'Open up' over suicide

IT IS a social issue generally shied away from in public discussion, but social workers and GPs say suicide – and the resources available to those contemplating it – needs to be talked about more openly.

Even more pressing, Warwick police say they are responding to more attempted suicides in recent months.

Yesterday, the Daily News sat down with local GP Dr Ross Hetherington and Headspace team leader Sophia McLucas to hear what options there are for those thinking about taking their own lives.

“Help is available either through GPs, here at Headspace or directly through the hospital,” said Dr Hetherington.

“Headspace isn’t for the acute cases, but we’ll try and help as best we can. This is for the ongoing support after the acute treatment.”

Headspace is an organisation that helps 12 to 25-year olds. One of the many roles of Sophia McLucas is to assess the risk for each client, including that of suicide.

“We’re an early intervention service, not a (reactive) service,” she said.

“We’ll find out what the problem is, why it has arisen and if it’s related to depression, drugs, bipolar (disorder) or whatever.

“The options are intensive counselling, medication and whatever support.”

Dr Hetherington said there were warning signs for people contemplating suicide, but said you could not generalise the at-risk people.

“It’s a range of reasons – depression, use of illegal and legal drugs,” he said.

“Some signs are withdrawal and someone who has had a change in behaviour. If they’ve gone from being happy to sad, there’s something on their mind. Also, changes in sleep and diet.”

If a family member or friend indicated they were considering taking their own life, Dr Hetherington said it was vital to take it seriously.

“Talk to them about why – a lot of times they’re just crying out for help and need some support,” he said.

“Some people say we shouldn’t talk to people at risk about suicide, but no one’s killed themselves because of talking about it.”

Mrs McLucas said clients at Headspace could talk about any problems without worrying about their parents finding out.

“Kids can also come here without seeing a doctor first,” she said.

“The confidentiality here is the same as seeing a doctor.

“Mum and dad won’t be told unless you want them to.”

Other services available to those thinking about suicide include Beyond Blue (1300 22 46 36) or After Hours Suicide Support Service (1800 859 585).

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