GPs refocus on mental health

BUNDABERG general practitioners are taking a stand to prevent suicide within the community by joining forces with the Australian Medical Association Queensland in its latest campaign.

Suicide Watch was launched this week after horrific statistics showed at least one Queenslander takes their own life each day.

The initiative is designed to urge anyone having trouble seeing a way forward to see or call their GP for urgent help.

Bundaberg GP Daud Yunus, who is president of the Bundaberg and District Local Medical Association, has praised the campaign.

"I think it's fantastic," he said.

"The statistics for the next 12 months show 500 Queenslanders will take their lives from suicide."

Dr Yunus said although GPs had always played a role in suicide prevention, they were renewing their focus on the serious problem.

"It's GPs standing up and telling the community they're not alone and we're here for them, and our doors are open," he said.

"When you feel low, you feel like there's no hope or help anywhere.

"As a GP, we see lots of people who are very low."

The suicide prevention campaign is in response to concerns for the mental health of Queenslanders following last summer's floods.

"Anniversaries are always a stressful time - you click over, 'it's been a year'," Dr Yunus said.

"(Bundaberg is) an isolated community for people who have just moved here and may not have family or friends.

"When they do feel low, they don't have those support structures around them."

A recent survey of AMAQ members found 51% of doctors believed the main reason people with a mental health issue did not seek help was because they were reluctant to admit they had a problem.

"What this campaign is doing is (telling people) that we are here and we are trained," Dr Yunus said.

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