Suicide support is out there. This is one young woman's story of how she found hope
Posted September 12, 2019 12:55:37
Brigette was in her early 20s when she became convinced that her only choice was to end her life.
“I had a lot going on and for me, in that moment, I decided that it was easier for the people in my life if I was no longer around,” she said.
“It was a solution to what I was going through. I didn’t see any other way.”
Now Brigette has opened up about her experience to help others struggling and to let them know support is available.
“I’ve made a lot of positive changes since going through this last year that I think will set me up to be stronger and cope with stuff,” Brigette said.
While in hospital, Brigette was told about The Way Back Support Service, a program established by Beyond Blue in 2014.
The organisation’s chair and former prime minister Julia Gillard said many people who attempt suicide are at high risk of trying again, and Beyond Blue found little was being done to stop that.
“Unfortunately the system was that they would often end up in the hospital emergency department,” Ms Gillard said.
“Whatever physical needs they had, physical care was being provided to them, but then they would be discharged back into the circumstances that really drove them to that level of despair without any form of support or care for their mental health.”
There are now eight sites running across New South Wales, the ACT, Queensland and Victoria, where support workers provide assistance to people for three months after they leave hospital.
“They will help the person link with those [clinical] services, they will help them stay engaged in life and life activities,” Ms Gillard said.
“They will be there to talk through problems, to be addressing their emotions and how they are feeling.”
‘I feel more prepared and able to cope’
While Brigette was in hospital, she was introduced to Zoe Ryan, a support coordinator in the ACT who works for the Woden Community Service.
“I was seeing Zoe alongside my psychologist as well,” she said.
Brigette said when she found it too hard to leave the house, she appreciated the flexibility of the program in that Ms Ryan could come around and visit her.
“I really liked that she could come to me and we could start small and when I was getting more well our goals would change, but they were always realistic,” she said.
“Eventually I was able to leave my house and we would meet in local areas and that was nice because it ticked off some of my goals [such as] leaving the house, going for a walk.”
Ms Ryan said her role depends on the person and it can include anything from liaising with other medical professionals, to meeting for a coffee at the local shops.
“The way back isn’t necessarily straightforward,” she said.
“For example they might need help filling forms in for Centrelink, we can help with transport, we can help practically with finding the nearest free yoga studio because that’s something that they identify as going to be helpful for them, we can go so far as to attend with them, to really help cement those links.”
Hope of a nationwide rollout
South Australia has just committed to rolling out the service, joining New South Wales, the ACT, Queensland and Victoria, and Ms Gillard is hopeful it will expand further.
“We are on a campaign to make sure that its available everywhere,” she said.
“Fortunately the Federal Government has stepped up with some funding to enable the extension of the service to more places.
“Some states and territories have come forward, some still need to come forward.”
Beyond Blue wants 30 sites across Australia by 2022 and is in the process of reviewing the success of the program.
Brigette believes she can “handle anything” and has praised Ms Ryan for helping her understand how to cope with problems if they arise in the future.
She married earlier this year, is now studying and is grateful that she is here to try new things and enjoy life.
“Sometimes it makes me sad to think about the stuff that I might have missed out on, but it also makes me happy that I’m experiencing them,” she said.
“I’m doing well and I hope that by sharing this stuff it could help someone else.”