by Australia Counselling founder, Clinton Power

The tragic death of Charlotte Dawson this week has highlighted how fragile life can be for someone that battles depression.

Charlotte Dawson was a well regarded Australian television personality and former model.

She was also outspoken on social media and had been on the receiving end of attacks from internet trolls, which led her to be hospitalised for depression in 2012.

The tragedy here is suicide doesn’t have to be the answer to depression, though sadly it’s often the option that’s chosen.

The stats on Australian suicide

The most recent Australian data (ABS, Causes of Death, 2009) reports deaths due to suicide at 2,132 per annum. That equates to 6 deaths by suicide a day, or one every four hours.

However, it’s widely understood this is under-reported and the figure is closer to 2,500 people a year.

The shocking news is more people die from suicide in Australia than in road related transport deaths or from skin cancer.

And for every completed suicide it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt, which equates to 180 attempts a day, or one every 10 minutes.

These are horrifying statistics that all Australian’s should be concerned about.

Suicide is a response to immense emotional pain

Suicide is often a response to immense and overwhelming pain and suffering.

While it’s hard for many people to understand why someone would want to end their life, for someone who is in pain and can see no way out, suicide becomes a logical option to escape the pain, because they have lost hope and perspective that their feelings could change.

This seems to be the case with Charlotte Dawson, who was honest and upfront with friends and the media about her battles with her demons.

What are the options for someone contemplating suicide?

It can sometimes be confusing to know what to do and how to cope with your feelings, but it’s important to know that help is available.

Lifeline, the 24 hour crisis hotline suggests the following options:

  • Contact Lifeline (available 24/7) for free telephone counselling and support on 131 114
  • Talk to someone you trust – you don’t have to go through this alone. Tell them how you feel – and that you are thinking of suicide. Ask them to help you keep safe.
  • Get help and support to stay alive – contact a helpline, your GP, a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist, a hospital emergency department, minister, teacher or anyone you trust to keep you safe.
  • If life is in danger – call emergency services 000

How to deal with depression

Perhaps you’re not at the point of suicide or considering harming yourself, but you know that you’re feeling down.

You may be suffering from depression if you notice any of the following over a period of time:

  • Persistent pessimism, sadness and low moods
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Lack of pleasure or interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • A hard time focusing and difficulty with memory
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to have a good night’s sleep
  • An increase or decrease in weight
  • Lack of energy, fatigue and exhaustion
  • Irritability, agitation, and anxious feelings
  • Thoughts of death, suicide, harming yourself or others
  • Digestive problems, stomachaches or headaches
  • A sudden loss in libido, or increase in sexual activity

The most important thing is if you recognise any of these symptoms within yourself, you don’t necessarily need a professional diagnosis. It’s ok to book with a counsellor or therapist to start working on your issues and improve your mental health.

Counselling and therapy is a proven treatment option for depression

Counselling and psychotherapy have been proven to be highly effective for the treatment of depression. This also includes support groups for depression.

Studies show people who undertake counselling and therapy are better off than 80% of the untreated population.

Counselling and therapy works, and if you’re already taking medication or considering anti-depressants, research has shown therapy in combination with anti-depressants is much more effective than taking anti-depressants alone.

The medication may help elevate and stabilise your mood, while working with a counsellor can help you develop better skills for coping with life’s challenges.

When you come off your medication, you have better coping strategies, you’re making better decisions and feeling emotionally and physically healthy.

I often use the analogy of a broken bone. You wear a cast to allow your bone to heal, so when the plaster comes off (you come off your medication), your bone has healed and you’re ready to take on life again.

The good news is depression is very treatable and outcomes are very good from counselling and psychotherapy. Don’t suffer another day in silence. Get treatment so you can get back to living the life you were born to live.

If you are looking for a counsellor or therapist in your local area, check out our directory of counsellors, therapists and psychologists to find a qualified professional near you.
photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer (licence)

  1. Jodie Gale

    Great article Clinton. IMO, my first point of call would be a psychotherapist or counsellor who specialises in depression not the GP. The person suffering will be limited in their choice of therapist and style of therapy if they go through a GP mental health plan. I think Australia Counselling or PACFA would be my first stop. X Jodie

  2. Clinton Power

    Thanks Jodie. Yes, I agree with your point. If you’re concerned about your moods, you don’t need to see a GP as a first port of call. You can go straight to a counsellor or psychotherapist who can work with you to help you improve your mental health.

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