Lifeline Macarthur urges locals to seek support when needed as suicide cases rise

Here to help: One of Lifeline's crisis support volunteers with Lifeline Macarthur chief executive Brad Hannagan.
Here to help: One of Lifeline's crisis support volunteers with Lifeline Macarthur chief executive Brad Hannagan.

Recent data has revealed that deaths by suicide increased by six per cent in Australia last year.

The 2019 Australian Bureau Statistics (ABS) information has left many mental health organisations calling for additional funding support in the sector, including Lifeline Macarthur.

Lifeline Macarthur chief executive Brad Hannagan said the data should be a call to action for not just the government, but for the whole community.

"The 3318 lives lost in 2019 calls for an urgent whole of community and government approach to expedite an Australia free of suicide plan," he said.

"Suicide is complex, and there is no one reason that causes a person to decide to take their own life.

"We can't stress enough how important it is that we look out for each other, to continue to find ways to connect, to reach out if you think someone is struggling.

"Please call Lifeline at any time on 13 11 14, we're here for you."

The Lifeline Crisis Support Line has experienced a surge in calls over the past year - setting a record number of calls in the Macarthur region.

"In the last financial year we received over 80,000 calls," Mr Hannagan said.

"It is a record number of calls in a 12 month period in the history of Lifeline Macarthur and western Sydney - that's a call every 30 seconds.

"Navigating the effects of catastrophic natural disasters and a global pandemic has not only impacted Australia's economy, but overall welfare and in particular our mental health.

"Australians are reaching out to Lifeline more than ever for support."

The ABS data also revealed that more men committed suicide in 2019 than women.

Mr Hannagan said while females were more likely to attempt suicide, 75 per cent of deaths by suicide are male.

"Lifeline actively works to encourage both help-seeking and help-giving behaviours," he said.

"Research shows that if we can empower community members to recognise the signs that someone is struggling and respond and refer appropriately, we will save lives."

Lifeline has also identified five priority areas to reduce suicide:

  • The creation of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention and Crisis Support line that is governed and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Increasing the capacity for peer support groups facilitated by clinicians for survivors of suicide
  • Increased suicide prevention training within the community
  • Support services for those at-risk of suicide post discharge
  • Appropriate facilities and responses for people experiencing suicidal behaviour
  • and presenting to Emergency Departments.

"Urgent funding is needed for us to continue to support Australians, which have been turning to Lifeline in record numbers since we commenced 57 years ago," Mr Hannagan said.

"It is important that we look out for each other. If you see behaviour change, if you think someone is struggling, if you know someone is experiencing difficulties, let them know you care.

"Make that connection, ask them how they're doing and if they aren't ok, get them to help or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

"Never underestimate the power you have to make a positive difference in the lives of another person."

To donate to Lifeline Macarthur, visit: lifelinemacarthur.org.au.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a personal crisis, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services:

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
  • or the NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
  • Online crisis support chat is also available from 7pm to midnight (AEST) seven days a week at:www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.
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