SUICIDE PREVENTION

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS         (         15:37         :00         ):  I rise today to speak about World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day. There has been a significant recent focus on suicide prevention and mental health in the South Australian community in the lead-up to World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September and R U OK? Day on 11 September. World Suicide Prevention Day was launched in 2003, and the organisation R U OK? was established in 2009. I think both days, but the organisations that work towards marking those events, promote greater awareness, discussion and conversation around suicide and mental health issues.

Certainly I know from personal experience that some people I know very well, even in this place, probably feel more comfortable with asking someone, 'Are you okay?' than actually asking the question, 'Are you having suicidal thoughts?' If the R U OK? message has got to more people than the other message, the straight-out suicide message, then it is a good thing that we are developing the conversation.    

On 1 September I was pleased to speak at the Welcome to Adelaide of the R U OK? bus on its national conversation tour, and certainly that got quite a lot of publicity as it toured in and around Adelaide. I know it also had a particular welcome in the Hon. Mr Lucas' home city of Mount Gambier. On 3 September I attended, along with the Hon. Mr Ridgway, the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men's Health breakfast. In concert with the University of Adelaide some terrific work is being done in men's health, and particularly in men's mental health. The breakfast featured an excellent presentation from the former Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Jeff Kennett, chairman of beyondblue.    

On 8 September, along with my colleagues the Hon. Mr Wade and the member for Hartley in another place, and my personal assistant Stacey Caruso, I was pleased to attend the MATES in Construction breakfast here in Adelaide. As I have mentioned previously, MATES in Construction is doing terrific work in the construction and mining industry, providing suicide prevention training right across that industry, and has excellent support from industry groups, unions, superannuation bodies and a range of other groups that have an interest in that area.

On 10 September, World Suicide Prevention Day, I was pleased to attend the Wesley LifeForce memorial service at Semaphore. There were over 200 people there. It was the first one of its kind run by Wesley LifeForce in South Australia, and it was a very fitting memorial for the families who have been bereaved by suicide and for many others who work in the area. I give great thanks to those people who organised that event.    

On 11 September, I was delighted to join the Suicide Intervention Life Preservation Action Group (SILPAG) at Port Augusta for a wonderful walk through the Commercial Road business district, up to the wharfside plaza and then to the eastside foreshore, where the 100 or more people present stood on the beach on the letters 'R U OK?' We then had our photograph taken, suitably from the Joy Baluch AM Bridge.    

There are a large number of events that I think we as a community can support to get more people engaged in suicide prevention work. In closing, I would just like to indicate that this year's World Suicide Prevention Day has also marked the release of the World Health Organisation's World Suicide Report, and that the aim of all 194 member states is to reduce their suicide rates by 10 per cent by 2020.