General News Stigma Reduction — 13 December 2013

Most people willing to jump from a 10-storey building are looking to end their life, not talk about it.

But a new suicide-prevention program in the Northern Territory is hoping that by getting local personalities to abseil from the side of a city carpark, they’ll be working to destigmatise suicide and encourage discussion.bigstock_Police_57729

Some 20 Darwinites took the plunge on Wednesday morning, including Lord Mayor Katrina Fong Lim, Qantas regional manager Neil Ager, representatives from beyondblue, Anglicare CEO David Pugh, a race between Channel 9 and NT News staff, and Catholic Bishop Eugene Hurley.

So far this year in the Territory, 37 people have died as a result of suicide, which is two more than have died in road accidents, says NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts.

The majority of those are young indigenous men living in remote communities.

“We seem to be very comfortable talking about road fatalities and, while that’s a terrible statistic in its own right, I think the fact that 37 people were so depressed, so distressed and found the only solution for them at that time was to kill themselves (is worse),” Mr McRoberts told reporters.

“I think the tradition of not talking about suicide is not serving us well.”

He said mental illness and suicide had been stigmatised and needed to be overcome so vulnerable people could access services such as Headspace and beyondblue.

People have found mental illness hard to talk about outside of family networks, he said.

“As a modern society, as a very sophisticated society, it’s time for us to talk sensitively about this very real and important subject,” Mr McRoberts said.

This article first appeared on ‘7 News’ on 11 December 2013.


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