What our Panel said about suicide prevention... October 2018

This month, COORDINARE sought to understand how the lives of people in South Eastern NSW may have been touched by suicide.

More than 45% of our Consumer Health Panel participants have not supported anyone who was suicidal or been close to someone who died by suicide.

However, more than 30% of people indicated that they have supported someone who was suicidal.

Almost 12% of people have been close to someone who died by suicide, and more than 8% of people have both supported someone who was suicidal and been close to someone who died by suicide.

While almost half of survey participants (47%) said that they have not experienced suicidal thoughts or engaged in suicidal behaviours themselves, close to 36% of people have experienced suicidal thoughts. Almost 7% of people have both experienced suicidal thoughts and engaged in suicidal behaviours.

When we asked people about the ‘warning signs’ that would prompt people to seek help for themselves, they noted:

  • feeling overwhelming sadness (74%)
  • feeling disconnected from others or lonely (61%)
  • increased anger or irritation (32%).

When we asked people about the ‘warning signs’ that would prompt people to be concerned about someone else, they responded:

  • feeling disconnected from others or lonely (63%)
  • feeling overwhelming sadness (51%)
  • loss of interest in personal appearance and hygiene (46%).

When we asked the Panel to rate how confident they would feel in helping someone at risk of suicide, the average score between 1 and 10 was 5.3 (with 1 being least confident and 10 being most confident).

Just over 17% of people rated their confidence level at 8, which is good to see. However, 31% of people rated their confidence level at 4 or 5, suggesting that suicide prevention training would be helpful.

The top two most common reasons our survey participants would hesitate in helping someone who is suicidal included:

  • not sure if my ‘gut instinct’ is right (36%)
  • don’t know them well enough (32%).

Of those people who selected ‘Other’, some of the comments and concerns were around:

  • fear of not being able to do enough to help
  • worry about leaving a loved one home alone
  • that there is no single strategy or solution for everyone
  • open dialogue, non-judgemental listening and empathy as key helpful strategies.

 

Graph

 Above: We asked the Panel why they might hesitate in helping someone who is suicidal.

 

Half of our survey participants (53%) said they would feel comfortable talking to their doctor if they were having suicidal thoughts but it was not common for doctors to ask the question directly, with more than 70% of people noting they had not been asked.

Thank you to all of our Consumer Health Panel participants for sharing your views on suicide prevention.

There were some important insights shared about further actions in the comments section, which we have summarised below: 

  • we need to destigmatise people who have attempted suicide: “don’t treat them as a sick person”
  • parents should normalise conversations about emotions with their children
  • increase funding for counselling and anti-bulling programs in schools
  • better supports needed for older people in rural areas who are socially isolated (e.g. Men’s Sheds)
  • introduce mental health first aid training in workplaces
  • better integration between crisis support services, general practice, police etc.

It is also really encouraging to see that almost half of our Panel (45%) are interested in undertaking the Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training – a one-hour online course to help you recognise the warning signs for suicide.

Thank you for caring. If you would like to access a FREE QPR licence, go to https://transactions.sendowl.com/products/77908557/83A37EF9/purchase

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If you or someone you care about is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please contact:

Lifeline – 13 11 14

beyondblue – 1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

 

For additional mental health support, please contact:

MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78 (24/7 telephone and online support, information and referral service for men.)

QLife – 1800 184 527 (Telephone and online chat support service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex people, 3pm – 12am daily.)

Eheadspace – 1800 650 890  (Telephone and online counselling for young people aged 12 – 25 and their families, 9am – 1am daily.)