Keep asking ‘Are you ok?’

SUICIDE is a difficult topic and with so many extra stressors in everyone’s lives right now, it is more important than ever to ask ‘Are you ok?’ and listen actively to the answer.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts needs to be taken seriously, and while many people considering ending their life do give some warning beforehand, some of those cues can be also non-verbal.
Canterbury Bankstown Councillor George Zakhia says when someone he knew took their own life a few years ago, it was a complete shock and still plays on his mind.
“This is something that affects the whole family and everyone left behind,” he said.
“There were symptoms and signs but we didn’t understand it at the time.
“That’s why I believe the more you talk about it, the more we can educate everyone to be aware of what people around them might be going through.”
While congratulating both the State and Federal Governments for boosting funding for mental health support, he said more needs to be done at every level of government, and has asked the council to prioritise suicide prevention as a funding area under their community grants program.
“It’s not just us, I want all councils to get on board and fund these types of local initiatives,” he said.
“There is never enough money to stop this but we have to start somewhere.
“We all have to work together to fund mental health care and specifically acute mental health units so they have the reach and resources they need to tackle this growing problem.”
A number of suicide prevention and support services operate within the LGA and the NSW Government has also promised more than $87 million statewide over the next three years to deliver the Towards Zero Suicides initiative.

How funds just as
essential as ever
EXTRA funding for mental health support and suicide prevention would be welcomed, according to those working in the sector.
Director of Bankstown based NDIS not-for-profit Angels Connect, Nalan Emeli says even children as young as 10 are feeling extra stress and pressure right now.
She says everyone needs to know that while it’s okay to feel down, there is also support available to help you find the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We have a volunteer counsellor who works with people in vulnerable positions and those living with a range of mental health issues that need support,” she said.
“A lot of people feel like they will be judged, but it’s about telling people that ‘we are here for you and happy to walk beside you’.”

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, call Triple Zero (000) or seek support from Lifeline, 13 11 14; the Suicide Call Back Service, 1300 659 467 or NSW Mental Health Line, 1800 011 511.

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