Suicide — 27 February 2018

Photo: Trys Reddick asks his students to write on post it notes what they know about suicide. (ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

Would you know what to do if you thought someone you love was suicidal?

It’s a complex situation best handled by professionals, but like physical emergencies, knowing mental health first aid can help.

The concept has been around since the 1990s but a new course focused on suicide has been developed.

Trys Reddick, an accredited Mental Health First Aid instructor, runs the course in Perth through his organisation Passionate Lives.

He relies on grant money to be able to deliver the service free of charge to the community.

At the moment the course is so popular he has 200 people on a waiting list.

What are the signs someone is feeling suicidal?
Signs to look out for
  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves
  • Talking or writing about death or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless, enraged, angry, seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, as if there is no way out
  • Increasing alcohol and drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic changes in mood
  • No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life

Source: Mental Health First Aid Australia

The course teaches several signs to look out for.

They include someone acting recklessly, talking or writing about suicide and withdrawing from friends and family.

Helping someone who is suicidal is complicated, but the course suggests three key actions to take.

The first is if you think someone’s suicidal, ask them directly.

If they say yes, don’t leave them alone, and try to get them professional help. A trusted GP is the first port of call.

One of Mr Reddicks’ students knows more about suicide than most.

Two attendees of a meeting about suicide run by Passionate Lives.

Photo: Paul Mallett tried to take his own life — but now he’s trying to help other people who may find themselves in the same situation (ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

Three years ago Paul Mallett tried to end his life.

“I don’t want to hide things, I’ve always drunk alcohol, it hasn’t been great,” Mr Mallett said.

“I probably still drink too much alcohol but ultimately a family breakdown led to a crisis for me.”

After 20 minutes, the 51-year-old called an ambulance.

“I guess it dawned on me, if I can’t look after my kids, who’s going to do it?

“The experiences I’ve had since then are things I wouldn’t trade for the world — teaching my son to drive a car, helping with homework, just chatting, going to the movies, all those things that normal people do.”

The course Mr Reddick teaches, which was developed by Mental Health First Aid Australia, has won a big tick of approval from Beyond Blue’s Grant Blashki.

“Mental health first aid is really appropriate for anyone in the community but especially people who are in the education sector or community groups or having a lot of contact with members of the public,” he said.

For information about mental health first aid, visit Mental Health First Aid Australia.

This piece was originally seen on ‘ABC News’ 8 February 2018.

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