Today is National Suicide Prevention Day. A day to raise awareness about suicide. It also ties in with R U OK Day in the hopes that people will check in with their loved ones to make sure they are doing ok. Statistics say that at least 6 people commit suicide in Australia everyday and a further 30 will attempt suicide.
I was going to write about the pain and despair felt when it feels like suicide is the only answer, but something else was bought to my attention. I was on twitter earlier and saw a flippant remark about slitting their wrists because none of their bingo numbers had been called. These remarks are not new but that doesn’t mean we need to accept them. After venting about the stupidity of it all, this video was sent to me.
Jeff Kennet is the President of Beyond Blue, an organisation that every day provides support to Australians who are struggling. Beyond Blue is one of the sites that I link to when someone asks me for information or needs support. So I was disgusted when the President said that ‘you may as well go and cut your wrists if Clive Palmer has an influence.’ Now say what you will about Clive Palmer and his ‘special’ kind of politics but is not appropriate for a man who is the face of an organisation that is attempting to rid stigma around mental illness to use such a flippant remark.
A remark like this laughs in the face of people who are working tirelessly to reduce the stigma around mental illness. Everyday there is misinformed people talking about the ‘crazies’ and how they need to be locked away from the community. These are uneducated people, they are not people who are the face of an organisation who deals with the mentally ill and their families.
People turn to Beyond Blue for support and information and I can’t help feeling that this man’s comments tarnish their reputation. I wonder why they allow a man with so little regard for his words and the impact they have on the public.
This of course is not his first off hand remark that has bought the organisation into disrepute. In 2011 Kennett made homophobic remarks that stated that heterosexual families are the best environment for a child’s mental health. This comment caused uproar in the community and many called for his resignation. Yet he’s still the head of the organisation.
Telling another person to ‘go slit your wrists’ or make light of the anguish that people feel everyday is NEVER ok. It is even more so when it comes from someone who is the face of a Mental Health organisation. I wonder why he is still allowed to head an organisation when he so obviously has no knowledge of the pain a person with a mental illness faces.
Only when we speak out and tell people that it is not OK to make flippant remarks about suicide will we begin to chip away at the stigma. By telling our stories, sharing our pain we are letting others know that it is OK to be open when you are struggling. It is OK to say ‘Hey I need a bit of a help right now’.
For more information have a look at the Suicide Prevention website.
Linking up with Jess for IBOT