Today R U OK? launches STRONGER TOGETHER, a targeted suicide prevention campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING MORE FREQUENTLY IN THIS PART OF OUR COMMUNITY?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released alarming data reporting a standardized date rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being 23.8 deaths in every 100,000 persons more than double in comparison to non-Indigenous persons (11.4 deaths in every 100,00).
THE MEDIAN AGE OF THOSE WHO SELF HARMED IS 29 YEARS OF AGE:
The occurrence of self harm was two and four times higher for this group within our community and the leading cause of death for those aged 15-34 years of age.
SUICIDE ACCOUNTED FOR OVER A THIRD OF DEATHS AMONG PEOPLE AGED 15 TO 24 YEARS OF AGE AND MORE THAN 25% OF DETHS in 25-34 YEAR OLDS.
SPOTTING THE PROBLEM:
The root cause for depression isn’t always as obvious as unemployment, bereavement, health ailments, financial or personal relationship breakdowns. Look for sudden changes in behaviour or routines say the experts at R U OK?
“When somebody stops answering and returning calls, for example. Maybe they stop coming to footy training, or other places where you would usually see them. Maybe they seem stressed, they might get angry or upset easily and start talking less. Maybe their eating, drinking and exercising habits change. You might also notice changes in people’s weight or how healthy they look. You might just have a gut feeling that something’s not quite right.”
CHECKING IN ON ONE OF YOUR MATES DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A CONVERSATION ABOUT DOOM AND GLOOM AND DOESN’T HAVE TO BE AWKWARD.
R U OK?s campaign encourages individuals to engage and offer support to their family and friends who are struggling with life. Positive and culturally appropriate resources have been developed to help individuals feel more confident in starting conversations and asking R U OK?
It doesn’t have to be awkward. A light hearted conversation opening your space to someone and genuinely making a connection has massive impact. It’s not about asking someone if they might be having suicidal thoughts, but reminding those around you they have a support network and someone has their back.
The majority of people who die by suicide deny having suicidal thoughts when asked by doctors in the weeks and months leading up to their death, a ground-breaking UNSW Sydney study has found. The meta-analysis, co-authored by clinical psychiatrist and Conjoint Professor Matthew Large from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry, published in the BJPsych Open journal reviewed data from 70 major studies on suicidal ideation. 60% of people who died by self inflictive actions denied having suicidal thoughts.
“We know that suicide ideas are pretty common and that suicide is actually a rare event, even among people with severe mental illness,” said Professor Large, an international expert on suicide risk assessment who also works in the emergency department of a major Sydney hospital. “But what we didn’t know was how frequently people who go on to suicide have denied having suicidal thoughts when asked directly,” he said. “Doctors sometimes rely on what is known as suicidal ideation – being preoccupied with thoughts and planning suicide – as a crucial test for short-term suicide risk, and it has been argued it could form part of a screening test for suicide,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Catherine McHugh, a registrar psychiatrist. “Our results show that this is not in the best interests of patients.
Stronger Together Conversation Guide
BUILDING CAPACITY IN COMMUNITY TO CONNECT
Dr Vanessa Lee BTD, MPH, PhD has chaired R U OK?’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group whose counsel has been integral in the development of the campaign.
“Through this campaign, I hope you’ll feel inspired and motivated to have a yarn with each other, spend time with each other and remember where we came from. As the First Peoples of this country, it’s time to remember our strengths because we have survived.” she says, “Let’s support each other to build capacity in community to connect with each through conversation. Use [the new resources created by R U OK?|and others to become your own change agents. Let’s be the ancestors our ancestors were to us.