Posted in Featured News , Front Page News

A Media Release from Connect Health & Community

The tragic death by suicide of her son’s two teenage classmates (in one year), prompted Connect Health & Community’s Child, Youth & Family Program Manager, Kirstie Edwards, to develop a unique suicide intervention and prevention forum aimed at destigmatising the killer that claims eight Australians every day.

In an age of previously unseen stress and pressure facing our young people, death by suicide is occurring at an alarming rate, shattering lives and communities who are left with an empty void and a life full of unanswered questions.

As a result, a suicide awareness forum, ‘Suicide. Why Talking About It Won’t Kill You’ will be held on Tuesday 11 September as part of a unique mentor program designed to help young people and their families maintain mental well being; and prevent and intervene early into experiences of mental illness and/or thoughts of suicide.

“Every day, 8 people in Australia take their own lives and for every death by suicide, there are an additional 63,000 attempts.  To me that’s 63,000 reasons to start talking openly about this preventable cause of death and help those among us who are suffering in silence until the pain gets too much,” said Ms Edwards.

“How can we begin to combat the issue of suicide if we can’t even talk openly about it?  How can we expect our young people to seek help, if they don’t feel safe to express their distress?” she asked.

Despite an 11 year career in family community services, it was not until Kirstie’s son’s peer group was shattered by the deaths by suicide of his two classmates, that she experienced first-hand the inadequacies of support and understanding for those left behind by, or even actively contemplating, the scourge of suicide.

“Our community lost two very precious young lives – but it was hushed. Not just private hushed, but closed and hidden because our community didn’t know how to give it words.  Those two young people – a daughter, a son, a brother, a sister, grandchild, nephew, niece and friend, ended their lives because it was the only foreseeable way they could see to erase the pain of life,” she said.

“I wonder if it would have been different for them if they lived in a community, a state, a country where we openly talked about suicide for what it is – a state of unashamed distress that warrants unashamed medical crisis response, treatment and ongoing community support.  The lives of our children, and anyone else under mental distress, are too precious to not try change perceptions and understanding,” she said.

Ms Edwards said the forum, ‘Suicide. Why Talking About It Won’t Kill You’ is aimed at parents and their children, and community volunteers who work with groups of young people in an effort to encourage open communication and prevent further heartbreaking deaths – and the untold ramifications experienced by communities after they are shattered by this heavily cloaked tragedy.

“If we can make people feel more comfortable talking about suicide, and reduce the stigma associated with suicide and mental health stress, we hope our young people will be better able to navigate their personal stresses and seek assistance before their pain becomes too much,” she said.

The Suicide Awareness Forum is being run by Connect Health & Community, in partnership with the Ormond Junior Football Club Youth Mentor Program ‘A Path To Follow’ (APTF) and Lifeline Counsellor, Malcom Guy.  APTF is a peer-to-peer mentoring program created to support the well being of children of all ages. The program leverages young players’ common passion for football to introduce the concept of mentoring (via coaching), build relationships within the club and community, and promoting kids’ health and well being practices. Youth support and early intervention mental health service, Headspace will also participate in the forum and have staff on hand to assist attendees.

“The program aims to support the mental wellbeing of our young people in an effort to decrease the number reaching crisis points that lead to hospitalisation and death by suicide,” Ms Edwards said.

“We hope to make the community feel more comfortable talking about suicide and give attendees the basic skills to identify, talk about and help a person displaying suicidal behaviours.”

Ms Edwards said Youth Social Workers will also be available for debriefing and support of audience members.

Event Details: ‘Suicide. Why Talking About It Won’t Kill You’

  • When: 5.30 – 7.30pm, Tuesday, 11 September
  • Where: Connect Health and Community Meeting Rooms, 2A Gardener’s Rd, Bentleigh East
  • Admission: Gold coin donation to the Mentor Program
  • Bookings: https://www.trybooking.com/XNHU

Connect Health & Community (formerly Bentleigh Bayside Community Health) is a not-for-profit community health service working to create healthy people, healthy communities.  By raising awareness and engaging discussion, Connect Health and Community hopes to reduce the stigma around suicide and mental stress in our community.

Available for interview: Ms Kirstie Edwards, Connect Health and Community

Media Enquiries:  Peter Giles, Marketing and Communications Manager: 9192 8973