Hope For Tomorrow commenced in 2011 as a peer support group for people who had lost a friend or loved one to suicide. Support groups provide a friendly, non-threatening environment in which to talk about your loved one, to share your pain and confusion, to grapple with the unanswered questions, and to discover a way forward.
We recognised that we were survivors trying to make sense of our personal chaos, searching for a way through the darkness. There was no need for secrecy. We could openly share our feelings no matter their intensity without fear of being judged.
It is against this backdrop of shared grief that three specific needs emerged
The need for encouragement
The need for education
The need for empowerment
The need for encouragement:
People bereaved by suicide need to know that they are not alone and that they are accepted. It is not uncommon for people grieving a tragic loss to fear being stigmatised or judged. Encouragement is about giving hope or confidence. It is about listening, supporting and doing what you can. It is about providing the space needed for the grief work to be done.
People experiencing suicidal thoughts also need to know that there is someone they can turn to. In the midst of their pain and confusion, feeling that they don’t belong and are burden on society, there is a desperate need for an understanding voice that can speak reason and encourage help seeking.
The need for education:
A number of peak bodies in suicide prevention are advocating the need to start a conversation about suicide. Jaelea Skehan, director of The Hunter Institute of Mental Health says, “We need to ensure that as a community, we are not too afraid to talk about suicide, while making sure that the conversations we have are informed, safe and helpful.”
Patrick McGorry, former Australian of the Year (2010) and a leading advocate for mental health issues says, “Suicide is a silent killer whose footprints are actively concealed by a frightened and judgmental society.”
People touched by suicide are uniquely placed to share their story. Researchers and medical professionals can help our understanding of the statistical data and the factors that contribute to suicidal thoughts (ideation).
The need for empowerment:
Suicide prevention is a shared responsibility. Everyone has a part to play. In 2014 the World Health Organisation produced a report “Preventing suicide: a global imperative.” Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization says, “Suicide is preventable … With timely and effective evidence-based interventions, treatment and support, both suicides and suicide attempts can be prevented.”
This is not to suggest that suicide can or will be eradicated. Suicide is far too complex to imagine such an outcome. With one million suicides a year worldwide it is a massive challenge. However, increased awareness and understanding of the issues, informed government policy, targeted interventions, and strong, committed communities will ensure greater support and encouragement to those at risk and ultimately save lives.
A commitment to suicide prevention implies a willingness to be informed. Knowledge of the myths that often hinder involvement, awareness of the multiple factors that place a person at risk, and an understanding of the protective factors that inspire hope and confidence in vulnerable people.
Empowerment relates to the acquisition of knowledge, increased awareness, and a desire to act.
Hope For Tomorrow is about encouraging, educating and empowering. The Hope For Tomorrow website is dedicated to this end. We invite your comments on the Contacts Page and guarantee your privacy. For all other communication email firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Hope For Tomorrow is not a crisis organisation. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts we would strongly encourage you to contact one of the Suicide Help Lines listed below.
Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
SuicideLine 1300 651 251
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
beyondblue Support Service 1300 22 4636