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Every year 65,000 Australians attempt to commit suicide; 2,500 are successful. Worldwide one million people take their own lives annually; that is more lives lost to suicide than to war and homicide combined. It is statistics such as these that signal the global need for change when approaching the issue of suicide.

September’s World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day promote such a change by encouraging people to openly speak about the taboo subject. Each day aims to not only raise awareness and funds to prevent suicide, but to also let those affected by or considering suicide know they are not alone.

Lifeline’s Out of the Shadows hosted a walk at St Kilda’s Catani Gardens on September 9, 2012 to mark World Suicide Prevention Day and promote these vital ideas. The core message for the day was fitting; ‘It’s okay to talk about suicide’.

“I think the slogan that we’ve got this year; ‘It’s okay to talk about suicide’, is very important,” Louise Flynn, Support After Suicide’s Manager, said. “There are unsafe ways to talk about suicide, but there are also safe and responsible ways and we need to talk about it.”

This message comes not long after the public breakdown of 46-year-old celebrity Charlotte Dawson. Dawson was repeatedly verbally abused and told to kill herself by internet trolls via the social network site Twitter. In the end, that is exactly what she attempted to do.

Sadly Dawson is merely a drop in the ocean when it comes to cyber-bullying with Microsoft’s 2008 research finding that one in four children reported to having been bullied online.

The development of technology and the growing popularity of social media have provided tormentors with additional outlets of abuse where, apparently, there are little to no consequences. What many cyber-bullies do not realise, however, is the severity of their actions.

In recent years suicide has climbed to the highest cause of death amongst men under the age of 44 and women under the age of 34. Bulling is a large contributor to this statistic.

“Every one of us has the power to lift someone up or to put them down, even in small ways that we may not realise,” founder of suicide support foundation Life Is…, Tony Gee, said. “I suggest that we all be thoughtful in our ways and walk with compassion and with care.”

Those whom operate Lifeline’s suicide hotline demonstrate the importance of being compassionate and caring. Each year 700,000 calls are placed to Melbourne’s Lifeline where 320 volunteers operate the phones day in and day out. Each volunteer aims to alleviate the callers stress and help them through their crisis.

“Our goal and, I guess our reason for living is our cause; people in crisis, people who are in danger of going down this (suicidal) road,” Terry Keating, Melbourne’s Lifeline Manager, said. “Hopefully we can change that.”

If you or someone you know is showing signs of suicide, whether it be withdrawing from friends and family, giving away possessions or talking about ‘ending it’, assistance is available. Please contact Lifeline’s 24 hour helpline on 13 11 14, Kids Help Line (5-25yrs) on 1800 55 1800 or Mensline on 1300 789 978.

If you or someone you know is in need of support following a suicide, contact Support After Suicide on (03) 9421 7640 or visit www.supportaftersuicide.org.au for more information.

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