THE stigma surrounding suicide is lessening and people are starting to talk more openly about a topic once clouded by secrecy. Grapevine Group chairman Laurence Manning said he’d noticed some of the taboo initially attached to suicide had been lifted but there was still some way to go. “It’s important because… we need to treat mental illness the same as we treat any ailment… it should be a topic that can be discussed,” Mr Manning said. There still was an appalling suicide rate in Mackay, he said. “Right now, we seem to be going through a particularly bad period.” The community is in mourning after 17-year-old Sarah Rigby died by suicide last Tuesday. Her death came just weeks after the region was shocked by the deaths of NRL hopefuls Regan Grieve and Hayden Butler.
Mr Manning said the community and the country had worked very hard to reduce the road toll – and the same needed to be done for suicide. “We need similar resources, similar attitude and similar awareness… because we are losing more to suicide than to traffic fatalities,” he said. “Suicide can attack anyone. It can attack your family member, close friend… and it can come out of the blue.” Safetalk is suicide prevention training that helps people to recognise warning signs in others.
This article first appeared Daily Mercury, 23 February 2015