Talk it through

Posted on 9th September 2019

Lifeline WA’s mission is to prevent suicide, support people in crisis and create opportunities for emotional wellbeing. Drs Christine Pears, Don Rechichi and Clive Moody are all retired ADAWA member dentists who now volunteer their time as Lifeline Telephone Crisis Supporters.

“Like all dentists, I spent my life looking after people,” Clive says. “When I retired, I wanted to find something to help others. I was also concerned with the high rate of male suicide. For me, this has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done.”

“We spent our whole professional lives solving problems,” Christine adds. “After necessary introductions, we would ask a new patient ‘How may we help you?’. We would then carry out the necessary examination and aim to come up with a solution or range of possible solutions. With Lifeline, we have had to un-train, in a way. We are no longer problem solvers. Our main role is to actively listen non-judgementally and with empathy and to try to help the caller find their own solution.”

According to Christine, there is a misconception that Lifeline calls are mainly from people who are having thoughts of suicide. The fact is, however, that only 1 in 10 calls to Lifeline are of this nature.

“One of the most common reasons for calling is social disconnection,” she says. “Loneliness in our society is massive and a lot of people often just need to talk to someone. Simplistically, a problem shared is a problem halved.”

As former dentists, Christine, Don and Clive understand the unique pressures of the profession, as well as the reluctance many dentists may feel in opening up and admitting their struggles.

“Professional pride can force people to hide things from their peers,” Don says. “However, to me, talking to other dentists who you can trust about what is worrying you in your life and in your practice is important.

“And if you can’t talk to your peers, then talking to a support service such as Lifeline can also be helpful.”

“Of course, you can be lonely in a crowd,” Christine adds. “You could be a dentist who has a family, fabulous staff and amazing patients and still be lonely.”

Services such as Lifeline exist to offer anonymous support to those who need it, regardless of their “level” of crisis.

“What would be a crisis for me may not be a crisis for you,” Don says.

“If it is a problem for you, then call us,” Clive adds.

Call Lifeline WA on 13 11 14.