Dorothy Ratnarajah - counsellor.
Dorothy Ratnarajah - counsellor. Alistair Brightman

Suicide rates climb on coast

A SHOCKING rise in suicide rates on the Fraser Coast has prompted local counsellors to plead for more funding so they can see more clients, more often.

Dorothy Ratnarajah from Wide Bay Women's Health says she has been counselling clients for more than 12 years and has never seen so many people in crisis as she has in the past months.

Ms Ratnarajah said there were 42 people currently waiting to see a counsellor in her office alone and believes that if something is not done soon, the problem will only get worse.

“I have never felt the pressure as much as I have the in last 12 months,” she said.

“There are basically no appointments left between now and November.”

This year long-standing counselling service Relationships Australia closed down and many local organisations suffered funding cuts.

Ms Ratnarajah said she understood that government funds had to be spread across all health services but believed mental health issues had reached crisis point.

“Unless staff just keep working out of hours we are not meeting the need,” she said.

“Too many people like single mothers and those under stress are going unsupported.”

Apart from increasing funding and services Ms Ratnarajah believes removing the stigma from mental health issues and suicide is key to combating the problem.

“The stigma associated with suicide prevents those with suicidal thoughts from seeking help,” she said.

“It also affects how the family seeks help because they are afraid people will become judgemental.”

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