They are the 20,000 voices we will never hear again.
Twenty thousand votes never to be cast.
Twenty thousand funerals we should never have had to attend. Twenty thousand sons, husbands, lovers, fathers, mates who thought the world would be a better place without them.
They were not gunned down in war, killed by accident or consumed by incurable disease. In the decade from 2004 to 2014 we lost 19,995 Australian men – aged from innocence to 85 and beyond – to suicide.
This week the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported suicide rates have reached a 10-year high with a revised death toll of 2864 in 2014, of which 2160 were male.
For years beyondblue has referred to the seven lives lost each and every day to suicide: Now seven becomes eight, or 7.8 to be precise.
Tradies, doctors, farmers, first responders, members of our LGBTI communities, FIFOs who lost their jobs when commodity prices collapsed, the young, the old: they died because they didn't know how to ask for support when they needed it most. They could see no end to the pain they were living, other than to die.
We should all be weeping now, but we don't have time for tears. We need a revolution in the way we think about and deliver mental health care and suicide prevention across Australia.
In November, the federal government released its response to the National Mental Health Commission's review of mental health programs and services. It was a call for something new, a bold reform package that will put the individual needs of people at the centre of our response.
Not long ago, stigma and discrimination combined with a lack of understanding about anxiety and depression meant most people didn't think to get help until life reached rock bottom.
Mental health is not a "one size fits all" option to be lumped in the same basket. Intensive treatment is still necessary for severe mental illnesses, however, we have moved forward greatly in our knowledge of how to prevent people reaching this point.
Beyondblue believes prevention and early intervention are critical in making the mental health of all Australians the best it can be.
In 2013, beyondblue introduced a low-intensity mental health support program originally funded by The Movember Foundation and adapted from a successful UK model in three trial sites in Adelaide, the ACT and north-coast NSW.
It is extraordinary 40 per cent of those referrals are men. NewAccess is clearly reaching men before they develop more serious mental health problems, delivering a program that's not "touchy feely", but practical and effective in preventing them from sliding into deep depression.
An Ernst and Young evaluation of these trials found almost 70 per cent of those participating in NewAccess fully recovered.
Over time beyondblue hopes to introduce this program through the new primary health networks with the aim or freeing up high-end services for more serious mental health illnesses.
NewAccess is one idea among many that are needed in a root and branch reform of our mental health system. Another day, another eight lives lost. We can't wait any longer.
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