International Women’s Day: much to celebrate; much still to do

8 March 2015

Saturday night was party night celebrating International Women’s Day. This annual event is a gathering of wonderful women, generously hosted by one of my friends, who have not only made change happen but reaped the rewards of their hard fought efforts. They hail from the ‘60s, ‘70s ‘80s and beyond – women who share laughter and friendship and a great sense of community.

No doubt there have been many struggles that have been faced amongst this group, but they are a resilient bunch and know that within the group there will always be someone to whom they can turn.

There was much dancing, laughter and general frivolity so rest assured my whole evening wasn’t taken up with talk about suicide prevention. But, just as in every gathering I attend, the nature of my work opens the conversation – an important conversation.

Resilience was the topic of one conversation – in relation to young people. The question was posed as to how we help build that sense of personal inner strength in our young people so that they too can weather the trials and tribulations they will face during their lives. There was genuine concern that the material world in which we live, the layers of cottonwool we put around children to shield them from any adversity and the rapid pace of technology replacing childhood ‘play’ stifles their ability to develop personal sensors, boundaries and creative problem solving.

Another conversation – how do we reach men in the 35-50 year age group who take their lives at a time when they are at their most productive for our communities? Programs for young people stop once they reach 25 years …..what then? How can we ensure the benefits gained from the youth based programs engender that capability of resilience for men in their middle ages?

Strangely no-one asked me about women and suicide prevention. Why is this, especially among a group of women so a-tuned to improving the lives of other women both professionally and personally? Perhaps the release of our discussion paper at the end of this month on women and suicide prevention will spark debate and begin much more concerted efforts to reduce the, as yet unnoticed, upward trend we are currently seeing.

I look forward to you joining the discussion to help SPA lead policy change for future program and service planning to reduce suicides in women in Australia.

Best wishes
Sue Murray