A qualified social worker for over 20 years, I have worked with the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our community. Helping those who have suicidal ideation, have attempted suicide, and who are bereaved or touched by suicide in some way, has been a major part of my work. Suicide awareness and prevention have been a focus in my personal goals in my workplace over the past three years, where I have delivered a great amount of training on suicide awareness and prevention, and presented as conferences on the topic.
My personal experience of suicide began when I was aged 15 and attempted to take my own life. I never told anyone at the time. I was a victim of family violence and coercive control by a parent during my childhood and this treatment continued into my young adulthood until I finally escaped from the abusive relationship. Unfortunately, the impact the long-term family violence had on me was profound; I was diagnosed initially with Post-Natal Depression which graduated to Major Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder. I overcame an addiction which was a maladaptive attempt to cope with my struggles. Eventually, I attempted suicide once again in my life. This time I was hospitalised, however the aftercare was limited and I experienced significant discrimination and stigma from the system and those closest to me.
Overcoming an extremely adverse time in my life, and using my personal experience as a strength and a way to help others, has propelled me forward. I very much look forward to continuing to share my lived experience in the hope that it helps others but also may help to make changes to our culture and systems which still come from an approach of judgement and misunderstanding in dealing with suicide.