Lennox, we need to get uncomfortable for a few moments and discuss youth suicide. For the second time in the short space of twelve months we have lost another young person in our community to suicide. Our iconic Point has become the last bastion of hopelessness for our young people. Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst young people in Australia. Just writing these words saddens me as a mother and a member of this community and citizen of Australia.
Young people in regional Australia are two times more likely to end their life to suicide. These statistics are harrowing and almost defy belief. Yet, the numbers have proven very real within our regional coastal village. Unfortunately, they represent REAL young people’s lives, of souls who may have been suffering so greatly that the only way they believed they could end their suffering was to end their precious short life. The impact of these deaths ripples through homes, schools, communities and leaves the loved ones left behind feeling responsible, inadequate and blaming themselves for not seeing the warning signs.
So, what can we do as a community to lessen the number of young people affected by suicide? How can we educate and get young people talking about their mental health? I wish I had all the answers to these burning questions. One thing I do know is, as community we need to start a conversation with our young people. We need to listen to their fears, their troubles and their feeling of disconnection. We need to find a way to connect with them, to hold space for them and to lean into their world for a moment so we can understand the pressures of what is like to be young in a world with mounting expectation, the era of social media, increased family pressure and a global pandemic.
As adults we need to be truly present so our young feel safe enough to speak their fears, concerns, worries and true feelings. Sit with no distractions, make real eye contact and start a simple conversation. ‘What is going on for you at the moment?. How are you feeling about thing in your life?’ Such small moments may be all it takes to save a young person’s life.