We have been told for many years that when a person is contemplating suicide they should seek help and talk to their friends. Unfortunately, talking has not changed anything – statistics show that suicide in on the increase. The most sensible approach is to provide a place of safety for those who threaten suicide.

White Wreath considers suicide/mental illness as a life-threatening condition where people must be hospitalised in the same way as a patient with cancer, heart disease, heart attack and stroke. All other life-threatening conditions are treated medically, with dignity and respect, and are taken very seriously by all concerned.

But not so for those who attempt suicide.

I recently experienced the dedication of the medical system when I thought I was having a heart attack. My husband rang the ambulance, which arrived within a few minutes. I was experiencing terrible pain on my left hand side. The ambulance officer tried to put me at ease and told me that I wasn’t having a heart attack, but because of the severe pain they were going to take me to hospital as a precautionary measure. I was in hospital for a few days with many tests done. All the staff, from the emergency services to doctors, nurses etc, were wonderful and treated me with the utmost respect and concern with their main intention of getting me better before releasing me.

My question is: Why aren’t people who attempt suicide treated in the same manner? For some reason we are told to talk to a suicidal person and everything will be okay. Would we do this to a person suffering a heart attack, and just talk to them and tell them we love them and everything will be alright? No. We immediately call 000 and they are rushed off to hospital, receiving the best possible medical treatment for their life-threatening condition.

White Wreath Association has been trying to raise funds for many years to build Safehaven Centres for those who threaten suicide. It has been a very difficult and long road as we are a not-for-profit organisation, do not receive any government funding, and do not advertise because of cost. We rely solely on public donations.

We must band together to raise the much-needed funds to help those who need a place of safety when they are suicidal. Safehaven Centres will be staffed by appropriate clinical personnel and provide a haven for the suicidal/mentally ill and their families/carers.

Fanita Clark