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“Hey, you seem pretty down mate, want to have a chat?”

Talking about suicide, negative feelings and the resources available to you

There is a well-documented stigma around mental health, depression and suicide – particularly for Australian males – that makes it harder to talk about having these feelings and harder to reach out for help, when help is needed.

These attitudes, and the reluctance to even talk to close mates about negative feelings and thoughts, may be part of the explanation as to why suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-45, and the second-leading cause of death among those 45-54 years of age. *

Suicide in Australia is a concern for everybody because we’re all, in one way or another, touched by it. Here, death by suicide is twice the national road toll, a statistic that would shock many. In 2019, 3,318 Australians died by intentional self-harm, that’s around 9 deaths per day (compared to 2,480 in 2010, and 2,922 in 2014). **

The fact, of course, is that suicide always leaves pain – the loss of so many promising lives, and so many loved ones, colleagues and friends left so bewildered in its wake.

Its causes are many, but so commonly bound to depression, anxiety and stress. These dark and disabling mental disorders, and the deep curtain of helplessness and profound sadness that accompanies them, can propel sufferers to dangerous thoughts of there “being no way out”.

But there is always “a way”, and connection, intervention, treatment, and the support of family, friends, loved ones, and work colleagues can help a person who may be struggling back to good health and enjoyment of life.

We all need to learn of course that none of us is bulletproof. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of your own mental health and to reach for help when needed – just call your GP or health professional, start by saying, “Hey doc, I’m feeling a little out of whack…”, and they’ll know what to say next.

It is also important to notice how your mates are travelling. And if you have any concerns – if they’ve been drinking a lot more than usual, seem distant and disconnected or isolating themselves – ask them, “Hey, you seem pretty down mate, want to have a chat?”.

To learn more about suicide and how to start the conversation if someone you care about needs a helping hand, log in to the Protect Support & Learning Hub using your Protect membership number and view ADA Australia’s THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK OF MENTAL HEALTH pp. 110-117.

We all have a part to play in being aware of the problem, in keeping connected with others who may be showing signs of struggle, and in protecting our own mental health.


Please do speak to your GP, they can help you back to good health, or call a helpline: LIFELINE 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636. Or, if you would just like to chat about any of the information in this article, call either of the Protect confidential 24/7 wellbeing services:

ADA’s Friendly Ear - 1800 232 287
Protect Counselling - 1300 725 881

Learn more about the Protect ADA Australia partnership

Published Monday 16 August, 2021