 years, and rates of young Australians dying by suicide continues to increase.
We spoke with Training Services Lead and Mental Health First Aid trainer, Hannah, about the statistics and what we can do as a society to combat rising mental health concerns.
Q: What do you believe to be the greatest cause of increasing numbers of suicide?
A: There is no one definitive cause. I think it’s a combination of many factors. Some research points to lack of community connections, shifts in society (such as higher unemployment rates), discrimination and trauma.
Q: What concerns do young people have, especially in current circumstances?
A: The young people I speak with, generally talk about not feeling hope for the future; whether this is due to discrimination they’ve faced, lack of action on climate change, lack of access to effective mental health treatment or feeling stuck in negative circumstances. A lot of young people want to know where they can access support, or how they can help a friend who is struggling.
Q: What is your most valued piece of advice that we can all use to start to tackle this issue within our community?
A: Build connection. Don’t be afraid to ask young people how they are, and really listen. Sometimes we get caught up thinking that we’re not experts so we can’t do anything, but this just isn’t the case. You can be an effective support just by being empathetic and caring – something we’re all capable of. And if someone is suicidal or really struggling, you can support by staying with them and helping them connect to an appropriate professional like a GP. Early intervention is so important, and sharing stories of hope and recovery is also really beneficial to break the stigma – how we talk about mental health matters! But it’s not all about the individual. As a society I think we can also help reduce suicidality by tackling systemic issues such as affordable housing, reducing discrimination and increasing access to effective mental health services. At Youth Opportunities, we strive to ensure young South Australians have the supports they need to live a life of purpose, connection and wellbeing.