Wednesday 20th of January 2021

Save Our Suicides- "people power" prevention

The fact that Facebook won't allow the word "suicide" to be used in an event title shows how much the subject has remained taboo in this new electronic information age. While understandable that nobody wants to see folks invite others to their deaths, it certainly doesn't help those who are trying to stop more suicides from happening.

Facebook certainly didn't seem to mind in the days following Trevor Cologne's death. Some of you might recognise the name from GetUp's organising of the candles at Canberra's Parliament Hose last Monday. Trevor had, after posting cries for help, photographed himself with a rope around his neck, hit the "like" button, and then took his own life. Trevor's personal page, with that picture, remained online for several days.

Around the same time a local country doctor, an advocate for community mental health, had died by his own hand and this was being discussed on radio. Trevor's family gave their permission for his story to be told in the Advertiser. Somewhere between these events, the taboo on the topic lifted, at least for a while, and now more is being done to promote awareness in various arms of the media, in hope that more deaths will be prevented.

The sentiment that more sympathy and support are needed for those left behind, as well as the root problem being fixed, has grown so strong in Adelaide that an event has been planned for Good Friday. Many who've lost friends and loved ones are bringing simple tributes to them, bearing their names, to lay on the steps of our Parliament House. No speeches, no politics, just a dignified remembrance with an underlying hope of a brighter future. Being promoted through the name "SOS: Save Our Suicides", It's being hoped, too, that media coverage of the event will show others how many people's lives are being affected.

It's taken a few days since a small group of people initiated the event for a "people power" to emerge.. but when it did, it took off. So many have been letting friends know, stories are being shared, and a new level of healing seems to be already beginning. There's no doubt that there'll be plenty attending , enough for the pollies to see a mandate in making suicide prevention a far greater priority than it is now.

Why am I so passionately supporting this cause? When I first saw the picture with the rope, a day after Trevor died, it was with a chilling realisation of "There but for the grace of God go I". Actually, God didn't have a lot to do with it ... my family and friends did. I too have had something round my neck ... ten years back. I came to my senses walking around with a microphone cable as a "scarf", feeling compelled to find somewhere to attach it. Luckily I was able to break away from this compulsion and go get help. From this experience (and hearing and reading of others) I think that those who say those who suicide are thinking things they shouldn't mostly haven't been at such a point in their lives to know what they're passing judgement on. I'd reckon that others, like me, were simply looking to not exist any more. As I said, I've been lucky that the support I received has made this a long-past event that I survived.

Many have been able to get help before they've died, many haven't. There is more that can be done to stop folks from getting to this point. Sure it's going to cost money, but everything does. From what I've seen happening in Adelaide over the last week because the subject made it into the media, I've begun to think that a different level of media sensitivity needs to come into play.

If you knew how many people are affected by suicides in your community, you might be quite surprised. While it will not be comfortable for some to participate in events such as the Save Our Suicides one in Adelaide (Parliament House steps on Good Friday at 11am, if you're over this way you'd be made welcome), you’re about to see a lot of people enabling their losses to make a difference, and hopefully help the deaths to stop existing instead of the people they love.