‘There is no shame in being concerned for one another’: McCormack

MENTAL health and suicide concerns in the bush have been raised in Federal Parliament by The Nationals’ Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack.

Mr McCormack’s Address-In-Reply speech following the 2013 Federal Election highlighted the challenges Riverina communities have with mental health awareness. 

"The incidence of mental illness and the high rate of suicide in regional Australia remains one of the least understood health crises facing our nation," Mr McCormack told Parliament. 

"Although the reasons why suicide is higher in rural and remote areas are not fully understood, we do know that suicide is roughly 30 per cent higher in regional and remote Australia." 

Mr McCormack used the opportunity to encourage many bush communities to talk about suicide, depression and mental illness to end the stigma associated with such conditions. 

"The fear of failure is a particularly strong motivator in the bush. It is this attitude, particularly among men, which makes it harder to identify when someone might be under more stress than normal, suffering from depression or perhaps even contemplating taking their own life," Mr McCormack said. 

"Despite widespread public awareness and education campaigns over many years, the stigma and shame associated with mental illness still exist to this day." 

"The time has come for us as a community to shine a light on this unyielding tragedy that unfolds every week in households, farms and towns across our nation. We need to be able to discuss suicide and depression without the shame and stigma." 

"My message to rural communities is that there is no shame in raising mental health issues, there is no shame in being concerned for one another and there is certainly no shame in seeking help if and when we need it." 

"Every person lost to suicide is an unnecessary and avoidable loss, and everyone has a role to play when it comes to suicide prevention." 

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Cristy Houghton