R U really OK? Suicide prevention when you are a member of a “high risk group”

suicide prevention Nita Spedding

On a day centred on Suicide awareness and prevention, we look to tackle one of society’s stigmas.

With the general public starting to adopt initiatives such as R U OK? Day and seeking out training such as Mental Health First Aid, we are shattering those old stigmas right?

There is a deeper taboo relating to the topic of suicide that we are yet to address. Within the myriads of mental health reports, and in reference to suicide rates, there is what is known as the “high risks groups”.

This term “high risk groups” is just another reference term for minority groups such as CALD communities, LGBTQIA+ communities, People with Disabilities, the elderly and members of the Aboriginal community.

Each of these communities face their own internal factors that contribute towards those being at risk of suicide, those who act, those who survive and those who are impacted by the act of suicide.

To ask a lifesaving question to any members of any of communities above is the honourable thing to do however if you are a member of these communities, feeling that you can respond honestly without facing any further stigma is a barrier faced by many.

Minority groups, by historical trend and examples, are accustomed to being judged and further stigmatised. Every other day of the year, members of these “high risk groups” face unspeakable stigma, abuse and exclusion however on the one day where it is socially acceptable to reach out and ask a lifesaving question – how would you feel?

If the day before, you were being slurred with derogatory slurs, being mistreated or treated with passive aggressive discontent in public or the workplace then today asked if you are ok?

I am a multiple member of these “high risk groups” and R U OK Day is just another day. However that is what we should be focusing on. That it is a brand new day and if you are a member of a “high risk group” simply break IT down. Break your time down, so if you’re having a bad week, take life one day at a time. If you’re having a bad day, take it one hour at a time and if you’re struggling to get through half an hour, make it your mission to reach out to someone you know or the resources at the top and bottom of this article. Know, my fellow “high risk” community member, that the only shame in reaching out is carried by anyone who does not treat you with respect and open arms in your time of need.

It is the responsibility of every member of society to practice respectful inclusivity of every fellow member of our society, every day of the year.

Speaking to an academic, they mentioned that at the beginning of their lectures, they do a welcome to country statement but also acknowledge that Aboriginal people are the most intelligent civilization to ever exist. The academic went on to say that they are met with many complexed faces belonging to their students. So the academic continues “because Aboriginal people are the longest surviving civilization on Earth”.

At a community event today, that was held to promote awareness around Aboriginal suicide rates in Western Australia, I told this story of the academic but added that as it stands, Aboriginal Suicide rates surpass that of the general community.

We are the longest surviving civilization with the highest suicide rates.

Respectful inclusivity is desperately required to have a consistent presence in mental health reform and suicide prevention initiatives to ensure that “high risk groups” have their voices not only listened to but also heard.

Packing up the event yesterday, I noticed a mystery community member had graffiti on our event sign.

The words that were on that sign, in yellow highlighter, are ones that truly reflected what we need to remember on days like today and any days where you might be breaking your day down or supporting someone who has reached out to you.

The words were peace and love.

By Nita Spedding

Nita can be found on LinkedIn with a full list of the many hats she wears.

**If you or someone you know needs assistance please call Lifeline 13 11 44

Suicide Call Back Line 1300 659 467 or attend your nearest emergency department**

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