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The message of suicide
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This is a conversation with Jesse about suicide. Jesse shares his own experiences of suicidality and offers different ways we can have more compassionate conversations about it. We think about suicide as a natural physiological response to distress that contains a message for the individual and those around them. We explore some of the misunderstandings around suicide, the importance of language and allowing people time and space to process and heal.

Jesse works at LifeConnect who offer suicide awareness training for the community. To get in touch, head to their website https://www.neaminational.org.au/services/lifeconnect/ or email them at lifeconnect@neaminational.org.au

Come and listen with:

Lucy (She/Her) – A big fan of pickleball, ice cream and storytelling

Rachel (She/Her) – Social Worker, Dialogical Practitioner, mad footy fan and wildly passionate about transforming the culture of mental health services to be person-led and human rights informed.

Incredible artwork @sharleencu_art


EPISODE TRANSCRIPT – The message of suicide

[00:00:01] Lucy: This podcast has conversations around different mental health experiences that may be distressing for some people. If that doesn’t feel like something you want to explore today, you might want to visit another podcast and come back to us another time.

[00:00:14] Rachel: discovery college acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to the elders, past and present. They have never ceded sovereignty.

[00:00:32] Lucy: In this podcast, we share stories that help us learn from each other, connect us and inspire growth. We want to acknowledge that this way of being, of coming together to share knowledge and stories, is a tradition that has already existed on this land for hundreds of thousands of years as a part of the culture of First Nations people.

[00:00:51] Rachel: discovery college acknowledges the views shared in this podcast are about mental health experiences, but are not a substitute for professional mental health advice and support. The views in this podcast are not the views of Alfred Health, but are the views of the individuals we’ve had conversations with.

[00:01:07] Lucy: The stories we share on this podcast aren’t just stories, but memories of the people who have bravely shared their experiences with us. Remember to take care of yourself as you listen, as well as to take care of the stories that you hear.

[00:01:33] Rachel: Extremely Human is a conversation about the profound experience of extreme states. When we speak about extreme states, we want to explore a more humanistic way to understand people’s experiences that aren’t always shared by others.

[00:01:47] Lucy: Each extreme state holds different meaning for each person, including those related to psychosis, depression, grief and addiction. As we chat with a variety of humans, we explore the important question how can we respond to distress with greater compassion and humanity?

[00:02:17] Rachel: This is a conversation with Jesse about suicide. Jesse shares his own experiences of suicidality and offers different ways we can have more compassionate conversations about it. We think about suicide as a natural physiological response to distress that can contain a message for an individual. We explore some of the misunderstandings around suicide, the importance of language, and allowing people time and space to process and heal.

Hello Jesse, welcome.

[00:02:46] Jesse: Thanks for having me.

[00:02:47] Rachel: Yeah, you’re welcome. We’re really excited about our chat today. Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and maybe what brought you here to the episode?

[00:02:55] Jesse: Yeah, for sure. I work for a service with Neami National, which is a mental health. Our service is called Life Connect and we’re a suicide awareness service. So we give trainings and things to clinicians and mental health workers and just general community sometimes as well. I’m a lived, experienced practitioner there, so I have a lived experience of suicidality. We’re actually a whole lived experience team at the moment. You know, we’ve got people who might be bereaved by suicide, people who’ve had attempts, and people who have supported family members through that experience as well. So we get a really good, vast knowledge and input into our content and what we talk about as well in that way. So. Yeah.

[00:03:38] Rachel: Wow, what important work you’re doing.

[00:03:40] Jesse: Yeah, it’s good. It feels nice to do.

[00:03:44] Rachel: I know you’ve listened to some of the episodes, so you know that we ask this question at the start of every episode. Have you got a story that you can share about a disproportionate reaction that you or someone else you know might have or have had?

[00:03:58] Jesse: Yeah, well, yeah, I was going to talk about something I do or that I just have that goes on for me that I can’t get my head around because it doesn’t make logical sense to me and it’s just a part of my life that I have to live with. But that’s like. I’m just ridiculously scared of wasps.

[00:04:15] Lucy: Oh yeah, fair enough.

[00:04:17] Rachel: They are scary.

[00:04:19] Lucy: I’ve heard that they track you.

[00:04:20] Jesse: That’s what it feels like.

[00:04:22] Rachel: Is that correct,  do they track you?

[00:04:24] Jesse: That’s my experience.

[00:04:24] Lucy: That’s probably something I got told when I was like twelve and it’s just stuck for the rest of my life.

[00:04:29] Rachel: But I think I’ve just adopted Jesse’s disproportionate reaction.

[00:04:34] Jesse: Sorry. So, yeah, just whenever there’s a wasp around, I’m running away, I’m squealing. I’m just doing all that kind of stuff. That’s pretty embarrassing for a full grown person. The other thing is I’ve been stung by wasps and it’s not that bad. Like, it hurts, but it’s not like debilitating or anything. It’s like, I don’t. And it didn’t help. I was just like, nah, I still feel the same way. Yeah. It wasn’t exposure therapy or whatever.

[00:04:58] Lucy: Yeah.

[00:04:58] Rachel: See, it’s a good example of disproportionate being very subjective.

[00:05:04] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:05:04] Rachel: Because to me that seems pretty proportionate.

[00:05:07] Jesse: Oh, really?

[00:05:08] Rachel: Running away in screaming.

[00:05:09] Jesse: I don’t think the teasing makes it feel disproportionately.

[00:05:12] Rachel: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Thanks for sharing.

[00:05:18] Lucy: We’re talking about extreme states. We wanted to ask what extreme states meant for you in the context of your work and your experiences.

[00:05:26] Jesse: Yeah, it’s a really interesting question. I really like the question to begin with. It raised a lot of kind of conflicting thoughts for me. As well. When I’m talking about, like, the work that me and the team that I’m in do around suicidality, it definitely is an extreme state and a really distressing place to be in, for sure.

There’s also something we talk to in the training as well, that it’s a… We never know quite how the word this, but it’s. It’s a. It’s a natural, like, physiological response to distress as well.

[00:06:00] Lucy: Can you say a bit more about that?

[00:06:02] Jesse: Yeah, so, like, the way that I’ve been thinking about it recently in particular is like that. It’s essentially like biological messaging kind of thing. So it’s. It’s trying to tell us something or trying to tell the individual something. And I see anxiety and depression as the same kind of thing as that. Like, these are messages that we’ve kind of labeled as disorders as well. That’s more about. Yeah, like, the pain that somebody’s feeling or the distress that they’re in. And I think suicidality falls into that camp as well. That’s where there’s a bit of conflict for me, but it’s like, it’s an extreme place to be. At the same time, we’re trying to normalize that experience and validate that experience for people. So it’s a little bit in, it’s got a foot in both camps, in a way. And that’s often what suicidality is like. It’s really gray and really, there’s a lot of nuance that you need to get into. My suicidality kind of really became more, I don’t know what the right word is, like, more intensified or whatever when I was. Cause I have, like, an anxiety disorder, but that ended up into what they call, like, panic disorder as well. So was that real intense physical sensations of fear and anxiety and that kind of stuff, and then you become afraid of the fear, and then you’re getting those same feelings and it just becomes all the time, essentially, it’s like a panic attack all the time.

So for me, my, that was kind of the extreme state that kind of more caused that intensification of suicidality. Yeah. Suicidality can kind of come about from a lot of different angles and factors and things. But, yeah, for me, it was that real, you know, I just can’t take these sensations anymore. Like, it was like a real escape kind of thing.

[00:07:55] Lucy: Yeah.

[00:07:56] Jesse: Again, yeah, it’s quite complex and has a lot of different sides to it.

[00:08:01] Lucy: What do you think is some of the things people get wrong about suicidality?

[00:08:07] Jesse: Well, they get wrong. So there’s often a lot of, I guess, fear from the person who’s in that more supporting role as well. There’s a lot of discomfort and it’s like a scary, uncomfortable thing to talk about. Like, we’re never saying that’s not the case. Like, that fear and discomfort that comes up from that person who’s in that supporting position, I think is felt by the other person who maybe is in high distress and needs that help. So, you know, we’re kind of in our trainings that we do and things, we’re kind of just asking people to start looking at that essentially within themselves.

As a clinical worker, as a family member, as a parent, as a whatever you are, to whoever. It’s just something that we notice a lot. And we think it plays into the, you know, the stigma and the taboos that are around suicide as well, in terms of it’s just not talked about very comfortably by anybody, and that’s understandable. But then we’re also saying we do need to work through that, though, because people are losing their lives, obviously, so. And what we find is pretty much every room that we’re in there is lived experience as well, you know, of people have been through it because it’s so common. You know, there’s the, like nine people a day statistic that.

[00:09:24] Lucy: Is that just in Australia?

[00:09:26] Jesse: Yeah, that’s the Australian statistics. Yeah. So, you know, and I think. I think it’s like maybe for every person who does die by suicide, there’s like maybe 200 other people who were affected by that as well. So we’re talking about huge numbers of people and then people who would have overlap and things. So we’re really trying to be mindful of that when we go in and talk about this stuff as well because, yeah, people have often had experiences around suicide themselves. It’s just really that wrapping your arms around people and just, just trying to understand everybody’s experiences as well.

[00:10:00] Lucy: It just shows how important the work is that you’re doing. And, you know, you’re probably part of a bit of a changing culture as well, of starting these conversations.

[00:10:11] Jesse: Yeah, we hope so. I guess one of the key things that we try and talk about is that, like, at a bare minimum, like, just try and have a conversation still. You know, there’s those myths around. You might put the idea in somebody’s head and all this kind of stuff. It’s like, we know that’s not true and we know it’s protective to have conversations. So at the very least, like, let’s just try and do that.

[00:10:33] Rachel: Are there other myths that you try to bust or?

[00:10:36] Jesse: Yeah, there are a little bit. I think a big one is the, like, suicidality only comes from mental illness and probably more specifically depression when it’s often, you know, big life stresses that might, you know, cause somebody to take their life. Like, we know relationship breakdowns are a big one as well. So.

[00:10:57] Rachel: Financial problems.

[00:10:58] Jesse: Yeah, financial problems, yeah. So it’s just those external stresses are often actually people’s tipping points. Definitely not saying. It’s not a potential thing that can come from somebody who’s, who has a mental illness. I can talk about this without being like, like sounding like I’m fear mongering, but it just really doesn’t discriminate.

[00:11:21] Rachel: No, I don’t think you’re fear mongering.

[00:11:22] Jesse: You know, so, yeah,.

[00:11:24] Rachel: I think you’re talking about the human experience.

[00:11:25] Jesse: Yeah, it is, part of the human experience.

[00:11:26] Rachel: Yeah. And I think, you know, even just mental health difficulties don’t pay enough attention to those things.

[00:11:34] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:11:34] Rachel: Relationship breakdown or illness or finance. You know, there’s the social determinants of well being or ill health.

[00:11:43] Jesse: That’s my experience as well, of, like, my lived experience is very much of, you know, I was like, just like a middle class young dude who just, I thought everything was fine. And again, it’s just that lack of education thing. Like, I definitely didn’t know about suicidality or anything like that. Like, not. And you know what it is, but you don’t know the experiences that people have and the differing experiences and where it can come from and that kind of stuff.

[00:12:11] Lucy: I was wondering what it’s given you. Being a peer worker of someone who’s had lived experience and now working with people who are going through that, is that been a big change in your life?

[00:12:24] Jesse: It does change what you’ve been through. Well, for me, I should say, for me, it’s changed what I’ve been through into something that’s a lot more like, I’ve gotten a lot of purpose out of it now because after I, I was in hospital and then I just spent like, four years, like, my dad has a farm. I just spent four years working on his farm, just like out in the, in the hills doing that.

[00:12:49] Lucy: How was that?

[00:12:50] Jesse: So, yeah, it was good, but I didn’t like, it’s hard physical work. I didn’t like that very much, but it was really good. Like, it was a great opportunity for me to kind of just, you know, I was so dissociative through that time. It was like doing that physical work actually got me back into my body a bit and all that kind of stuff. So it was good in that way. It was just low pressure as well. Like, low pressure. I could just turn up when I wanted to.

But, yeah, it was a bit like, it felt like a huge risk or something for me to kind of go into this work in the sense of, like, it’s really hard in lived experience work. Like, you don’t know when you’re ready, you don’t know when you’re not. Like, it’s a bit. It’s pretty ambiguous of like, yeah, that thing I was talking about before, it’s like, well, am I recovered or am I still doing it? Or, like. Like, I didn’t really go back to what my life was before in a way. Like, I really eased into it. So I see, yeah, a lot of situations where people are, like, just thrown back in and I think, like, time is such a big part of that healing or recovery as well. Like, not really like that time heals all wounds kind of thing, but more like, it’s just not linear. Like, you need. You might have a spurt of like, okay, I feel like I’m getting better. And then it just stops for, like, six months and you’re like, what’s going on? I can’t. I’m stuck. The expectations around when people are back to their selves or back to work or whatever, the pressures around that are just ridiculous to me.

[00:14:26] Rachel: Sorry. It does come up a lot, you know, around the flawed-ness of the word recovery.

[00:14:31] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:14:31] Rachel: You know, because it does imply we’re going back to something.

[00:14:35] Jesse: Yeah, yeah.

[00:14:37] Rachel: Well, it’s not implying it’s what it means.

[00:14:39] Jesse: Yeah, it does.

[00:14:39] Rachel: You know, recovering a part of yourself or your life.

[00:14:43] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:14:44] Rachel: But healing’s got a different.

[00:14:46] Jesse: It does, yeah.

[00:14:47] Rachel: Different meaning to me.

[00:14:49] Jesse: Yeah. I did hear one definition of recovery that I really liked from what’s his name. It’s that trauma and addiction specialist. Gabor Mate. Yeah. He was like, yeah, recovery means to find something again. And he was talking about in the sense of, like, finding your authentic self again. So, like, the person who you’re not really putting on a facade or a mask, like, you’re just being yourself and being really accepting of yourself and compassionate towards yourself and that kind of thing.

[00:15:20] RachelOh, that makes sense.

[00:15:21] Jesse: Yeah, I like that one a bit better.

[00:15:30] Rachel: Jesse, what I’m wondering about if your thoughts around organisational or macro factors that really get in the way of people being able to respond, professionals or otherwise, with people in that kind of distress.

[00:15:46] Jesse: Yeah. I do have some thoughts on this. Firstly, I’ll say that’s how I do see it. I do see it as, like, system issues. And I don’t think people are, like, trying, like, trying to be dismissive or, like, not form a connection with somebody. I think it’s just the way that this, these systems kind of work at the moment. But my opinion is, is like, you know, things like risk assessments and all that kind of thing around, in particular around suicide, they’re just, I feel like they’re becoming a way that we try and predict somebody taking their life, and that’s impossible to do. Like, it’s. You just can’t predict that. And it just feels a bit to me like we’re kind of essentially wasting time and resources trying to get this information, to write it, like, to fill in a form and that kind of stuff. Like, I think, you know, if I came to you and I was like, I’m having a really hard time, like, you, if it was normal life, like, you wouldn’t get out of form. You know, like, it’s just not how we work as humans when we’re interacting. Like, we wouldn’t get out of form and be like, well, I have to fill this out now. Like, it just doesn’t make sense in that way, even to me. I was reading a research paper, and there was a bit of a heartbreaking statistic to me in there, which was, I think it was two thirds of people who present to ED or whatever it was, who get categorized as low risk end up taking their lives.

[00:17:13] Rachel: Right.

[00:17:14] Jesse: In my experience, when I ended up, because I was in the psych ward for, I don’t know, a week or so, and I didn’t tell anybody in there that I was suicidal. Because, like, I didn’t. I just didn’t know what would happen if I did. Essentially, it was the main fear there, you know, that I would have been in the low risk category because of, I would have said no to that question. So there’s just a lack of trust. And I think that for me, that comes down to, yeah, we are just got the clipboard form, and it just feels also medical and that kind of thing. Yeah, I do think the way that we’re doing things has a great deal of potential to cause harm, and that just doesn’t feel good enough, really, to me. You don’t need to drop everything and go to the emergency department, is what we would say. We, you know, like, you just sit there and try and hear what’s been happening for them or to them, you know, to try and get a bit of understanding also, just to let them get that off their chest. Sometimes when people get it off their chest, you know, if we’re talking about the medical model, they might go from a high risk to low risk in that conversation. So we can’t predict it in that way.

[00:18:24] Rachel: But I also wonder about, from an organizational perspective, it kind of reflects this idea that services are responsible to make sure, yeah. Someone doesn’t end their life, and, you know, and if they do, there’s a sense of responsibility or blame.

[00:18:42] Jesse: Yeah, for sure. And this can be a bit of a hard thing to say or for people to hear, but it’s like, I don’t know, like, it’s not our decision at the end of the day as well. You know, like, we do need to give people their autonomy and that kind of thing. And, you know, I don’t think this, like, the challenge of suicide is going away, away ever. You know, so we need to just, again, that kind of panicked intervention mode is really quite a, I think it’s quite a discombobulating place for the person in distress to be as well, when other people are, like, panicking around you and being like, we’ve got to do this, we got to do that. Like, you need some steady heads around you and, like, some calmness and, like, people to just listen to what you’re saying and validate it.

[00:19:30] Rachel: I guess what I’m hearing you say is presence.

[00:19:34] Jesse: Absolutely.

[00:19:35] Rachel: And connection and compassion is kind of really more important than.

[00:19:42] Jesse: It’s definitely more important for the person who’s struggling. Yeah. And I just think that should be the priority at all times basically.

[00:19:50] Lucy: I was just thinking before how we were talking about how important it is to listen to someone and let them express what they’re going through. But if you’re really worried about someone and they’re not talking, how do you approach that conversation?

[00:20:07] Jesse: Yeah, this is, this comes up a bit, this kind of thing.

It’s really tricky. It’s the answer, essentially. And I think this is really hard because it takes a lot of patience and quite a bit of trust in somebody who’s saying, I’m suicidal. You might ask, hey, are you thinking about suicide? And they might not want to talk about it. We’ve heard of people getting angry as well. Like, how dare you think that that kind of thing comes up as well. But what we hear more often than not is, you know, maybe a week, maybe a month later, they’ll.

They’ll know that you’re the person who is up for the conversation when they can have it essentially, you’ve identified yourself by asking that question as a. As a safe, caring person who wants to chat about this, you know, so it doesn’t.

That’s where I think there’s that, you know, we need to do something right now kind of thing. There definitely are situations like that, I should say, where people just need help right away, and it’s quite dire, but a lot of the time, it’s not that, actually. And there is a bit of time to work with. It doesn’t have to be so rushed. And that’s where we’ve got to put trust in somebody that they’re gonna, you know, stick around for a period of time and work on this and, you know, hopefully come back to you and be like, you know what? I am thinking about that. You know, but it might be sometime later as well.

But that’s why we’re saying, ask the question. Yeah. If you’re noticing, you know, behavioral changes or things or that kind of thing, like, go ahead and ask. Because even if they’re not up for it.

[00:21:48] Lucy: Yeah. So even if the conversation feels a bit hard or it feels a bit clumsy, it’s better to have it than not.

[00:21:54] Jesse: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:21:56] Rachel: I really liked how you just talked about trust then, because, you know, I, you know, it feels good to me. But oftentimes when you. When you hear the conversations about trust, it seems very one way. It’s expecting the person in distress to trust the person that they’re seeking help from, but it doesn’t seem two directional or bi directional. So I really liked you talking about that.

[00:22:23] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:22:24] Rachel: That it’s also about trusting that direction.

[00:22:26] Jesse: Yeah. Expecting them to get better, essentially, for themselves in particular.

You know, I think a lot of the time, there’s an expectation around people who are going through a hard time or, you know, might have repeat episodes of mental illness or in, you know, more intensified times of that, that there’s. There’s just no way they’re ever coming back or something like that. Like, it’s.

Again, it’s just not true. There’s heaps of people who live with managing suicidality on a daily basis, and then they live, you know, for a normal lifespan kind of thing. So it just doesn’t really work like that. It’s not like a. You feel suicidal and then you act on it straight away. Like, it’s not. It doesn’t work like that very often at all, actually. I think those things where we’re like, we got to fix this right away is more that person bringing in their own fears around that situation.

[00:23:21] Rachel: Mm hmm.

[00:23:22] Jesse: Yeah.

[00:23:24] Lucy: I was wondering if we could chat a little bit about some of the outdated language that we hear in terms like committed suicide and sort of why we don’t use phrases like that anymore. We don’t use language like that anymore.

[00:23:38] Jesse: Yeah. Um, for sure. I think the, you know, I think the main things that we talk about. Yeah. Are those, you know, committed suicide, and it did used to be a crime to take your life and, you know, definitely was a sin in religions and things like that. So it just has that kind of negative stigma to it around you’re. You’re a criminal or you’re a bad person. It’s like, it’s an immoral thing.

Yeah. It’s just, it’s more about thinking about where these things come from and.

[00:24:07] Lucy: Yeah.

[00:24:08] Jesse: why they might cause somebody to kind of internalize that stigma more, which, again, means they probably are less likely to reach out for help, and then the other ones are around attempts, like the successful or failed suicide attempt as well. Like, again, we’re just, just wanting to try and stay away from using language that has, like, positive or negative connotations, like just keeping it more factual to what happened. Like, just suicide attempt is fine, you know.

Yeah. Taking your own life instead of committed suicide, just really honoring that person with Just factual language around it.

[00:24:44] Rachel: Without the moral laden.

[00:24:49] Jesse: Yeah, yeah. Like, putting judgment on it, essentially.

[00:24:52] Rachel: Yeah, yeah.

[00:24:53] Lucy: We don’t really think about what we’re saying or the history of where it comes from. It’s just so embedded into our everyday language.

[00:25:00] Jesse: Yeah. And it’s in media and tv and movies and everything.

[00:25:12] Lucy: What do you think is important to know based on your own experience about suicidality?

[00:25:17] Jesse: I think it is really individual for each person, and I think that’s where I’m hoping, you know, lived experience will play a big factor in how we approach suicidality as well. Like, learning from that. I know, for me, suicidality or any kind of distress that I’m feeling, I really just need to talk about it and get it out. It’s almost like that, you know, just, Blegh, big hole, spew all that information out and all those feelings and just, yeah. Having somebody just listen and take it on and try and trying to hold space for that, like, the ambivalence that people experience with these massive feelings as well. Because, you know, when I was going through all of that really intense time, like, I wanted to escape. I wanted to get out of those feelings that I was having. But then also I was just like, I’m really afraid of dying, though, as well. You know, so it’s like those two things that they don’t really make logical sense together in a way, but we very much can experience things like that as well.

[00:26:24] Lucy: Jamie, who came on the podcast, he did, like, a reframe when he asked one of the young people he’s working with, he said, do you want life to end or life as you know it to end? And I’d never heard that before, and it kind of blew my mind. I was like, that’s such an interesting reframe.

[00:26:41] Jesse: Yeah, definitely. And that’s why, like, I don’t know. For me, yeah, it’s just so different for everybody. But for me, that kind of happening and the kind of, I don’t know, like, I got my ass handed to me and that period, it felt like I just was, like being in a psych ward. Like, you’ve kind of lost, like, in your mind, you’ve lost everything, essentially, as well. Like, I’ve lost all my livelihood. Like, I’m only allowed out of here an hour a day or whatever. Like, it’s that kind of thing. And you’re like, it’s just all over. And that ends up, for me, that ended up being the best thing that could have happened, though, because I was, you know, just. I was on a path where I was just disregarding all of this stuff or in denial, really.

So, yeah, kind of getting that experience of, like, you don’t have a choice. You have to stop and. And work on this. Like, my. You know, my bodily systems were just like, nah, we’re shutting you down.

[00:27:41] Lucy: Yeah, right.

[00:27:41] Jesse: And that ended up being so good because it’s just. My hand was forced. I had to do something about it.

[00:27:48] Lucy: That’s sort of what you meant at the beginning of. It’s a sign that you need to change.

[00:27:53] Jesse: Yeah. It’s a message about your current circumstances are not working for you. And that’s what you were just talking about. It’s like, yeah, that’s. That’s a really good way of saying it. Like, essentially, nobody really wants their life to end. It is their life as they know it. It’s their circumstances that they’re in. It’s the pain that they’re feeling. It’s these kinds of things that we are trying to get away from.

[00:28:18] Rachel: Yeah. It’s really a wish for death, is it?

[00:28:21] Jesse: Yes.

[00:28:21] Rachel: It’s much more about unable to tolerate the continued suffering. And how about people around someone in distress or experiencing suicidality? What have you learned from your own experience or in your work that they need or what helps equip them?

[00:28:38] Jesse: Well, yeah, one part of it that I’ve already talked about is definitely that just examining your, your own discomfort around the conversation, I think, is a really big part of it. But then I think also, you know, we’re very quick to, I guess, try and jump in with solutions or reassurance or all that kind of stuff. And, yeah, one of our messages is just like, try not to do that.

Like, just, again, just sit and listen. Like, you don’t have to have input. You don’t have to agree with what people are saying. Like, all of this stuff, like, just try and, yeah, practice empathy and, yeah, just the act of trying to understand where they’re coming from is really important, I think. But, like, some of the, when I was going through really hard times, like, I remember one time in particular where I was having a really intense, panicky time. And at that point we didn’t actually know what was going on with me. So it could have been something physical as well. Like I was getting light headed and blah, blah, blah. But we called an ambulance one night to come and check on me because I didn’t know what was going on. And everybody’s doing stuff and, like, trying to get that. And my friend just came, put his arm around me and just sat there and I just broke down then. And at the time, didn’t think much of it apart from that. But, like, looking back now, I’m just like, I don’t, I don’t remember much from that time. I really remember that moment for some reason. So it’s just that being there, that’s kind of it. There’s just no real formula. It’s just like, just be there as a person.

[00:30:22] Lucy: It’s been an amazing chat, Jesse, but before we let you go, did you want to tell us about how people can find life connect or.

[00:30:30] Jesse: Yeah, so we are kind of based in Heidelberg in the east of Melbourne. And we cover from, you know, all the way up to Whittlesea, down to like, Yarra Glen way as well. So we’re covering a big, big area and kind of the east of Melbourne. Neami also has other suicide prevention services and trainings around the country as well. Essentially, you can just search for life, connect, and there’s a phone number or probably emailing in is best. And yeah, you can get in touch to book us for really any purpose. Just if you want to have a training session around suicide, it doesn’t really matter who you are. You don’t have to be a mental health professional. We can do it for, you know, we can do it for carer groups. We could do it for parents, like, as we can adapt and kind of work with any group. Yeah. If you get in touch with us, we can put you on a mailing list. We have these events we call single stays, which is a funny name. But that’s really, we do the training, and anybody from any walk of life can come along. It’s just an open day for anybody to turn up to the training, so.

[00:31:38] Lucy: All right, Jesse. Well, thank you so much for coming in today.

[00:31:41] Jesse: Thanks so much for having me.

[00:31:42] Lucy: Thank you for being someone that’s willing to have hard conversations that a lot of people find very difficult to have. So, yeah, you’re doing amazing work.

[00:31:51] Jesse: Thank you. Thanks, both of you.

[00:31:58] Rachel: Wow. Luce. I have thought so much about this conversation with Jesse. You know, I’ve been in this area for a long time, and I can’t really remember over time where these kind of conversations would have been possible.

So it’s really, you know, kind of, it makes me feel good.

[00:32:17] Lucy: Yes.

[00:32:19] Rachel: That suicide is becoming less secretive or shameful or taboo and something that can be explored and that there can be a meaning for someone in their life about it.

[00:32:33] Lucy: It gave so much hope, and he reframed so many things and put to bed so many myths.

I walked away feeling like I could open up those conversations about suicide with people.

[00:32:46] Rachel: What do you think it was about the conversation that gave you more confidence? Was it about the language? Cause Jesse talked a lot about how we use language in this space.

[00:32:55] Lucy: I did love the takeaways from the language, but I think the thing that stood out for me the most was how Jesse saw suicidality as a message, a biological message that could be alerting someone that things are a bit off, and maybe something needs to change. And I think that’s what we think about sometimes when we think about something like anxiety, it’s like, oh, you’re feeling anxious. Maybe your body’s trying to alert you about something. But we don’t always see suicidality like that. And I think that just makes so much sense to me.

[00:33:31] Rachel: Yeah, you know, we talk a lot. Well, we have talked a lot. I think, about fear based practice, and that was something that came up in Jesse’s talk with us. But what more came up was courageous practice.

[00:33:45] Lucy: Yes. Also, how he was saying, sometimes you need to put trust in the individual, that they’re gonna get better for themselves.

[00:33:53] Rachel: I think courageous practice is exactly what you just described. You know, having belief and trust in an individual knows what’s best in their life and giving people the opportunity to work that out. And, you know, fear based practice means that we can’t tolerate that and we end up taking over someone’s life or intervening in the best intentions.

But, you know, it’s probably in response to the fear that we feel rather than what might be best for that person. You know, I really just am glad that there’s people, practitioners, services like Jesse out there having conversations like this.

[00:34:39] Lucy: Yes. Thank you so much for coming on, Jesse.

Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you wanted to stay in touch or learn more about discovery college, please head to our website, discovery.college

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