The festive season is a time for celebration, for family and for togetherness. But for some, the festive season can be a painful reminder that they are alone, their loneliness accentuated by everyone else’s celebrations and togetherness.
In 2012, over 2500 Australians died by suicide, the highest number in Australia’s history. This equates to roughly 7 people per day, which is double that of the road toll.
The festive season is a high risk time for those who are considering suicide. For weeks leading up to Christmas, people are preparing, planning and buying presents, and the whole community seems to be in the festive spirit. There’s also a greater emphasis on togetherness in general, whether it be in the home, family or community. For someone who is suffering from a mental illness or feeling alone, these feelings can be magnified at this time.
Here’s what you can do to help keep those around you safe and happy.
MAKE PEOPLE FEEL INCLUDED….
Social inclusion is a major factor in suicide prevention, with significant research showing that those who feel connected to even just one other person, are less likely to attempt suicide.
A recent survey found that one third of people living in Adelaide feel lonely. That is a really significant number and shows that there is much more we could all be doing to make people feel included.
Be aware of people in your vicinity, whether they are family, friends, workmates, community members or people in the street, and look for ways that you can connect with them. You never know who might be struggling or when your small attempt at connection can literally save a life.
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS….
Connection is important, but it doesn’t take a grand gesture to make someone feel included. It might be as simple as having a conversation, giving someone a Christmas card, or enjoying a cup of coffee or tea together. You could also find out about events happening in your neighbourhood over the festive season and suggest these to those who may be feeling lonely or isolated.
These simple gestures not only help others to feel connected, but the act of connecting itself is good for you too.
Educate yourself about mental health issues and know what to look for. Having the right knowledge helps to dispel myths and share the facts. Training like the Mental Health First Aid course is a great way to gain a thorough understanding of mental health issues, and can prepare you for assisting someone in a mental health crisis.
KNOW WHAT TO DO….
If you are really worried about that someone you know is suicidal, there are three things to remember:
- Don’t leave the person alone
- Ensure safety, both yours and theirs
- Link with professional help, whether it be an ambulance, doctor or psychologist
Mental Health First Aid teaches you that, just like in general health first aid, you are not expected to be the expert, but you can play a vital role in assisting someone experiencing a mental health crisis to get the help they need.
SUICIDE IS PREVENTABLE….
Research shows that a high percentage of people signal their intent to suicide. That means that if we are all better educated about some of the signs that show a person may be contemplating suicide, as well as what we can do to prevent it, we can pick up on those signs, connect and potentially help to save a life.
“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” – Simone Veil