Communities active in Suicide Prevention

Since the late nineteenth century, ‘the use of the term community has remained to some extent associated with the hope and the wish of reviving once more the closer, warmer, more harmonious type of bonds between people vaguely attributed to past ages’ (Elias 1974, quoted by Hoggett 1997: 5).  We are more isolated now than ever before, caught up in the “busy-ness” of our lives and taking advantage of all the “time saving” technological advances now available to us!

We know that suicide is a complex and multifaceted behaviour and that fundamental prevention factors such as feelings of belonging, a sense of purpose and identity, and meaningful connections with others make a significant difference to how we deal with the difficulties often faced in life.  It makes sense then that communities can play an incredibly important role in the overall well being of its members and, in turn, suicide prevention.

Roses in the Ocean and the Queensland Mental Health Commission have worked together this year to make available a valuable resource for communities to take an active role in suicide prevention.  One of the core projects of Roses in the Ocean is community awareness events, especially around World Suicide Prevention Day, which falls on September 10th each year.

In April, a group of people came together in Brisbane from all over Queensland to a workshop introducing them to the resources, and to brainstorm ideas for how they will host a community awareness event in their local community.  These are not the only people however who can access these resources.  They are available on our website on the Host an Event page

You don’t need any special qualifications, just a passion and desire to help your community become more aware and literate about suicide and suicide prevention.  Gather a group of people together to help you, and access the resources to guide you through everything you need to host a successful event.  The team at Roses in the Ocean are ready and waiting to assist in any way we can too, we are just an email or call away!

Suicide is mostly preventable, and by starting safe conversations within your community, and making it easy for people to access and find their way to services,  you can help protect those around you.

You FEEL what you eat

We’ve all heard the adage ‘you are what you eat’, but what else might that mean? Everyone knows that eating healthy foods and exercising helps to keep our bodies in good working order and can stave off lifestyle-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. But is there more to it than that?

The fact is, as well as impacting our physical function, what we eat can influence our emotions and moods. Good nutrition can play an important role in preventing and helping one to manage feelings such as depression and anxiety. Think about the last time you ate an incredibly rich, sugar-laden donut, possibly accompanied by a cup of coffee. Chances are that by the time you finished your indulgence, your heart rate was elevated and you felt physically different, perhaps even a bit jittery. These are symptoms of anxiety that then have the capacity to influence how we respond to other environmental stimuli.

Food can also have positive effects on our mood, as the consumption of different nutrients can increase the production of chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, which can help promote feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and pleasure. There is a reason that chicken soup is a traditional cure-all when one is not feeling well – the stock in the soup helps the body produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which promotes calmness.

So next time you are feeling stressed, run-down or sad, instead of turning to that square (or block) of chocolate, or that tub of ice cream, complement your physical response with some healthier snacks – perhaps avocado and cottage cheese, a banana, or some almonds and pumpkin seeds – a little drizzle of honey or some carob can help with that hit of sweetness you might be craving, without taking things over the edge and making you feel worse.

Further reading

Bingley-Pullin, Zoe 2015, ‘Eating for mental health: mood and nutrition, what’s the link?’, http://www.zoebingleypullin.com/eating-for-mental-health-mood-and-nutrition-whats-the-link/.

Meryment, Elizabeth 2010, ‘Better your mood with food’, http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition+tips/better+your+mood+with+food,7609.

“There are no spare parts Mum”

“The world is like a machine Mum.  If you look around you, the world is like a really big machine and we’re all parts of it and everybody needs everyone else for the machine to work properly.  Sometimes if someone is annoyed or grumpy, it means they are a bit rusty.  It just means that they need some oil and in a couple days they’ll be okay again.  They’ll be working well in the machine again.  I know you don’t want me to think about this Mum, but if somebody is thinking about suicide what they need to think about is that they’re actually part of a big machine and they are really needed because, well because, there are no spare parts mum.

The machine gets new parts – that’s when babies are born, and when really old people die that makes way for the new parts . . . but there are no spare parts.  So if someone decides to take their life they really need to stop and think about how much they are actually really needed by lots of other parts around them.  No one else can be that part.”

As I rode my bike beside my ten year old son, listening to this incredible analogy, I was bursting with joy on the inside that his thought processing around this complex issue had taken a positive turn so beautifully.  I asked him if he had heard it from someone, but he answered no, that he’d just thought about it.  I recalled that he had watched (again) the movie Hugo just the previous evening in which a young boy finds a magnificent hand made mechanical robot, designed and built by his late father.  The concept must have got my own son’s cogs turning and been the foundation upon which such a mature insight was built.

I said to him,”That is so true because all of us are needed by other people and when someone is ‘rusty’ as you say, then the people around them can help them to get shiny and work again.  And if somebody leaves the machine too soon then the other parts don’t work as well any more.”

As we continued our bike ride together we kept chatting about various things before we suddenly found ourselves thrown off our bikes and sprawled across the bike path.  A trip to hospital, 3 needles and 5 stitches in my son’s chin later, we arrived home and snuggled on the couch together.  It wasn’t a nice end to what had been a beautiful morning spent together riding, but alas it will be a day we always remember!   The next day as I drove him to school I said, “You know mate, you’re a little bit rusty at the moment but I’m going to help you get all nice and shiny so you’re working again soon!”

He looked at me and smiled.

It’s moments like these that I look at my kids, and wish with all of my heart that their lives had not been touched by suicide, and at the same time, am so thankful and grateful, that we are gradually building their understanding and resilience to keep them safe after experiencing all they have in such short lives.

Bronwen (alias, Mum)