Hospi­tals in­un­dated with sui­ci­dal pa­tients

Re­duce stigma to en­cour­age peo­ple to seek help: SANE CEO

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Ali­son Bald­ing

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

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