Talking About Suicide Does Not Make It Happen – View from a Doctor’s Desk – Dr Lisa Surman

Beyond Blue have released a media statement following the recent news of high profile suicides, encouraging anybody affected to reach out for support, talk to someone you trust, speak to your GP or a mental health professional or call beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636.  “Don’t stay silent if you are concerned about somebody. Ask how they are really feeling. Ask if they have been thinking about taking their own lives”.

“Mental health issues can affect anyone at any time: No one is immune,” said beyondblue Chair, The Hon Julia Gillard AC.

International recognition, excellence in your chosen career, respect from your peers and public admiration are no defence when it comes to developing a mental health condition.

Talking openly about depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions helps reduce stigma, tackles discrimination and encourages those at risk of self-harm and suicide to seek support. Eight Australians of all ages, ethnicity, religion, gender identity and socioeconomic circumstances die by suicide every day. Suicide prevention starts with recognising the warning signs and taking them seriously. Beyondblue also advises us about people who have thought about suicide have told them that the most important thing family, friends and colleagues can do is listen, show they care and offer support.

The signs beyondblue lists might include:

– expressing sense of hopelessness or no hope for the future

– isolation or feeling alone – ” No one understands me”

– aggressiveness and irritability – “leave me alone”

– possessing lethal means – medication, weapons

– negative view of self -“I’m worthless”

– drastic changes in mood and behaviour

– frequently talking about death – “If I dies would you miss me?”

– self-harming behaviours like cutting

– risk-taking behaviours – “I’ll try anything, I’m not afraid to die”

– getting affairs in order, such as making funeral arrangements

– giving away things, clothes, expensive gifts

– substance abuse

– feeling like a burden to others – “you’d be better off without me”

– talking about suicide – “sometimes I feel like I just want to die”

Visit beyondblue.org.au/get-support/have-the-conversation

Dr Lisa Surman, CBD West Medical Centre, Perth, WA

Member of Best Practice Software’s Clinical Leadership Advisory Committee

“Often patients spend time talking about current medical and social issues, taking valuable time away from dealing with what they have really come in to discuss. One of our solutions is to direct them to news articles on our website written by a doctor in our Practice that outline current issues and offer strategies to manage the problem and links to relevant, reputable websites”.