Members of Parliament unite for common cause

12 September 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: SBS News

Members of Parliament met with Suicide Prevention Australia Members today at a World Suicide Prevention Day/R U OK?Day Breakfast hosted by Parliamentary Friends Group for Suicide Prevention. As well as several speeches about the importance of talking about suicide and asking R U OK?, Associate Professor Phil Batterham from Australia National University presented findings from a recent national survey on Australian attitudes to suicide and knowledge about its prevention. Read our media release on the survey findings here and an article on the breakfast here.   

Below are the powerful words National Lived Experience Network representative, Hayley Purdon, who moved a vote of thanks to all this morning, shared with us:

"Thank you all so much for being here for such a thought provoking and essential discussion. I would like to move a vote of thanks for those who have made this morning so special:

  • Dr Mike Kelly and Andrew Wallace, Member for Fisher on behalf of Mr Julian Leeser, co-Chairs of the Friends Group
  • The members of the Friends Group who able to join us today
  • SPA Members
  • International Association for Suicide Prevention for their support of the event.

"​I would also like to send a special and very warm thank you to this morning’s speakers:

  • The Prime Minister, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull,  Leader of the Opposition The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Minister Greg Hunt MP and Julie Collins MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health
  • Associate Professor Phil Batterham who analysed and presented the survey data on the negative attitudes and behaviours that create barriers for vulnerable individuals to get the help they need
  • Mr Mike Connaghan, Chair of R U OK?. His RU OK? team has travelled more than 14,000 km around Australia in the conversation convoy sharing messages of support and assistance to individuals and communities along the way.

"This morning’s discussion is of particular relevance to me. I am here today because I have a lived experience of suicide. Nine years ago I attempted to take my life and not knowing how to start a conversation about what I was feeling was a massive factor which led to that event. This morning we have heard a lot about stigma and this word gets thrown around a lot in the suicide prevention space. In the words of my friend Mic Eales, let's call it what it is. This stigma is the negative attitudes and beliefs towards those touched by suicide.

"Being involved in the sector I am privileged by being surrounded by wonderful people who understand suicide and respond without judgement. But this isn’t universal, as we heard this morning. Recently I found myself supporting someone I love in the emergency department of a hospital, following a suicide attempt. The treating doctor was joking about my partner and basically told him to “man up” and drink the horrible medicine that he needed to save his body. My partner was anxious and couldn't cope with the way this doctor was treating him and would have left the hospital without treatment if I hadn’t been there to stand up for him and tell the doctor to walk away.

"The story isn’t all bad. Following discharge, my partner spoke to an incredible mental health nurse understood and listened. She helped him turn his life around. He is now doing very well and is so thankful that he didn't die in his moment of crisis.

"So let's be the mental health nurse. Lets ask “R U OK?",  hear the answer without judgement and really take a minute to save a life."