Every year, about 2,500 Australians take their own lives.
On Thursday, many of the tens of thousands of people affected by loss will come together to take part in World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day, to help stem the tide.
Martina McGrath will be one of them.
Two years ago, burdened by financial stress and feeling alone, she set herself on fire and suffered burns to 70 per cent of her body.
“It’s not always just a mental health issue, there are often a number of social triggers and factors that come into play that lead a person to get to that point,” she said.
“I felt that I had no love and hope, and with the absence of love and hope I felt my world fell apart.”
On Thursday she will be speaking at a World Suicide Prevention Day forum in Brisbane, about her work with Griffith University’s Australian Institute for Suicide Prevention and Research to establish the country’s first support group for suicide attempt survivors.
“There’s research showing it works, there’ll be no stigma in the room, it’ll be okay to talk about how you’re feeling,” she said.
The theme for the 2015 World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Suicide Prevention: Reach Out and Save a Life’ and a key message from the mental health experts is that if you are worried about someone, talk to them — the earlier the better.
‘It’s the most awful thing you can ever experience’
Former mental health chief adviser John Mendoza and his partner, Marion Wands, lost their nephew to suicide last year.
“It’s the most awful thing you can ever experience. Suicide is preventable,” Ms Wands said.
On Thursday, their organisation will launch a free app for mobile devices, developed with the Salvation Army, which guides people through a conversation with someone they may be worried about.
“Often people stay away because they don’t know what to say, but people having suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean they will suicide if we get in with early interventions.”
But Mr Mendoza said much more is needed with one in five teenagers now unemployed.
“We’re facing very high levels, in some places unprecedented rates,” he said.
“The last time we had such high rates of youth unemployment we had a very high rate of suicide amongst young people.
He wants the Government to invest in better access to training, education and employment programs and mental health and well-being programs in schools.
He said last year’s mental health commission report must be implemented.
“This is not the time to be sitting on our hands navel gazing or talking about action, it’s the time to act,” he said.
Health Minister Sussan Ley has promised strong policy reform after an expert panel returns its recommendations on the National Mental Health Commission report.
Speaking at an R U OK launch today, she said: “We’re very focussed from a policy level in our response to the National Mental Health Commissions’ plan.”
World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day events will be held across the country on Thursday.
This article first appeared on ‘ABC’ on 9 September 2015.