I mean no disrespect to the memory of Dan Vickerman or the family who survives him but his death is a classic example of the way the media tip toes around the issue of mental health in some instances and tramples all over it in others.

When I first heard the news of his death I thought he had died of natural causes. The public was left to conclude that the poor man had fallen into such a pit of despair that he felt he had no other way out than to take his own life. 

I understand fully that much of this is done in order to spare his family and friends undue anguish and that is to be applauded. The media react with restraint now that the man has gone. Meanwhile, on the Gold Coast however, they were showing slightly less restraint. 

As the Courier Mail so delicately put it, Grant Hackett breaks silence, followed by an equally illuminating link, Why brothers came to blows. Why the rest of Australia needs Hackett to break his silence and tell us anything about his issues is beyond me. Leave him and his family alone to get on with what is clearly a difficult journey. This isn’t an episode of Melbourne Housewives or Keeping Up with the Kardashians. 

As for the issue of suicide, let’s be a little more blunt no how painful it may be. More Australians take their own lives annually than die in car accidents or from melanoma. Worse, the figures are increasing.

The time has come to bring this issue into the light where it can be discussed openly and honestly. The time has come to call a spade a spade. If not, we’re just going to keep reading more and more headlines like Dan Vickerman’s. 


5 thoughts on “THE WORD IS SUICIDE

  1. Sad, tragic and totally avoidable. Suicide is the permanent solution to a temporary problem. Well said and well written Mr Westgate.


  2. I think you’ll find, as a rule of thumb, they don’t publish it in the news or in police reports because they usually find a spike in copycats.


    1. Thanks for your input. I think the sad thing is that even an adolescent could see straight through the facade. Better (I think) to be a bit more open. That said, it must be sheer hell for family and friends either way.


  3. Ifan Delacroix
    With respect, there is reasonably clear evidence about the potential effects of reporting suicide in different ways. This isn’t the media pussyfooting around – it’s a well researched, well-debated, educational and collaborative approach between Mind-Frame and the media and government to decrease the chances of distress and copycat. Having said that, suicide and its ideation is something that we all need to talk about and build skills around dealing with / talking about. It’s just very clear the way to do it is not in widespread media coverage about particular cases! Please check out Mind-Frame website


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