Date published: 
10 September 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

On Tuesday, Lifeline received more calls than ever before in its 57-year history - 3326 people reached out for help. Since March the organisation has received a call every 30 seconds. Today on World Suicide Prevention and R U OK? Day we're being encouraged to check in on family and friends. And we are joined now by Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, Dr Ruth Vine, from Melbourne. Ruth, good morning to you.

RUTH VINE:

Good morning.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

These figures are just- I- there's just no words, this is out of control now. What action is being taken to support Australians who are struggling right now? So many Australians struggling right now?

RUTH VINE:

Indeed, and can I first just comment on those figures which, as you say, are truly mind blowing away. But, but what's important, I think, is a couple of things. The increase in calls certainly reflects an increased level in distress, and in people experiencing a need to reach out. It is also evidence that people are reaching out, and I think it's important to note that one of the earlier things that happened at both- at all levels of government was to bolster the capacity of helplines like Lifeline, BeyondBlue, Kids Helpline and others to bolster the capacity so when people did reach out they were- they did- the call was answered…

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes.

RUTH VINE:

… there was someone with a supportive ear at the other end. So I think that you know, clearly that's one small element of what is being put in place in this very challenging time. And you mentioned that this is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I think we all know that suicide is a very complex and multifactorial thing, and that in- efforts to minimise and prevent suicide have to be at multiple levels - and during this pandemic we've seen that and I'd be very happy to talk about that in more detail.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes. We'll have to do that another day when we've got time- more time, Ruth. But you know, there's that old saying, everybody is fighting a battle that you know nothing about - you know, to go easy on other people. On a day like this where you are being urged to ask R U OK?, what should you ask are they okay, what should you do if they are not okay? How do you help people when sometimes you can't help yourself?

RUTH VINE:

Indeed. And look, the first thing I think is this year's tag line to R U OK?, is: there is more to say. And so, one of the really important things about asking- checking in with someone, asking them if they're okay is to make sure that you yourself have the time to listen; that you're in a space where you can consider what they are saying; be empathetic; and, offer that hope and direction for the future. Because what you can do of course is let that person express their feelings, and join with them in things that might be of help - little things like structuring your day, or doing things that give you pleasure. Or bigger things like ensuring your connection with others and reaching out to help both through the things we have discussed, but also through more formal channels such as your general practitioner, and better access counsellor, or even in dire circumstances when it's very urgent, going to acute medical services and mental health services.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Well I'll tell you what, the people at Lifeline are angels - thank God for them.

RUTH VINE:

Yes.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Dr Ruth Vine, we will keep talk about this because this is nowhere near over, we've got a long way to go here. And I think if the bushfires were bad enough - there is enough people in trauma there - now, whack on a pandemic and we are in big strife, a lot of people. Ruth Vine, thank you for your time. We'll talk you again soon, I promise.

RUTH VINE:

My pleasure, thank you.

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