Monthly News: September 2019

R U OK? Day: Thur 12th September

RU OK? Day is a national suicide prevention initiative developed in 2009 that encourages us to take action and ask ‘R U OK?’ to anyone who might be struggling in their own lives. This year, RU OK? day is on Thursday 12th September 2019.

Suicide is a major cause of death in Australia. Every year, over 2,500 Australians die by suicide and it is estimated that over 65,000 Australians attempt suicide. Despite this, many of us feeling unable to talk about it or unable to identify the signs in others. There is still a huge taboo around suicide and a lack of understanding about its causes, triggers and how to help.

Although the cause of suicide is incredibly complex to pinpoint, there are warning signs that people will often display before attempting suicide. RU OK? Day teaches us how to safely identify and manage these warning signs and make a difference. 

JOIN OUR WEBINARS ON R U OK? DAY

To celebrate R U OK? Day, the Acacia EAP team are running free webinars. Join our experts for this informative session to learn more about having these sensitive conversations and the importance of asking R U OK? within the workplace.

SESSION TIMES:
SESSION 1: 10AM 12/9/19 – Click Here to Register
SESSION 2: 2PM 12/9/19 – Click Here to Register
(Australian Eastern Standard Time)

Everyone is welcome to join!

What is Suicide?

What is Suicide? 

Definition of Suicide: The intentional taking of a person’s own life.

Suicidal behaviour often starts with thoughts of suicide which develop in intensity if the contributing factors are not addressed. This may lead to making plans to commit suicide, suicide attempts and sadly, suicide itself. 

Statistics show that over 2.1 million Australians had suicidal thoughts at some point in their life, with over 600,000 making a suicide plan and over 500,000 attempting suicide. There are often one or more warning signs that someone is considering suicide that can help prevent suicidal behaviour leading to suicide attempts and suicide. 

The Alarming Australian Statistics

  • In 2015, 3,027 Australians died by suicide. This equates to more than eight deaths by suicide in Australia each day.
  • For every death by suicide, it is estimated that around 30 people attempt to end their lives
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-44 years of age
  • Women are more likely to be suicidal than men, with higher rates of suicidal thoughts, suicide plans, and suicide attempts.
  • However, men are 3 to 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women. This can often be attributed to men using more violent means when attempting suicide.
  • The rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander is found to be double that of non-indigenous Australians.
  • The rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander is found to be double that of non-indigenous Australians.
  • It is generally estimated that suicide statistics are 20-30% lower than the actual number of suicides in Australia due to unconfirmed causes of death and lack of reporting.

The Warning Signs

You may hear someone who is feeling suicidal say things which suggest that they:

  • See themselves as a burden. E.g. “people would be better off without me”
  • They can’t see a way out of their situation E.g. “I need this all to stop”, “I can’t do this anymore”
  • Are feeling a sense of hopelessness. E.g. “There’s no point in trying”, “things will never get better”
  • Are feeling a sense of hopelessness. E.g. “There’s no point in trying”, “things will never get better”

Warning signs may include:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Sleeping or eating changes
  • Loss of interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • Irritability, mood swings or becoming easily upset
  • Decreased academic and/or work performance
  • Self-harming behaviours (e.g. cutting)
  • Risky behaviour (e.g. excessive alcohol or drug use)
  • Mentioning suicide and/or death
  • Stopping making future plans
  • Giving items or belongings away or wrapping up their affairs

Watch this video from RU OK? day about warning signs.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Have a look around you at the people in your life and consider whether there have been any changes to their behaviour lately that might give you the indication they are not ok.

Why do people attempt suicide?

It can be really difficult for people to understand why someone would want to take their own life. Often, when someone is in intense emotional pain or experiencing significant difficulties, suicide can feel like the only way out. Common reasons people think of when feeling suicidal include:

  • Thinking they are a burdenon others and that their death will benefit their loved ones
  • Wanting relief from physical / psychological / emotional pain
  • Feeling that their death wouldn’t matter- disconnected to others or that they lack purpose in life

It is important to know that suicide is incredibly complex, and not caused by one or two things. It is often a combination of a multitude of inter-relating factors. Contributing factors to suicide involve a mixture of biological, sociological, cultural, psychological and environmental factors that can include: 

  • Stressful life events
  • Grief
  • Trauma exposure
  • Mental illness
  • Physical illness
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Financial difficulties
  • Domestic/Family Violence

The Impacts

Suicide has devastating impacts on the people left behind as well as the surrounding communities such as workplaces, neighbourhoods, and schools.

Impacts of suicide include:

  • Increased risk of suicide in the loved ones left behind or the communities
  • Trauma exposure and increased risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Suicide bereavement and grief symptoms including:
  • Feelings of self-blame
  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Financial impacts to the national economy - it is estimated that suicide can cost Australia’s economy over $17 billion per year.
  • Suicide attempts can also lead to significant physical, emotional and psychological impacts in the individual that attempted suicide.

Those who have lost loved ones to suicide experience a particularly complex form of grief that involving shock, anger, guilt, social isolation, and increased risk of having suicidal thoughts themselves. In addition to this mix of emotions, bereavement following suicide often contains a prolonged search for an explanation for the person’s death. This form of grief can take a lot longer to process and often warrants support from a professional due to increased risk of having suicidal thoughts. 

It is not just the person’s loved ones that are impacted by suicide, those impacted by suicide can include the surrounding community, first responders such as police, ambulance or fire brigade, psychological service providers such as counsellors and psychologists.

What Can I Do This R U OK? Day?

Preventing Suicide:
Despite the increasing prevalence of reported suicide and the devastating impact, there are things that can be done to prevent suicide which RU OK? Day has summarised in an easy 4-step model below.

HOW TO GET READY TO ASK

Before you can start looking out for others, you need to look out for yourself. Therefore, before you ask someone you have noticed by be struggling, R U OK?, ask yourself the following questions:

Am I Ready?

  • Am I in a good headspace?
  • Am I willing to genuinely listen?
  • Can I give as much time as needed?

Picked my moment?

  • Do I understand that if I ask how someone’s going, the answer could be: “No, I’m not?
  • Do I understand that you can’t ‘fix’ someone’s problems?
  • Do I accept that they might not be ready to talk? Or they might not want to talk to me?

Am I prepared? 

  • Have I chosen somewhere relatively private and comfy?
  • Have I figured out a time that will be good for them to chat?
  • Have I made sure I have enough time to chat properly?

If your answers are yes to each of those questions, then you are ready to go to the next step. 

Tips On How To Ask R U Ok?

1. ASK R U OK?

  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach.
  • Help them open up by asking questions like "How are you going?" or "What’s been happening?"
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like "You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?"

If you experience push back: 

  • If they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.
  • Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.
  • Avoid a confrontation.
  • You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”

If you experience push back: 

  • Take what they say seriously and don't interrupt or rush the conversation.
  • Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them.
  • If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence.
  • Encourage them to explain: "How are you feeling about that?" or "How long have you felt that way?"
  • Show that you've listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.

3. ENCOURAGE ACTION

  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach.
  • Help them open up by asking questions like "How are you going?" or "What’s been happening?"
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like "You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?"

4. CHECK IN

  • Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
  • You could say: "I've been thinking of you and wanted to know how you've been going since we last chatted."
  • Ask if they've found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven't done anything, don't judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
  • Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

GETTING HELP

Whether you are concerned about a colleague, family member, friend, manager or acquaintance, you can contact the following support services:
  • Call or give the number for your EAP (Acacia EAP) to be linked to one of our counsellors for support, advice, or an appointment. Call 1300 364 273 or visit our website.
  • Managers can connect to the Acacia EAP Manager's Hotline to get more guidance on managing the situation.
  • RU OK? Day has created ALEC THE CHATBOT,named after R U OK?'s 4 steps (Ask, Listen, Encourage action and Check in). ALEC can provide tips on how to navigate a conversation with someone you're worried about.
  • Speak to your manager, supervisor or HR if you are concerned about someone at work.
  • Connect the person to their GP
  • Contact or encourage them to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • If you believe someone is in immediate danger, contact 000.

Suicide is a major issue effecting thousands of Australians. However, it is important to know that it can be prevented through increasing awareness, education and discussion of suicide. Asking someone if they are okay can often be the boost they need to seek help, making them feel someone cares about them when they feel alone. There is more risk of harm in not asking the question than asking it so why not try to start a meaningful conversation today this RU OK? Day. 

MENTAL HEALTH WORKSHOPS:

The Workshop Lab is a part of the Acacia Group and deliver specialised Mental Health training.
  • Mental Health for Leaders: This practical and informative session equips leaders within your organisation with the strategies, tools and techniques they need to manage employees who may be experiencing mental health conditions within the workplace. Duration: 4 hours 
  • Mental Health Training: this session is designed for all employees to attend. This workshop provides all of the essential tools and techniques needed to lift the mental health literacy within your workplace so everyone can contribute to a mentally healthy and supportive workplace culture. Duration: 3 hours 
 
P: 1300 390 366 | E: info@theworkshoplab.com 
www.theworkshoplab.com

"The safety and wellbeing of our clients and staff is always our top priority. Acacia EAP is currently operating under normal conditions. Due to the pandemic status of COVID-19, some locations may move from face-to-face counselling to secure video or phone. All counselling services are able to be provided 24/7, as always. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and act quickly on the advice of health authorities."