I was up at Lennox Head last weekend. All the talk was about sharks. Shark talk from the lady that waxed my legs. Sharks in the bottle shop. Shark talk on the beach. Shark talk in the Thai restaurant. Shark talk in the local paper. It was all about the sharks. (I actually got a bit over it.)
It reminded me more than anything of what we are NOT talking about. But let’s finish talk about the shark thing first.
The media tells us a lot of things. There are more sightings, more people in the water, and subsequently more deaths. I’m no shark expert, but people are also saying that it is not happening more, it is just that there are more people in the water.
We hear it in the news every day. People are scared. People are talking about it.
Most of all people are ANGRY.
They want something done. The beaches to be safe. Water to be enjoyed by all.
The message I hear the most?
Somebody DO something to solve the shark problem once and for all!
Now, let’s take a look at the stats. The Australian Shark Attack File was started in 1971.
For the last 100 years, there has been 174 reported fatal attacks in Australia.
1.7 people a year it is folks.
(Give or take a few missed attacks, that is not very much. Not for all the hype.)
# Of course I would be ABSOLUTELY devastated if my loved one got eaten by a shark, and empathise with those families that this has affected.
Now let’s compare this to suicide for a minute.
In 2013, the ABS estimated 2552 Australians died by suicide.
That’s an average of 6.9 people per day. I am going to round that up to seven.
That’s 49 people a week.
More than road deaths.
More than most other things that people die from.
(Including sharks. Or overdoses. Or shootings.)
Why are we not angry about this like we are about the ‘shark’ problem?
Why is it not often talked about like the ‘refugee’ problem (which we hear about most days.)
In this ‘lucky’ country, why are we not up in arms about this?
This affects all Australians.
Every single day.
Suicide is sometimes a mental health problem but not always a mental health problem. It is a complex, bitch of an issue. A bitch and a hard one. It requires multiple interventions, there is not one solution. As Australians, we are all responsible for what is happening in our communities, the loss of hope, the loss of connectivity, the loss of the feeling that someone cares. The loss of the feeling that this life can get better. There is also a role for services, for the experts, for the professionals. But also a role for us.
Why is this rate something we accept? Why are we silent about this?
It is something we think of as someone else’s problem? Someone else will figure it out?
I would love to know your thoughts.
I realise this post has been more of a brain dump rather than answers.
People affected by this topic please seek help:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
Ps. These views are mine and do not represent those of an organisation.
Image from Pixabay.