Today, Thursday 9th September is RUOK? Day. It is more relevant than ever following a year that has been harder than most given the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are an average 41 suicides in the Western Local Health District each year.
Member for Orange, Phil Donato is a fierce advocate for issues to do with mental health and suicide.
As a society, he says we’re experiencing what could arguably be the toughest challenge to mental health in generations.
Mr Donato said COVID-19 health order restrictions have affected almost all age groups, with forced social isolation having a detrimental impact on the mental well-being of everyone, to varying degrees.
There’s a compounding impact from drought, floods, storm, mice plagues and COVID-19.
He said relationships are under strain with people having lost jobs and household incomes. There’s probably never been a tougher time for children, he believes, given the essential adaptation while socially and physically distancing; with digital connectivity “a double-edged sword”.
“Tragically, suicide continues to occur and destroy many families and no community is immune,” Mr Donato said.
“Suicide is typically linked to a decline in a person’s mental health, where either intervention has failed or it’s gone unnoticed. Often following a suicide, the deceased’s loved-ones say that they saw signs, but wish they’d done something to address it.”
He encourages people to put the “Aussie country stoicism” aside and have real conversations.
R U OK? is a suicide prevention charity, aiming to inspire and empower meaning-fully connection.
If you or anyone needs help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.