The #loneliness of the #pandemic lockdowns stirred up dark feelings Melbourne-based Emily Unity had worked very hard to overcome.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
- New data shows more people are using crisis lines like Lifeline and other #mentalhealthservices
- Despite this, rates of #suicide have not increased since the start of the #COVID-19 #pandemic
- Figures also show rates of self harm for young #women and #girls on the rise
“Last year, it was the most intense period of #loneliness I had experienced,” she said.
“All my coping mechanisms I had accrued over 10 years of therapy just weren’t working anymore.”
Now 24, Emily was diagnosed with #depression and #anxiety at 13 and had her first attempt at #suicide at 14.
While traditional #mentalhealth therapy and medication brought some relief, online peer support communities showed her recovery was possible.
“For me, the catalyst was finding people who really understood what I was feeling because they had lived it,” she said.
New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare gives an insight into exactly how the #pandemic has affected the #mentalhealth of Australians like Emily.
Figures from the AIHW’s National #Suicide and Self-Harm Monitoring System show more people are using crisis lines like Lifeline and other #mentalhealthservices since the crisis began, while there has also been an increase in ambulance attendances for suicidal thoughts and self-harm in both NSW and Victoria.
Lifeline Chairman John Brogden said there were more than 3,100 calls on Sunday from Australians at high risk of #suicide, in line with the average daily number during the height of the #pandemic last year.
“It is OK not to be OK, but please reach out for help, don’t suffer in silence, whether it’s ringing your friend, GP, counsellor or #psychologist, whether it’s ringing organizations like Lifeline, there has been a phenomenal increase in our calls,” he said.
However, despite experts warning the crisis could result in more people taking their own lives, data from #suicide registers in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales shows that has not happened, even with key risk factors like unemployment worsening since the start of the #pandemic.
The AIHW report said the stability of #suicide figures could be partly attributed to the impact of both the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme and JobSeeker supplement, given the association between the risk of dying by #suicide and poorer socioeconomic outcomes.
However, the report noted modelling by the Australian National University suggesting the “protective impact” of the government’s income-boosting programs on housing #stress and poverty had been reduced since the supplements were changed.
Rates of self-harm highest among young #women
Data on ambulance attendances included one month per quarter snapshots from New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT from 2018 to 2020.
In those states and territories, ambulances attended a total of around 22,400 incidents involving #suicideattempts or thoughts during the months of March, June, September and December of 2020.
And while higher rates of deaths by suicides were seen in #men, the rates of ambulance attendances for #suicideattempts and intentional self-injury were higher for #women.
More ambulances were called for young #women aged 15-19 for self-harm, #suicidalideation and #suicideattempts than for any other age group.
The data also revealed from 2008 to 2020, the rate of self-harm hospitalization in #girls aged 14 and younger doubled, peaking in 2016-17, prior to the #pandemic.
AIHW deputy CEO Matthew James said young #women aged 18-24 also had the largest proportion of high or very high levels of psychological distress of any age group.
“We were seeing an upward trend there prior to #COVID,” he said.
“In the US in particular there is concern about rising levels of anxiety among young females.”
National #MentalHealth Commission CEO Christine Morgan said the figures were worrying.
“I think we all have to acknowledge it is concerning when we see those increased rates continuing for psychological distress, for self-harm, for #suicide attempts,” she said.
“It is certainly something that, across the sector, our colleagues are working towards better understanding.”
If you need support, please reach out
Ms Morgan said it was important to remember the figures released represented real situations of significant distress.
“For many, this data will be difficult to receive and we remind anyone needing support to please reach out to someone you trust, your GP or the support services available,’ she said.
Emily Unity now works as a lived experience peer worker at Orygen #Youth #MentalHealth and said seeking support from others who could relate to her has been very important during the crisis.
“It was very difficult last year. I had to be kind to myself and to reach out to people who were experiencing similar things to me when I couldn’t see people in real life,” she said.
“We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm and sharing that storm with other people was a big motivator for me.”