Hospitals inundated with suicidal patients
Reduce stigma to encourage people to seek help: SANE CEO
MORE than 21 people, on average, have been presenting to Mt Druitt or Blacktown emergency departments every week in the past year after attempting suicide or admitting to feeling suicidal.
Blacktown mental health nursing unit manager Ashley Baker said patients ranged from children as young as eight to people older than 90.
“At Blacktown emergency department, we have had about 1400 presentations over the last year and at Mt Druitt we have had about 230 presentations a year,” Mr Baker said.
“Blacktown Hospital’s emergency department is a gazetted unit, set up to accommodate consumers who are under the Mental Health Act, which is why there is a higher number of presentations.”
He said of those who accessed his unit in the past 12 months, about 70 per cent presented with suicidal thoughts, attempts or ideas.
This month SANE Australia CEO Jack Heath said a national increase in the number of suicides was “unacceptable”.
“In 2014 Australia hit the highest rate of suicide in 10 years,” Mr Heath said.
“(A total of) 2864 deaths by suicide is 2864 too many. We need to redouble our efforts to prevent suicide at a na- tional, state and local level.
“We also must reduce the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness so that people are encouraged to seek help early on.”
Mr Baker agreed: “We need to communicate with the public and reduce stigma so community members feel comfortable to talk about any concerns they may have.
“Too many people feel selfconscious talking about their troubles as they feel they would burden their family or friends.
“It’s really important that the community is educated about mental health and that it is real. So many people think that it can be managed easily by just ‘getting on with life’, which then isolates people and they suffer in silence.” If you need someone to talk to call Lifeline, 13 11 14.
Too many people feel self-conscious talking about their troubles as they feel they would burden their family or friends
Ashley Baker believes community education is important to understand and manage mental health isssues. Picture: Justin Sanson