Tools for bush folk to beat suicide

ARE you having suicidal thoughts? It's a question none of us want to ask but a new program in the region is renewing calls for locals to be open about the realities of suicide.

In a rural community the right help is not always available, however safeTALK is designed to teach everyday people to become more alert to prevention opportunities.

Yesterday, Gaynor Hicks of the National Centre for Suicide Prevention and Training met with members of the Warwick Suicide Prevention Group.

Johno Felton organised Mrs Hicks' visit "because she is one of the best suicide educators in the world".

"There was another suicide in the region at the weekend," Mr Felton said.

"Those who want to help now have the opportunity to get training to prevent suicide.

"We've got to get people talking about the issue so they can learn to be alert to the signs."

SafeTALK is training that prepares anyone over the age of 15 to identify people with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.

Most people with thoughts of suicide invite help to stay safe. Alert helpers know how to use these opportunities to support that desire for safety.

If you become a safeTALK-trained suicide alert helper, you will be better able to move beyond common tendencies to miss, dismiss or avoid suicide and identify people who have thoughts of suicide.

You'll also be able to apply the TALK steps (Tell, Ask, Listen and KeepSafe) to connect a person with suicide thoughts to suicide first aid.

Mrs Hicks said suicide can be prevented.

"The thoughts of suicide are dangerous and they really need to be taken seriously," she said.

"There are a lot of signs people are missing when it comes to suicide.

"These include certain behaviours, actions, withdrawing from normal activity."

Mrs Hicks said asking about suicide can be as hard as someone asking for help.

"There's a lot of stigma about not talking about suicide," she said.

"Some people think it's a topic to be left untouched. But we need to be more open about suicide to prevent it."

Mrs Hicks said if you have someone close to you who is having suicidal thoughts or has even made an attempt, it's not the time to be drilling for answers.

"It's confusing; you often wonder do they really want to die? Will they do it again? What can I do?"

"You really need to let them know that you are going to support them," Mrs Hicks said.

"Listen to what they have to say and how their mental outlook may be affecting their wellbeing. If you don't think you can help them, find someone who can."

Kicking off next Wednesday will be the first monthly healing meeting organised by the Mayan Maruma-li Indigenous support group.

Organiser Joanne Wallace said while it was aimed at Indigenous people, everyone was more than welcome to head along.

"The first meeting will be in Allora from 10am at the hall in Warwick St," she said.

"It's designed to get people talking and basically making sure everyone is OK.

"We hope to see the group move around the district on a monthly basis."

Social worker Leonie Hobson said the program was overdue for our region.

"It's absolutely fantastic and definitely an area that had previously been untapped in our region," she said. "It's meeting a new need and it's really good to see."

If you or someone you know needs immediate help phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information on the monthly healing meeting phone Joanne on 4666 4156 or email

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