Talking about one of the taboo topics

Just some thoughts …

Suicide. It is one of the taboo subjects. Last year the Australian depression initiative Beyond Blue took legal action to prevent the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes broadcasting a story on the suicide of a teenage girl. They reasoned that showing such a story could lead to copycat suicides. The girl had been bullied on social networking sites.

Why can’t we talk about suicide? I will.

Donald Ritchie has lived opposite the notorious Sydney suicide spot ‘The Gap’ for 50 years. During that time he has saved up to 400 hundred people from jumping. Mostly, by talking to them.

What are you doing there, why don’t you come over to our place across the road and have a cup of tea. You can’t just sit there and watch them, I mean you’ve got to do something about it. Anybody’s like that.

This week Mr Ritchie was recognised as the Local Hero in the Australia Day Awards for his work in suicide prevention.

A little bit about me. Almost four years ago one night around Midnight, I decided that if my situation had not changed by 6:00am, then I would take an overdose of very high dose aspirin with codeine and very high dose paracetamol with codeine. By 6:00am nothing had changed so I took the tablets. When I threw up some of the tablets in the next hour I took more tablets to replace what I had lost. I finally told my best friend at about 10:00am why I was sick, and I was in hospital on a drip at about 11:00am. My friend was devastated as to why I would take an overdose. I was in a situation that I wanted changed. But I had concealed my problems, and wouldn’t talk about them. I was chronically depressed and saw an overdose as the only way out. I didn’t want to die. Just for things to change. I gave God an ultimatum. He didn’t deliver. So I did what I said I would do. I knew what I had done was wrong. It took a couple of years for me to realise that God is the answer to my problems.

A couple of weeks ago I posted just a sentence about a woman whose husband had been tragically killed leaving behind a wife and two children under three. It became clear a couple of days after that post that he committed suicide. Her posting on her blog, talking about what has happened to her, is allowing her to cope with this tragedy.

Why is talking about this subject, in the eyes of many, so difficult? Talking can and does help, in my experience. I will never try what I did again. And I can talk about what happened to me.

Lifeline USA: 1-800-784-2433
Lifeline Australia: 131114
Samaritans UK: 08457 90 90 90
Lifeline NZ: 0800 543 354


Australian of the Year | ABC Radio AM

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