Jack Heath remembers her this way: a single mum on a disability pension. She had two darling teenage daughters, and she tried to do some extra work because that’s what we do when we have kids. We try to provide for them the best we can.
She was on a disability pension because of a diagnosis of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Yes, over the years, she’d been in and out of hospital but now she was well, she felt alive and worth something. It was at that moment that some fool of a politician started talking about lifters and leaners.
This woman never ever wanted to be classified as a leaner. That was the whole point of her efforts for her kids, for herself. Yes, she had a disability but that was not going to get in the way of her contribution, so she worked even harder. You know how when you are in a black hole, you start to focus on the smallest things. And the lifter /leaner thing really got to her. She said to Heath: “I don’t want to be a burden.”
Life began to spin out of control and she ended up in hospital again.
Worth something. That’s key, says Heath, the CEO of SANE Australia.
That feeling we have about ourselves – that we are worth something, that we can contribute, that we are not a burden – may well be the key to unlocking one of the great mysteries of modern health, why so many of us attempt suicide, or die by suicide.
News this month that rates of suicide in Australia are rising again appalled so many of us. The latest figures, from 2014, show we have the highest rate of suicide we have had in 13 years.
It’s the first time in those years that the number of deaths per 100,000 Australians has climbed to over 12. Every three hours, we lose someone to suicide. There is a steep rise among middle-aged Australians and also among young women. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported last week, the rate of suicide in women aged 15-24 jumped by 50 per cent over the same period to 6.3 per 100,000, compared to a two per cent increase for men, who accounted for 75 per cent of the 362 suicides in that age group in 2014.