Rising suicide numbers a nationwide concern
LIKE many people growing up in a regional community, Yamba woman Julie Reynolds has been personally affected by suicide.
It was what inspired her to join Lifeline as a crisis supporter, and what led to the beginnings of Maclean's Suicide Bereavement Support Group.
But the tragic reality, Ms Reynolds said, was that suicide touched everyone in the community.
And it's an issue that appears to be growing not only in the Clarence Valley but across the nation, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The latest Causes of Death report released on Monday shows 2864 people took their own lives in 2014, an increase of almost 13.5% from 2013.
Of those deaths, 2260 were male and 704 were female.
It is the highest number and rate of suicide deaths recorded in recent years, and has already sparked an announcement from Lifeline CEO Pete Shmigel that the organisation would campaign heavily for suicide prevention funding to be doubled by the Federal Government to respond to the drastic increase, which in 2014 accounted for a total 97,066 years of potential life lost.
"We as a community cannot accept this needless loss of life," he said.
"Devastating is the only way to describe the increase in deaths by suicide in Australia. We cannot forget that behind these numbers are tragic stories of trauma and heartache for mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends, colleagues and whole communities."
Which is where the Clarence Valley's suicide bereavement group comes in. Set up by Ms Reynolds and Barbara Rigg, its aim is to provide a place where people can feel safe to speak about their grief their loss their loved one.
"We've been going for just over two years and over that period we've had as many as seven or eight people come at once, and then other weeks we have had just a few," Ms Reynolds said.
"But as long as we can help one person it's helping overall. This is really very private stuff and hard to deal with, but the best way is to get people to talk about it and not let it be such a secret. A problem or pain shared, makes it so much better."
To get in touch with the Suicide Bereavement Support Group, phone Julie Reynolds on 6645 8232 or Barbara Rigg on 6645 1400.
If you or someone you know is seeking help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.