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Mental health and suicide were never far removed from my childhood.
Growing up in a remote farming community 4.5 hours from Perth, Western Australia, meant two things:
Feelings and displays of emotion were met with responses like “toughen up”, “you’ll be right mate”, or “cheer up”.
I grew up in an environment that told myself and those around me to suppress our emotions and deal with our feelings internally. So when someone died by suicide, it was a shock.
I remember hearing comments like, “they always seemed so happy though?” or “they never mentioned anything was wrong”.
Fast forward to today and I am a 26 year adult with some life experience and still a lot more to learn!
But I can look back on my past and realise that mental health and suicide were dealt with in the wrong way. I know the tide is slowly changing.
People are waking up to the fact that more interventions and support measures are needed to combat the mental health challenges found in rural and remote communities. That we need to destigmatise mental health and suicide, learn to speak up, and have available access to support when needed.
My children will grow up in a different world, but 9 people are still dying every day in Australia by suicide and farmers are still one of the most at risk groups.
There is a long way to go, and I hope I can play a role in contributing to this change.