Letter to the Editor — World Suicide Prevention Day

Thursday, September 10 2020

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

Dear Editor

On 10 September we mark world Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day — days that remind us the difference each and every one of us can make in someone’s life.

The power of individuals to make a difference to someone’s mental health should not be underestimated and looking out for your mates who may be experiencing mental health challenges is something we can all do.

And while service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is a positive and rewarding experience, our personnel also experiencing mental health challenges.

A text, phone call or a private message on social media asking ‘are you ok?’ can make a world of difference to someone who is struggling. If the answer is ‘no, I’m not’ that’s nothing to be scared of — you don’t need all the answers and you can’t fix everything, you just need to listen.

From there, you can encourage action. Start by asking how they would like to be supported and work through with them possible management strategies and providing advice, which might include reaching out for professional help.

My message to those current and former ADF personnel who may be struggling is help is available. Please speak up and seek support, do not suffer in silence.

If you know of a veteran, or anyone, who may be struggling, please reach out to them. Look out for your mates – the cost is too high if we don’t.

All current and former ADF personnel and their families have access to free and confidential counselling and support through Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling. This life-saving support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 011 046.

Anyone with a single day of service in the ADF can access free mental health care, for life, through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Please use this support.

Darren Chester

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel

Media contacts

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820

DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au