Community urged to support youth suicide appeal

A Dawesville mother whose 14-year-old son took his own life has embraced an emotive new appeal to raise funds and awareness about the devastating impact of youth suicide.

Speaking just days before the second anniversary of Terry Scott’s death, Danielle Edwards said she had been compelled to share her deeply personal experience of losing her eldest son to suicide.

It comes as Youth Focus today launches its summer fundraising drive in a bid to help more young people with mental illnesses and those at risk of suicide.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with statistics showing 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in Western Australia last year.

For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

Using an emotive message, Youth Focus’s thought-provoking fundraising campaign asks the community: “What would you give?” to save a life. Money raised through the appeal in December and January will help Youth Focus continue its work to provide free, unlimited counselling sessions for young people and education programs in WA schools.

“Losing a child to suicide is horrific,” Danielle said. “We need emotive messages like this campaign to help overcome the terrible epidemic of youth suicide.

“People think it won’t happen to them. But it does. It happened to me.

“As a community we need to share the responsibility, talk openly and do everything we can to ensure our young people have the help they need.”

The mother-of-five said Terry’s death on December 12, 2015 had been difficult to reconcile because there had been no warning signs. Terry told his family he was going for a walk after breakfast. It was the last time they saw him alive.

“That morning it was a normal Saturday morning. We had breakfast together like we always did, sitting around having a chat and a laugh,” she said.

“There had been no big argument or anything untoward that had happened. He was doing brilliantly at school. There were no signs, there were no symptoms. Terry went out after breakfast and made the decision to take his own life.

“He didn’t have this tumultuous upbringing, he had a good home life, he never wanted for anything. He could not have been any more loved.

“Even that morning I remember standing in the hallway and saying to him: ‘You’re so bloody handsome’ and giving him a big kiss – and that’s the last time I told him I loved him and the last time he spoke to me, because after that, he was gone.”

Danielle said she had openly discussed the issue of suicide with Terry.

“I had discussed with Terry at length about if he had any feelings, he could talk to me or his grandad or stepdad who he was also very close to. But it still didn’t matter,” she said.

“I say to kids out there if you are having these feelings, if you are struggling, please, please seek help. There are people who care and people who can help. If you don’t have someone you trust to speak to, organisations like Youth Focus can help.”

Danielle said she had been driven to highlight the massive social issue of youth suicide after her personal experience and through her work as a nurse.

“This isn’t just personal for me, it’s professional too because I see it from both angles. I see the frustration from the parents, I see what we do at work and then I have the grief and the empathy from a mother’s perspective.

“I wouldn’t wish this pain on any parent. The grief that goes along with it, it is forever.

“I have great respect for the work of Youth Focus. Youth Focus isn’t about finding these signs and symptoms and ticking a box, it’s about finding out what’s going on with these kids, why are they getting to this point? And that, to me, is really important.

“If a patient comes in with a broken leg, I can plaster that leg and the patient is on their way. With mental health, it is nowhere near that easy. It takes months of effort and time and the support of the community and family networks.”

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said suicide was the most preventable cause of death in young people and the figures were too high.

“Unacceptably, suicide is the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25,” Ms Kalaf said.

Ms Kalaf urged the WA community get behind the Youth Focus summer appeal, citing that the organisation had provided care to more than 20,000 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and outreach programs in schools since 2000.

“Through our supporters, sponsors and partnerships, Youth Focus supports around 3000 young people every year,” she said.

“It is largely due to the generosity of individuals and companies that we are able to provide young people with critical counselling services as well as suicide prevention education in schools.

“Without the kindness of the community, we would not be able to continue to support and care for some of Perth’s most vulnerable young people.”

If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.





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