CRISIS: Two Australian women kill themselves every day.ALLthe lost years.Every day, about two Australian women kill themselves. Every single day.
These women, mostly young, are not the image we have of suicide. Mostly, we think about sad young men, the lost, the lonely. We lose five lovely men. Every single day.
So much living lost. So much pain for the parents and family and friends. So much missed.
And mostly, when we talk about suicide, we talk about men. New figures about women should frighten us all.
Now young women are increasingly attempting suicide; hurting themselves, choosing more violent means by which to try to kill themselves. Since 2000, the number of women aged 15 to 24 years who injured themselves so severely that they required hospital treatment has increased by more than 50 per cent.They are still girls. Still girls.
Over the last 20 years, those who struggle to stop male self-harm are slowly – too slowly – working to decrease the numbers. Since 1997, the number and rate of male suicide has declined – a terrible peak of nearly 24 deaths per 100,000 is now sitting – still far too high – at around 17 deaths per 100,000. It’s a testament to the achievements of those who’ve worked with young men to bring them back from the brink. And even though we think it’s extraordinary that the rate of suicide among men has reduced by one-third, we are not entirelysure what caused that decline.
But the rate and number of women who kill themselves is unmovable –around five per 100,000. Every year, every single year since 1989.
We can’t make it stop instantly but we can all be much more vigilant around the well-being of the young people around us. There are so many warning signs, so many; and sometimes we ignore them.
And the biggest warning sign, the most reliable indicator that a young person will make an attempt?
That’s just using the phrase, “I want to kill myself.”
It’s definitely – really, truly – not attention seeking. In fact, Jacinta Hawgood, a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer at the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, who specialises in risk assessment and intervention, would be utterly relieved if people would just abandon that myth. She says that when someone uses that expression – or one just like it – they are revealing a serious problem.
There are, of course, other warning signs. But Hawgood says that a sudden change in behaviour is often a give-away. More sleep. Increased irritability. Anything dramatically different is a sign that this is more than just the usual transition into adulthood.
“It’s not an easy thing to address with people. But if someone says: ‘No-one loves me’, that’s the real warning sign.”
We can’t always convince them of our love. But we can show them our love by listening, by showing our young people how to get help.
– By Fairfax journalist Jenna PriceThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.