While COVID has increased the level of mental health issues in the community, the record numbers of Australians actually calling crisis lines and suicide prevention services is being seen as a "silver lining" that people are willing to reach out and seek help.
Lifeline, Kids Helpline and other crisis and suicide prevention hotlines have been fielding thousands of calls a day from people struggling with their mental health in lockdown and isolation.
Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nieves Murray said young people were seeking help at twice the rate of previous generations thanks to raising awareness around support for mental health and reducing stigma.
"Creating hope through action is an important part of World Suicide Prevention Day and every other day of the year," Ms Murray said.
Suicide is a tragic and complex issue, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. #WSPD2021— Black Dog Institute (@blackdoginst) September 10, 2021
Here are some of the ways we're supporting long-term change to help individuals, families, friends, communities and workplaces with this multifaceted problem. #BeTheLight
Suicide Prevention Australia released its second annual State of the Nation in Suicide Prevention report which showed 84 per cent of suicide prevention services and workers experienced increased demand in the 12 months to August 2021, on top of a 78 per cent increase on the same period the previous year - taking in the full period since COVID started impacting Australia.
Young people in particular were more open about suicide concerns, with two in five of those aged 18 to 34 having conversations about suicide or seeking help, twice the rate of their parents' generations.
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists president and Victoria's deputy chief psychiatrist Associate Professor Vinay Lakra said there was a significant shortage of psychiatrists across the country, and addressing workforce shortages and improving funding would help.
"This (shortage) has only been further exacerbated by the surge in mental health demand during COVID-19, with wait times as long as nine months," he said.
"It is important that we continue to monitor the situation and continue to enhance and improve service provision to address the inequity within the system and provide services to those who need it, when and where they need it."
The Black Dog Institute is trying to reach the 50 to 60 per cent of people who die from suicide who have not received help from mental health professionals before their death by creating a "disruptive" new support option.
They are calling on people who have experienced suicidal thoughts or made an attempt, but who are not linked to mental health services or care, to be part of the Under the Radar project.
"Researchers globally inherently know very little about this 'Under the Radar' group, as they are not seeking the care of a GP or other mental health professional and are slipping through the cracks," said Black Dog Institute chief scientist Professor Helen Christensen.
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"We need a disruptive solution and a better understanding of those who fall under the radar, as Australia's existing clinical services, programs and interventions are clearly not meeting the needs of this vulnerable population.
"The first step in designing a pathway for support is to understand those who have experienced these suicidal thoughts and not received help."
The project invites this group to take part in a survey, or an interview, with the aim of recruiting 450 people.
- If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
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