Hope arrives as Warwick at high risk of indigenous suicide
A STRONGER safety net was woven amongst the community workers of the Southern and Darling Downs this week in an effort to catch indigenous trauma before it reaches crisis point.
The life-saving workshops were held after the Primary Health Network identified Warwick was at high risk of indigenous suicide.
Indigenous members of the community face daunting health statistics suggesting they are six times more likely to die from suicide.
LivingWorks, together with funding from the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, provided free training for schools, medical agencies and community organisations to offer culturally-sensitive support to those suffering.
Lead training facilitator Wayne Williams said the goal was to create a suicide safe community.
"It's not just about educating one or two people,” he said.
"It's about building up the capacity within Warwick so the community can look out for each other and support each other.”
The unique approach to support is anchored in the deep sense of connection, according to Mr Williams.
"As an indigenous man myself, I find the biggest difference is how we connect with that person with thoughts of suicide,” he said.
"The indigenous version is more real to our people, so connections are very intimate and very personal.
"That is what allows us to support that person.”
As Mr Williams explained the process, he likened it to pulling someone out of a river, administering first aid, then calling in the professionals to help.
"The caregivers can keep them safe for now, but they have to lead them onto someone that can help them on their journey to recovery,” he said.
The positive pathway to assisting life helped Mr Williams intervene three times to keep community members safe.
"You experience peoples' grief and sorrow, but you're there and able to help them through that,” he said.
Having the step by step tools proved invaluable in the work of Darling Downs Lifeline indigenous youth and family case worker Joe Twidale.
The Toowoomba man said LivingWorks' simple theories helped him keep a level head during high tension, crisis moments.
"It's been absolutely massive in my role,” he said.
"Instead of rushing through and panicking I can remember the three-step transition and relax enough to help.
"I've found it's definitely effective.”
Mr Twidale works primarily with indigenous youth who are 80 per cent more likely to die by suicide.
During his time at Lifeline he recognised how important programs like LivingWorks were for regional indigenous communities.
"There is a huge need in this area,” he said.
"Mental health is huge in rural communities with drought conditions and stressful environments.
"The more this can happen in areas like this the better.”
As the program rolls out across regional Queensland, Mr Williams hopes it pulls many of the indigenous community out of the metaphorical river and onto the banks of hope.
"This is going to change our future,” he said.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.