The suicide rate is growing at an alarming rate in Australia, and Nic Newling was almost a statistic.

The outspoken advocate for mental health and suicide prevention suffered from a mood disorder throughout high school and also lost his 17-year-old brother Christopher to suicide during this time.

Speaking last week at South Eastern Community Connect (which has been partnering with The Cadre Project to raise awareness about mental health), Nic told the story of his admission into an adolescent psychiatric ward where he was treated for almost a year, and shared his experience with Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis and suicidal ideation.

It took many years for Nic to work through the challenges of deep depression and grief over his brother’s death.

He believes Australia’s “manly” sporty culture can hold a lot of young men back from expressing their emotions and getting the help they need. He also believes many people – in the workplace and otherwise – “hide behind superficial chats” instead of talking about the deeper issues of life.

Nic counts himself fortunate to have received a great deal of support from family, friends, and professionals during his teenage years, and is now able to spend his time raising awareness of mental illness as a public speaker.

“As challenging as it’s been, my illness has built resilience in me, and has enabled me to help others. I want to see a culture of openness, love and support around mental illness develop in Australia.”

And Nic has certainly been challenging the culture through his speaking engagements at Google, Coca-Cola, and cultural events such as Vivid Ideas, Ignite Sydney, and TEDxSYDNEY.

He has also toured twice with The Sunday Telegraph for the Can We Talk forums, which are designed to connect communities with experts and encourage mental health conversations.

On top of that, he founded The Champions to help further the mission of empowering people through sharing.

Nic is proud to be involved in suicide prevention initiatives as an ambassador for R U OK?, Australia Day, Movember, and the Australian Mental Health Prize.

“Together we can all move forward when we talk, listen, share, and grow,” he says.

He encourages friends of people with a mental illness to

  1. Know your role.
  2. Ask questions without judgment.
  3. Listen first and talk later.
  4. Encourage them to seek help via Lifeline and other emergency services.
  5. Keep it confidential.
  6. Follow up with them and check how they’re going after such things as psychologist appointments.

Facts you may not know about suicide

  • Intentional self-harm is now ranked the 13th leading cause of death, moving up from 15th position in 2016 (Source: The Australian Bureau of Statistics).
  • 3,128 Australians took their own life in 2017, which represents 262 more deaths than the previous year.
  • Australia’s suicide rate is now at 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people, which is equal to 2015 as the highest recorded rate in the past 10 years.
  • Counselling service Lifeline has urged the Morrison government to set a national target to achieve a 25 per cent suicide reduction over five years.
  • The government has now allocated $36m to suicide prevention projects.
  • The Men’s Shed program is getting a $400,000 boost to help encourage men to speak about their feelings and seek assistance.
  • Lifeline received close to one million calls from Australians last year and each day, on average, helps 115 people make a 24-hour safety plan.
  • Suicide is the 10th ranked leading cause of death for males, but does not appear in the top 20 leading causes of death for females.
  • Last year there were 165 suicides of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, which was a slight increase on the 162 the year before.

To find out more about upcoming events South Eastern Community Connect is holding to raise awareness of mental illness, email us at


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