Silent epidemic

woman in the shadowsBy Penny Mulvey

Today, Thursday 10 September, is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Why do we need such a day?

Because suicide is still something talked about in hushed tones.

Because suicide is the leading cause of death for men and women in Australia between the ages of 15-44.

Each year in Australia, 2,500 people take their own lives. Think about how many people that impacts … parents, grandparents, siblings, offspring, friends, work colleagues. Think about that wasted potential.

The numbers increase when you factor in those who plan or attempt to take their own life, 65,000, and those who think about taking their own life – a staggering 400,000 people.

As you read this, you are likely to fit into one of those impacted categories. As I think of my own workplace, at least five of my colleagues have lost loved ones as a result of suicide. Grief, anger, heartbreak and emptiness accompany them each minute of the day as they seek to find purpose in the routine and engagement of work.

At a personal level, two of my children have struggled with mental illness and self-harm. The Beyond Blue website ( ) provided practical help for two parents struggling to know what to do and who regularly feel helpless and inadequate.

One thing I have learnt is not to be afraid to ask. If you are concerned for the safety of a friend or loved one, ask them. ‘Do you feel safe?’ ‘Do you need anyone with you right now?’

Some people plan their own deaths, but for many it is a spontaneous decision triggered by a particularly dark moment. Removing objects that can facilitate a person’s ability to take their own life can help.

While it is important to take suicide and mental illness out of the closet, we also need to be conscious of the words we use in jest about taking our own lives. All around you there will be people who are carrying deep pain associated with the unexpected death of a loved one. Careless words are like daggers to the heart.

We live in a society that, in its desire to be more and more connected, somehow is leading to increased isolation, and a greater sense of failure and self-hatred. Depression, anxiety, fear and low self-esteem are increasingly the norm. It is difficult to combat those negative voices in the head.

On this World Suicide Prevention Day, and every other day, may we be kind to each other and look out for each other, because all lives matter.

“Faith, hope and love, these three remain. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression please contact:

Lifeline:, P: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue:, P: 1300 22 4636

World suicide prevention day:

Image by rippchenmitkraut66 via Flickr.


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