Conexus Financial’s Suicide Prevention in Financial Services evening raised more than $21,000 for Lifeline.
The evening was organised in memory of David Adiseshan – a financial services industry figurehead – and hosted at Perpetual’s office in Sydney.
Adiseshan took his own life on October 23, 2015, and was one of 3000 suicides in Australia last year. It is the largest cause of death of people aged 15-44, with men accounting for three-quarters of the number.
According to Lifeline, for every death by suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to end their lives. The problem is particularly prevalent in financial services with studies in the US discovering that those working in the sector are 40 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
While data is not currently available for Australia, anecdotally, the construction, agricultural and finance industries are those with the highest rates of suicide, with Adiseshan’s widow, Liz Hasting, observing these were all places where men are required to be stoic.
In an eloquent, vulnerable and nuanced speech, Hasting said that she was “blessed to love him” and gave the advice “to pick up the phone and contact Lifeline on behalf of a loved one”, as they may not do it themselves. Ian Webber, Adiseshan’s best man, spoke of a highly capable man with a beaming smile, and that he wished he could have seen some sign of what Adiseshan was thinking.
Psychologists Dr Laura Kirby and Dr Chris Stevens said those struggling often exhibited a change to their baseline behaviour, and it was, potentially, at work that this change was most visible.
They added that if you suspected someone was feeling suicidal it was vital to have a conversation. In the conversation it was essential to ask directly if they were suicidal and to listen to them.
“I want to dispel a myth,” said Kirby. “You are not going to put the idea of suicide in their head by asking. Everyone is already aware of it.”
If someone is suicidal, the best thing to do is to stay with them and get help, whether it is Lifeline or the emergency services, which are both trained for the situation.
Margo Lydon, chief executive of SuperFriend, said one of the most effective things financial services can do as an industry is to train all staff about mental health, and how to give and get support to colleagues.
Currently, a lack of funding means that 140,000 calls per year to Lifeline go unanswered, said the chair of Lifeline, John Brogden AO.
If you would like to support Lifeline’s work, you can click here to donate.
If you are seeking support or information about suicide, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.