Our silent killer
By EMMA CORNFORD
THE new year has been a sad beginning for some Clarence Valley families, with four people in the area taking their own lives in the past two weeks.
It is a difficult issue for many people to talk about, but Clarence Valley community programs mental health case worker Cassandra Plesman says depression and mental illness are issues suffering from a dire lack of attention and funding.
"Suicide is on the rise. In the past couple of weeks I've heard of several cases, just around new year's eve, in this area," Ms Plesman said.
"Even (yesterday) morning I was talking to several clients and they feel they are being ignored. Not just in the community but in the hospital. I mean, these are problems in the medical system ? even there there's a stigma attached to mental illness and they're not taken seriously. It shouldn't happen, but it does."
The North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) will soon receive a boost to its mental health care, with 15 additional beds at Richmond Clinic, the construction of an eight-bed youth and child facility and a long-term rehabilitation clinic being built in Coffs Harbour.
But Ms Plesman said it was not enough.
"They will help ? every little bit helps," she said.
"But it's not going to help without the follow-up. It's no good people getting treatment at Richmond Clinic then coming out and having no-one there to follow-up their medication or their condition."