Since releasing my book ‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day,’‘Reasons To Live One More Day, Every Day,’ back in October, I’ve come to realise something: despite all their glossy speeches, when it comes to suicide prevention, most of the media don’t give a toss!
Over the past few weeks I was told by two Coffs Harbour newspapers/magazines that unless I paid them for advertising, they weren’t interested in sharing about my book and the message of suicide.
Let that sink in.
Yep. Despite living in Coffs Harbour for over 25 years, having my own personal history of mental health issues, and putting on a free community event to bring people together and try to break down the stigma of suicide, they weren’t prepared to even give the event a share online unless I paid them.
Sadly, and somewhat ironically, at the same time that I was in Coffs Harbour to launch my book, there were at least 3 local families grieving the loss of loved ones to suicide. In the space of a week, I heard of a man from my mother’s church being found dead in a public area in Coffs Harbour, and another person who had lost 2 friends to suicide in the past fortnight.
Given that 8 Australians die from suicide every day, I find myself wondering how many others have lost their lives in our communities lately; men, women, and young people whose names we do not know, who are no longer with us, and whose family and friends are forever changed.
Just last month, in a period of one week, I heard of 3 QLD men taking their lives – one of whom, was a close friend of several of my own friends. What really shocked me though, was to discover that on the night of my Brisbane book launch, as we were discussing this very issue of suicide, a man had allegedly thrown himself from a highway overpass.
However, most people had no idea of this sad truth, as it was reported as a ‘police incident’ and most people simply thought there was a traffic jam. I understand that the media need to be careful in the way they report on suicide, in order to avoid ‘copycat’ situations, but to know that someone in our community was so broken inside that they felt the only way out was to take their life, is truly heartbreaking.
Suicide is so common, and yet it feels as though so many in our society don’t want to speak about it.
I say this, because the way that I have been treated by local media while trying to get the message of suicide prevention out to the public, has been incredibly disappointing and frustrating.
As mentioned earlier, getting my local hometown to cover my book launch was like trying to get water out of a stone!
After 4 emails and 2 phone calls to just one particular media outlet, and being told repeatedly that they could only give me ‘at best’ a paragraph (‘but no promises’), and telling me to try a different media outlet (who had given me the same spiel) the paper did eventually share something on my event.
But even then, they made it as difficult as possible for people to find out more, by refusing to link my event to the article, and instead publishing my personal email and telling people to write to me for more info.
I was also fobbed off by CHY FM, who responded to the information I gave them over the phone (after I received no reply to my email) by telling me that they have ‘strict ethical guidelines to abide by.’ Essentially, they were snubbing me because my launch was being held at Christian Community Primary (which is not only my old primary school, but also a wonderful community who are in full support of this book and all its diversity).
Despite the fact that my book is filled with diverse stories from people of differing races and sexualities, the moment I said the venue was at a christian school, they were no longer interested.
Is the topic of suicide prevention so unimportant??
Every time I contacted a local media outlet, I was treated like I was just some random woman trying to sell a weight loss product or some random book, and told that ‘unless I was a local, and the book had a local focus,’ that they couldn’t really help.
When I tried to explain that I WAS a local, and that my book contained a very well known local, I was spoken over repeatedly, and treated like an outsider simply because I moved away 6 years ago to find work.
Despite having lived in Coffs for over 25 years and coming back to my hometown to launch the book and give back to my community (with a free event), it’s obvious that I wasn’t considered a local, and therefore, no one wanted to help me get this message out.
All I can say is, THANK GOD FOR ABC Midnorth Coast/Coffs Radio!
They were the only ones to enthusiastically support me, and to show a genuine interest in talking about suicide and trying to help save more lives. Last Friday, I got to sit down with Fiona Wiley and talk about the issue of suicide, the importance of connecting with our communities, what it was like losing my dad to suicide at the age of 18, and some of the incredible people who shared their stories as part of my book.
Fiona asked some fantastic questions, and I’m grateful to be able to share the interview with you all!
Getting this message out there has been tougher than I ever expected…but onward and upward! I won’t give up.
If you’d like to support me in helping these stories of hope reach more people, please consider writing to local radio/TV stations, or organisations who you think might be interested to know more!