A Silent Pandemic The Power of One
Experts are concerned that suicide rates will increase during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stephanie Dalziel of the ABC has written some eye-opening articles on this topic over the last few months. In her May 6 article she tells us that annually over 3000 die of suicide a year in Australia and that modelling suggest Covid-19 may cause up to 750 extra deaths a year if the unemployment rate reaches 11%. Also, lifeline calls have increased by 25% and Beyond Blue by 40% since before the pandemic. To bring this home in Victoria in 2019 there were 726 deaths by suicide which is two a day, whilst the covid-19 death toll so far in just over 40 in 6 months, which if extended to a year and if it was four fold the current level of deaths, it would be one death in every three days, a sobering comparison and these figures without the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on suicide rates during 2020. In 2018, in Australia of the 3,046 deaths by suicide which is 8.3 a day, of those 2,320 were males and 726 females, so three quarters of the deaths are males each year. On 5 June Kristian Silva from ABC News quotes in an article Judge John Cain the Victorian Coroner that these figures are, “staggering and really troubling… (and)…isolated people are at greater risk.” With the current Victorian Stage 3 lockdown restrictions completely banning any visits in homes, this is a recipe for disaster. Traditionally, men are less likely to access professional support for mental health issues and are more likely to turn to friends for help and this is being prevented by the current lockdown rules. Ruth Vine is the newly appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health for Australia and we need advocates at all levels and especially in this field to intervene to advise the Victorian government to reconsider the total isolation and allow at least one person to visit especially for those who live on their own. Many more lives may be lost from suicide than Covid-19 if we continue this path of total isolation in homes. Allowing, like New South Wales during their lockdown one person in a home to visit would make a huge difference to the mental health, saving more lives during this challenging time. We need strong but wise, informed and compassionate leadership like Winston Churchill encouraging us to never give in, leaders who give us hope to help us navigate these unprecedented times. As I have been on my morning walk and when I am shopping I see in the eyes of those around me fear, anxiety and depression, it is palpable. On a personal level in my life, in my darkest hour I have experienced these emotions. It was a close friend who slowly and gently walked with me out of the darkness into the light. I know that you can make it too, I have seen someone close in my life, experience deep depression and feel hopeless over a long period of time, but those around him never gave up and neither did he and his life has completely turned around with that vital support. May the “power of one” be with you too. I have some practical suggestions for increasing contact with others during the current restrictions. 1. Exercise with a friend, like walking, riding or running, it will work on two counts since you will have someone to talk to and send positive mood improving endorphins in your body. 2. Be open with your friends, self-revelations open the way to help others to open up but be respectful if they don’t want to talk about their feelings. Provide a warm and positive environment for them to talk. 3. If you are really concerned about their welfare then do not be fearful of asking them directly how they are travelling or feeling. Are you okay is okay to say. Accept if they don’t want to talk about it at least they know you care. Also, it is important to consider reaching out to the following services for direct phone contact or visit websites to read about this important topic. There are people out there both personal friends and professionals who care and want to help you through this unprecedented time of stress and uncertainty. The following organizations provide for phone access and helpful websites with information and support.
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 www.beyondblue.org.au Lifeline 13 11 44 www.lifeline.org.au Mensline 1300 789 978 mensline.org.au Lynette Heyhurst
Knox reaffirms commitment to addressing homelessness & social housing
At its July 27 meeting, Knox City Council endorsed The Regional Local Government Homelessness & Social Housing Charter 2020. The purpose of this charter is the provision of housing as the critical first step to addressing the often complex social and health needs of homeless people. The charter was determined following a forum of CEOs, senior staff, housing providers, peak bodies and State Government. The forum was initiated by Monash Council seeking to unite the 13 Councils in the east and south east, who together represent 2 million-plus residents, for urgent action on social housing. A campaign on this important issue will begin in late August, once all Councils have had the opportunity to consider and endorse the Charter. We will keep you up-to-date once the campaign commences and look forward to your support on this issue. In addition, Council has issued the following statement regarding the State Government’s announcement it will provide reusable face masks for vulnerable Victorians, to be distributed by local councils. Reusable face masks will be made available to those living with chronic conditions, people who are homeless or living in public housing and crisis accommodation, people living with a disability, people using family violence and mental health services, people using drug and alcohol services, refugees and Aboriginal people. People who are eligible to receive a mask will need to visit their local community health centre, or a local pharmacy. Knox Council will also be proactively distributing masks to vulnerable people in Knox. It is expected that the first deliveries will arrive this week. For more information about eligibility for free masks and how to get one visit the DHHS website: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/reusable-face-maskscovid- 19