The rising rates of suicide in Australia has been labelled a national emergency by the Lifeline CEO this week, after an interview on ABC News. According to statistics suicide has hit a record high after new figures reveal it has become the leading cause of premature death with eight people taking their lives each day.
This is outrageous and alarming to say the least, yet as bold as this may be, my feeling is, eight Australians a day is going to continue to rise as it has been for the past ten years if we remain living and responding to suicide in the same way we are today.
Why is it that even one person takes their own life ever, little less eight per day?
This is an essential question we must ask ourselves and truthfully address, as there is a fundamental understanding that needs to take place between the ages of birth and when someone commits suicide. Because clearly no child is born with the intention to self harm. No toddler is attempting to hang, shoot or gas themselves nor jump off a bridge.
What happens over the years that lead a person to such thoughts and actions?
What is it about the way we are living with ourselves, in our relationships, in our families, with our colleagues, with our friends and people generally right around the world where our world is one that people do not want to be a part of it anymore?
What world are we creating that successfully generates rising numbers of people killing themselves?
Pete Shmigel the CEO of lifeline highlights in his statement there is a disconnection, isolation and loneliness in our society that is contributing to why so many people take their own lives. Mr Shmigel continues to question the role of social media, our education and value systems, as he calls us to work hard to understand the causes of suicide.
So are we really willing to go there? Are we willing to truly see how our current systems are or are not supporting us to honestly deal with why people are in crisis and taking their own lives… we have to don’t we?
Perhaps not. I guess if the issue of suicide is not directly affecting us or someone close to us then it is easy to ignore and remain complacent. It is easier to leave it all up to politicians, teachers, social workers, support and emergency services. They can deal with this national emergency, it’s their job right?
Or is this where we are going so gravely wrong as a society, independently and as a collective race of beings. We are not living and expressing in a way that supports ourselves and others to feel truly connected to, deeply loved, cared for, nurtured, supported, included, valued, honoured, confirmed, cherished and appreciated.
We seem to be progressively allowing an increase of self abuse, by the very fact we see drinking alcohol (a known poison) and taking drugs an acceptable way to treat our own bodies, often defending that we need a drink to unwind, relax and connect with people.
From my lived experience working with young men and women whom have spoken to me about suicide, about the fact they are hearing voices, about the reasons why they are finding life so hard and not worth living, that they are thinking of killing themselves, that they can’t stop the thoughts that keep telling them how useless and pathetic they are, that they don’t know how to be in the world without smoking drugs, is always a moment of WOW.
Why? Because firstly they have no idea how beautiful they are.
How on earth did I just go from suicidal thoughts to you are beautiful. So easily.
For example: It was only recently I said to an amazing young woman who was having a rough time how beautiful she was. She said to me no body has ever said that to me. And the thing is, this is a young girl who has been ‘through the system’ you could say. Having had many workers support her in crisis, including psychologists, councillors, social workers, teachers, cat teams you name it. Yet even though this young woman has had so many people come and go from her life offering support, never had she heard those simple words.
How on earth is it that we hold back the very expression that people are so desperate to hear? And in this case the screaming obvious.
Is it not common sense to express love when someone is feeling a lack of love in their lives and outright communicating that?
Is it possible in the case of suicide we have become so focused on strategies to minimise harm and keep a person safe that we have left out what the person is truly calling for?
Why do we continuously go for the solutions, the ‘distraction techniques’ the ‘let’s keep you busy’ ‘the trying to fix it’ solution orientated way, rather than the essence of the person, whereby we truly express the love and care that is there to express all the time, everyday with ourselves and one another? Why do we wait for National emergencies to be shaken into considering change.
Now this is never to dismiss our duty of care in a crisis, nor is this to reject that naturally there are systems in place to keep people safe and away from immediate harm of themselves in crisis situations. I am simply highlighting there is so much more we can do to prevent suicide.
Suicide prevention starts much earlier than the moment of crisis. It starts the day we are born.
I have seen too many amazing young people think to end their lives because of a sense of loneliness, insecurities, lack of self-worth and sense of self, to skim over this call out from Mr Schmigel. Particularly as I have experience in this area and an understanding into the cause of suicidal ideation and suicide.
The way I see it is that our systems are failing us. Big time. Including our education system. And I’m a teacher saying this. Yet the thing is, we are the education system. And I’m not talking about having to work or study at school specifically. I am talking about life and the planet we live within as a race of beings. I am talking about the school of life we all live within everyday, every year as we rotate around the sun, provided another opportunity to learn from the past and move forward into the future with greater clarity, understanding and united purpose.
And the thing is by the time you stop reading this post it is likely many more have killed themselves as one person takes their own lives every 40 seconds around our world.
So what are we going to choose?
To carry on turning a blind eye to what’s going on in our own backyard, or begin to take full responsibility for the quality in which we live, with ourselves and others? Knowing that in our every expression and move we have the choice to heal or harm, expressing lovingly or not.
Is it possible expressing our love and care each and everyday is the simple shift that needs to take place so that people who feel lost, lonely, unsafe, dis-connected can again feel that the world they live in is one they want to live in. One that loves and confirms them for who they beautifully are. Just like we do with young children the day they are born.
In the Livingness of our own loving connection we inspire others to re-connect to love again. The love we innately are.
Suicide prevention is in the way we live in each moment.