Suicide trend sets off alarm
A MULLUMBIMBY woman says an alarming rise in suicides in Byron Shire, particularly in Mullumbimby, prompted her to start a campaign to raise more awareness of suicide prevention strategies.
Kerry Gray said while it was hard to get statistics on suicide, anecdotal evidence suggested there had been at least seven cases in Mullumbimby this year, a disturbing increase on previous years. She said most of them were young people and the issue needed to be brought out into the open.
“When you talk to people in the community there is a lack of awareness and understanding about suicide,” she said.
“People want to offer support but they are unsure how to do that. It's still such a taboo subject.”
To help get the wheels in motion Ms Gray recently organised a meeting of people involved in suicide prevention. They included mental health workers, social workers, drug and alcohol counsellors, youth and family workers and paramedics to discuss the current situation and how the local area was coping.
They found the main problems were limited resources and a lack of up-to-date local information available on suicide and its prevention.
The group also agreed there needed to be a better way of managing emergency call-outs to threatened or attempted suicides.
“A person in uniform turning up is not always the best way to go. We need to find a way to ensure mental heath workers are available to back up emergency service workers if someone calls 000,” she said.
After the initial meeting, group members have agreed to work towards setting up a bereavement support group to help people affected by suicide.
They are also aiming to bring more suicide prevention workshops to Byron Bay and Mullumbimby.
For more information see www.ozshop.net/community/SPS.php.