Nearly two years ago, before we had even contemplated a pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison appointed Christine Morgan as Australia's first national suicide prevention adviser.
He was drawing a line in the sand, committing the federal government to working "towards zero suicides".
This week, Ms Morgan's key report - titled the National Suicide Prevention Adviser Final Advice - was published. It was developed with significant contribution from people with a lived experience of suicidal thoughts and suicide.
Not surprisingly, but importantly, it found that we are missing opportunities to reach people earlier in suicidal distress and to prevent the onset of suicidal behaviour.
Ms Morgan said Australia needs a more connected and compassionate approach which takes support to people where they are when they experience such distress.
With that in mind, one key statistic leaps out from her report.
That is of course that the suicide rate in Australia's rural and regional areas is 40 per cent higher than in major cities.
As we know, suicidal behaviour can be experienced by anyone, but some populations and groups are disproportionately affected, including people in rural and regional areas.
That's not because they are intrinsically more at risk, but because they find themselves isolated - either because of where they live or because stigma makes them feel that nobody understands, making it harder to ask for and access support.
The report also reminds us that rural and regional communities can also experience sudden and ongoing adversity, which can lead to financial hardship that compounds the mental strain.
We've had much of that here in Victoria, through bushfires, droughts, and the extended COVID-19 lockdown.
And I was really struck again last month, watching New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian as the state had to turn its attention once more to a natural disaster.
She opened her news conference saying that many people across NSW who were being battered by devastating flooding would now be at breaking point, having in some places already had to manage the 2019-20 bushfires and the pandemic and suddenly be hit by rising waters.
Yet despite that history of adversity, traditionally there are fewer mental health supports and professional services available in rural and regional areas, and many people in those areas may feel less comfortable seeking help anyway.
As one of the personal stories quoted in Ms Morgan's report put it: "In rural communities, there is a strong culture of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and denying the need for help and being distrustful of mental health professionals."
What gives us hope amid these terrible statistics is that there is currently great momentum at both the state and federal level to change.
As Ms Morgan's report says, prevention and early intervention is key - to make sure we address issues before they become chronic or crisis.
It canvases the need for broader entry points to suicide support outside of hospitals. This might include direct referral from police or other emergency services, schools, universities, GPs and other government services, especially considering a lack of hospital services in many rural communities and the tendency for men to present to hospital less frequently than women.
And it urges a co-ordinated focus on male suicide prevention.
That's not to say that the increasing rates of suicide among women, especially women, are not of major concern. They are and must be addressed.
But the data tells us that 75 per cent of the more than 3300 people who die by suicide each year in Australia are males.
That equates to seven men dying by suicide each and every day, with particularly high rates in older men, men in middle age, and men living in rural and remote areas.
And when it comes to rural and regional supports, we need to ensure that we have the right supports and enough people with the right skills available.
That's a challenge, as so many rural communities know.
But in Victoria, we are luckily on the brink of large-scale Victorian government reforms that will see comprehensive mental health treatment, care and support delivered to those who need them as close as possible to people's own communities.
As the independent peak body for mental health, Mental Health Victoria will work tirelessly to ensure these new services are designed and delivered with people with lived experience of mental health issues, their families and carers and those with local knowledge and understanding.
Because we must support people where they are and when they experience distress. And soon.
Angus Clelland is chief executive of Mental Health Victoria.
- If you or someone you know needs support, help is available: 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732: http://1800respect.org.au; Lifeline http://lifeline.org.au: 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service: http://suicidecallbackservice.org.au 1300 659 467; Beyondblue: http://beyondblue.org.au: 1300 22 4636