Is suicide is preventable? I don’t know, it is a question that does not have a simple answer. The question seems to ask for an unequivocal answer but I think the question is a dubious one, unanswerable.

Is suicide is preventable? No. Maybe. Sometimes. When the question is asked after a suicide, and no-one can say what might have made a difference…it is heartbreaking. In a wrenching documentary about youth suicide, social media, and a community’s need to speak more openly about suicide Professor McGorry states his belief that suicide is preventable.

I want to believe that suicide is preventable but the statement “suicide is preventable” is incomplete, there needs to be more to inform a community in anguish after a series of suicides. How can suicide be prevented? What is the next statement or sentence? What can I do? Is there some practical individual action or societal responsibility that might be possible?

What is the second point made after the statement about preventable? According the investigative reporter on the show “…Professor McGorry made it clear that the strategies needed for prevention were not yet in place, nor was there a clear understanding as to what was the cause.” I hear yes but not really. Isn’t that what is being said?

One mother in the television report talks about the various interventions she tried with her daughter. To me it sounds like she did everything she could and prevention was not possible.

“It was like I was walking on eggshells all the time. I didn’t know how to parent anymore. No-one seemed to be able to give me help or answers. I kind of felt like no-one else had any urgency, so I felt like, even though I was feeling anxious all the time and so worried and didn’t know what to do, I kind of thought but no-one’s in panic mode here.”

For me that statement captures, what must be a terrifying experience, living with a suicidal daughter, and no-one knew how to help, or prevent… While it is true that in some instances suicide is preventable or can be averted, that is not always true – I mean obviously, obviously not. The statement upsets me, and I start thinking about the coulds and shoulds of what I did and didn’t do – not helpful.

What Professor McGorry does say is:“So I’m not saying we’ve got all the solutions, but we can get them, but only if it’s taken seriously. And you’ve had the courage to come here today and share your stories, even though it must, because I just can’t imagine how painful it is for you to tell those stories. But thank you for doing it and hopefully you will be listened to and you will be heard and we can actually do something.”

Suicide can/could/will/may/should be preventable, there are no ready answers or solutions and I do what I can. Talking and creating a sense of community and providing support is a start.

If you, or someone you know, needs emotional support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia. Crisis counselling is available around the world.