Community urged to support youth suicide appeal

December 10th, 2017

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.

 

 

 

Youth Focus launches new branding to better connect

November 16th, 2017

Youth Focus has unveiled its dynamic, approachable new identity in a bid to better engage and connect with young people, amid statistics that show suicide is the leading cause of death in young people in Western Australia.

The brand launch comes as Youth Focus thanked the important contributions of its supporters who help turn the tide on youth suicide, announcing the winners of the 2017 Make A Difference Awards on Wednesday night.

“Youth Focus is excited to enter its next stage with an engaging new identity that resonates more strongly with young people,” Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said.

“This brand has been developed off the back of considerable research and in consultation with young people. As such, it’s a reflection of the safe space Youth Focus provides for young people to learn and grow.”

In announcing the organisation’s annual Progress Report 2016/17 at the event, Ms Kalaf said Youth Focus remained steadfast in its aim to reduce youth suicide.

“Our latest Progress Report shows Youth Focus in a strong position financially and well positioned to continue our tireless work to reduce youth suicide,” she said.

“Last financial year, Youth Focus’s revenue grew 3 per cent, reflecting a growth in donations from a range of fundraising events including our iconic Hawaiian Ride for Youth and Night of Nights Ball driven by Audi.

“Our financial surplus of $600,000 will allow Youth Focus to take on a range of new initiatives and improve efficiencies as we work towards our Strategic Plan 2017-2020.”
In WA last year, 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives. “Despite WA’s suicide rate dropping last year, suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Each week, we lose at least one young person in WA to suicide. The ripple effect in the community is profound, and, as a consequence at least one family a week is forced to deal with the abject grief, guilt and pain of losing a loved one unnecessarily.”

Ms Kalaf said Youth Focus supporters, including this year’s Make A Difference Award winners, were “invaluable” in helping the organisation continue its important work.

“These people are the unsung heroes who day in, day out devote their time to helping young people and Youth Focus, whether it be by raising money, organising fundraising ventures, mentoring young people or helping to share awareness about the massive social issue of suicide,” Ms Kalaf said.

“We value greatly the vast number of Youth Focus supporters who selflessly give up their time and energy to benefit the lives of young people in our community.

“These contributions make positive differences to young people’s lives and have a meaningful impact on our community.”

The annual Make A Difference Awards are presented to individuals and organisations who have displayed drive and compassion in their support for the important work of Youth Focus.

Eight awards were presented to worthy recipients from all walks of life at a special presentation ceremony at Fraser’s, Kings Park.

In the year to June 30, 2017, Youth Focus supported 2872 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and school outreach programs.

In addition, Youth Focus engaged with more than 6000 people through school and workplace sessions, teaching vital skills and the confidence to talk openly about mental health issues and encourage people to seek help for themselves and others.

Youth Focus pays tribute to its supporters

November 16th, 2017

Youth Focus has thanked the important contributions of its many supporters who help turn the tide on youth suicide, announcing the winners of the 2017 Make A Difference Awards on Wednesday night.

Eight awards were presented to worthy recipients from all walks of life at a special presentation ceremony at Fraser’s, Kings Park.

The annual Make A Difference Awards are presented to individuals and organisations who have displayed drive and compassion in their support for the important work of Youth Focus.

The awards come as Youth Focus unveiled its dynamic, approachable new identity in a bid to better engage and connect with young people, amid statistics that show suicide is the leading cause of death in young people in Western Australia.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said Youth Focus supporters were invaluable in helping the organisation continue its important work.

“These people are the unsung heroes who day in, day out devote their time to helping young people and Youth Focus, whether it be by raising money, organising fundraising ventures, mentoring young people or helping to share awareness about the massive social issue of suicide,” Ms Kalaf said.

“We value greatly the vast number of Youth Focus supporters who selflessly give up their time and energy to benefit the lives of young people in our community.

“These contributions make positive differences to young people’s lives and have a meaningful impact on our community.”

Statistics show that 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA last year.

“Despite WA’s suicide rate dropping last year, suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Each week, we lose at least one young person in WA to suicide. The ripple effect in the community is profound, and, as a consequence at least one family a week is forced to deal with the abject grief, guilt and pain of losing a loved one unnecessarily.”

In announcing the organisation’s annual Progress Report 2016/17 at the event, Ms Kalaf said Youth Focus remained steadfast in its aim to reduce youth suicide. “Our latest Progress Report shows Youth Focus in a strong position financially and well positioned to continue our tireless work to reduce youth suicide,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Youth Focus is excited to enter its next stage with an engaging new identity that resonates more strongly with young people.

“This brand has been developed off the back of considerable research and in consultation with young people. As such, it’s a reflection of the safe space Youth Focus provides for young people to learn and grow.”

In the year to June 30, 2017, Youth Focus supported 2872 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and school outreach programs.

In addition, the Youth Focus engaged with more than 6000 people through school and workplace sessions, teaching vital skills and the confidence to talk openly about mental health issues and encourage people to seek help for themselves and others.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE AWARD WINNERS 2017

Employee Award: Nikki Peapell (headspace Midland) – Nikki is a well-respected clinician who has forged positive professional relationships, not only within headspace, but also with stakeholders in the wider community. A caring and supportive leader who keeps her clinical team grounded, she supports staff to provide quality services to clients while gaining skills and knowledge.

Community Leader Award: James Sutherland – James volunteers his time as a mentor to young people through Youth Focus, placing a pivotal role on early intervention of mental health issues. He provides himself as a resource to help transition clients from counselling into the real world.

Peter and Debra Prendiville – For the past seven years, The Prendiville Group has hosted Polo in the Valley at their Duncraig Stud in the Swan Valley, generously supporting Youth Focus by donating $100,000 each year.

Media Award: Carrie Cox – Freelance journalist, Carrie, wrote a powerful feature article for the West Weekend Magazine called The Long Ride Home which highlighted the 2017 Hawaiian Ride for Youth cycling event and three West Australians – two riders and a 17-year-old girl – with different stories about their mental health experiences. Judges said: “Carrie’s passion about educating the wider community on the issues surrounding mental health resulted in a body of work that was accurate, sensitive and compelling”.

Corporate Social Responsibility Award: Mineral Resources – Since 2014, Mineral Resources has contributed $200,000 a year to support Youth Focus services in WA. The current partnership extends to 2019. Through its partnership with Youth Focus, Mineral Resources has shown commitment to enhancing the mental health literacy and understanding of its employees.

Lavan – As the naming rights sponsor of the Lavan Fit30, Lavan led by example with registrations, encouraging their clients and corporate colleagues to participate in the fitness challenge. Lavan was instrumental in a redesign of the event to ensure it was community focussed and inclusive to maximise its leverage and fundraising for the Youth Focus cause.

Youth Award: Jared Stone – Jared was appointed as a Youth Focus Ambassador in 2016, and has taken a leadership role in raising the profile of youth mental health in Australia. Jared is a passionate individual who gives back by sharing his experiences and acknowledging that mental illness does not stop anyone from being successful in their own right.

Geoff Rasmussen Corporate Citizen Award: Russell Gibbs – As the Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian, Russell has supported Youth Focus in a raft of fundraising events from the Hawaiian Ride for Youth to the Night of Nights Ball. Russell is the ambassador for the Hawaiian Ride for Youth CEO Challenge, which continues to attract new riders each year. Through his involvement in the ride, Russell has helped Youth Focus raise more than $17 million over 15 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youth Focus praises “yes” vote on same-sex marriage

November 16th, 2017

Youth Focus has welcomed today’s overwhelming “YES” vote for marriage equality in Australia, saying the result will play a role in reducing the risk of suicide in the community.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released results of the national postal survey on same-sex marriage this morning at 7am (WDST), revealing that 61.6% of clear responses had voted “yes” to marriage equality, while 38.4% recorded a clear “no” vote. A total of 79.5% of eligible Australian voters took part in the survey.

Youth Focus General Manager of Community Engagement Chris Harris said the result was a positive outcome that would help reduce discrimination against Australia’s LGBTIQ community.

“There is no shadow of a doubt that legalising same-sex marriage will go some way to reducing suicide rates in this group,” Mr Harris said.

“Any legislation that promotes a sense of belonging and negates a sense of devaluing certain groups in our community is a protective measure that can reduce suicide.

“This outcome will serve to promote social development and social protectors in our community and is, not the least, a fair decision that aligns with basic human rights values.”

In WA, suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25. Of the 371 people who died in WA after taking their own lives, 54 were young people aged between 15 and 24.

Research shows that same-sex attracted people are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition and five times more likely to make a suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers.

“Like many other mental health services in Australia, Youth Focus has been concerned about the negative health impacts caused by discrimination against LGBTIQ people,” Mr Harris said.

“For some young people the debate about same-sex marriage has been an emotional process, with reports of young people being exposed to judgement and personal attacks about their sexuality, as well as confusion and anxiety.

“Suicide is the most preventable cause of death in young people and it is not acceptable that any young person believes that ending their life is a preferred choice.

“Laws that promote equality and make members of the community feel positive and valued are a protective factor against suicide.

“As an organisation that is dedicated to creating brighter futures for all young people, Youth Focus is pleased with this outcome.”

In September, five leading youth mental health organisations released collaborative research showing that up to 3000 youth suicide attempts could be averted each year with a “YES” vote for marriage equality.

The #mindthefacts campaign was a collaboration between the Black Dog Institute, headspace, ReachOut, Brain and Mind Centre at University of Sydney and Orygen, the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health. Youth Focus is the lead agency for four headspace centres in Western Australia: Albany, Geraldton and Midland; and the Midland Youth Early Psychosis Program.

In the year to June, Youth Focus supported 2872 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and school outreach programs.

Youth Focus is an independent Western Australian not-for-profit working to reduce youth suicide. Through free, unlimited face-to-face individual counselling sessions and other valuable mental health services, Youth Focus works with young people aged from 12 to 25 helping them to overcome issues associated with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal ideation.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au

Mental health as important as physical wellbeing

October 11th, 2017

Strengthening mental health literacy and continuing frank, open conversations is the key to supporting communities, a Youth Focus Mental Health Week breakfast heard this morning.

Mental Health and Health Minister Roger Cook told the gathering at Fraser’s Restaurant, Kings Park, that Mental Health Week provided an opportunity to continue open conversations about mental health among the wider community.

“One of the great challenges that we meet, both in health and mental health, is health and mental health literacy in our community,” Mr Cook said.

“Unless we can continue to bring the community with us, unless we can continue to raise the level of awareness and empower the mental health consumer, we will continue to struggle to deal with the sort of issues that are impacting our community.”

The breakfast was hosted by Youth Focus during Mental Health Week, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. Mental Health Week is an important annual event that aims to raise community awareness and understanding about mental health issues.

WA Primary Health Alliance Chief Executive Officer Learne Durrington, Alcoa Alumina’s Brian Doy and youth mental health advocate Brehany Shanahan led a panel discussion about how workplaces are fostering greater investment in mental health to increase productivity and why mental health should attract the same importance as physical health.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said Mental Health Week was an important event that aimed to raise critical awareness and understanding about mental health issues.

“In Australia, one in four young people are living with a mental health condition,” Ms Kalaf said.

“We know that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first appear in people under the age of 25 so early intervention and creating supportive, compassionate communities is paramount to address this.”

Statistics show that seven Australians die by suicide each day, and 140 more make an attempt. In WA last year, 371 people died after taking their own lives, including 54 aged between 15 and 24.

“Statistics show more than one young person each week and at least one family every week is dealing with the abject grief, guilt and pain of losing a loved one unnecessarily to suicide,” Ms Kalaf said. “The ripple effect in our community is profound.”

Since 2000, Youth Focus has provided care to more than 20,000 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and outreach programs in schools.

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.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au

 

Suicide statistics a “call to action”

September 27th, 2017

New statistics have revealed a drop in the number of suicide-related deaths across Australia, but Youth Focus says more investment and awareness is needed to save young lives.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics report, Causes of Death data 2016, released this morning, shows that 2866 people died from intentional self-harm in Australia, compared to 3027 the previous year.

In WA, 371 people died as a result of suicide last year, compared to 394 in 2015. This included 54 young people aged between 15 and 24, slightly down from 55 the previous year.

While all states and territories, except Tasmania, reported a drop in the number of suicide deaths between 2015 and 2016, suicide was the leading cause of death of children aged between five and 17, and accounted for more than a third of deaths of young people aged between 15 and 24.

Youth Focus General Manager of Community Engagement Chris Harris said the rate of youth suicide had reached crisis point and today’s ABS statistics were a “call to action”.

“This data indicates that the rate of suicide, which is the most preventable cause of death in young people, is not acceptable. It is not OK that any young person believes that ending their life is a preferred choice,” Mr Harris said.

“We are seeing more investment in suicide prevention than ever before, yet these statistics are still unacceptably high.”

The ABS data shows suicide deaths accounted for a greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (5.5%), compared to non-indigenous Australians (1.7%).

“Sadly, the data reflects high rates of suicide for the traditional owners of our country. It is imperative that we work collaboratively with Aboriginal communities to find the right solutions to changing this in the coming years.”

Mr Harris said experts were optimistic and hopeful that the high number of young people taking their own lives could be arrested.

“To reverse these numbers we have to work together as a community. It is a social responsibility to ensure that young people receive the support they need at the earliest opportunity and preferably before they need specialist mental health services,” he said.

Mr Harris said more and more young people were doing it tough.

“What we need to do, going forward, is reassure young people that when they let somebody know that they are struggling, those people around them feel confident, willing and able to respond to that distress at the earliest possible time,” he said.

“Youth Focus is committed to working in partnership with other agencies, both locally and nationally, to invest in the lives of young people. We believe we can help turn the tide on this massive social problem, but improving the mental health of young people starts at a community level.

“It is naive to think that providing more resources for the young person alone is the answer. We need to support those around them – the families, the schools, the communities – to make a difference.

“We need to wake up to the fact that intervention needs to occur much earlier. That’s not necessarily about getting young people to mental health services, but engaging people in their circle – family, friends, sports groups, schools – so they know what to say and how to respond much earlier.”

For more information visit: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/3303.0~2016~Main%20Features~Intentional%20self-harm:%20key%20characteristics~7 

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.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443

nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au

 

Learn more about mental health advocate and Youth Reference Group member, Lily

August 28th, 2017

1. Why did you become involved in the Youth Reference Group?
I was forwarded an email regarding the Youth Reference Group at a time when I was recuperating from the mental stress of year 12. It was something I not only wanted to do to contribute in helping young people cope with difficult times, but also for helping myself become more involved in a community program and being a part of a bigger picture. Joining the Youth Reference Group seemed to be a good way to get involved and start to make a difference.

2. What’s the best thing about being a member of the Youth Reference Group?
I love being able to contribute and plan events. So far, I have helped organised the SuperheroYOUth festival. Being able to put forth my ideas and know that I have actively contributed to create something fantastic for young people is a great feeling.

3. Where do you see Youth Focus in five years?
I’d love to see a more collaborative community-focused side. It would be great to enhance community engagement and get people talking about ways to cope and push through mental struggles. I think there’s already such great work done to remove the barrier of talking about mental struggles, but it would be great if actual coping mechanisms and counselling techniques that help people heal as part of a community, or alone, could be more common knowledge and more widely taught.

Seeking young Ellenbrook men for mental health workshop

August 17th, 2017

Young men aged 18 to 25 who live in Ellenbrook have the opportunity to explore the issues surrounding suicide and mental health at a workshop on Saturday, September 9.

Each participant will be given a $100 voucher to attend the Young Men’s Project workshop which will be held from 10am at the Coolamon Oval Pavilion, Bonney Lane, Ellenbrook.

The five hour workshop includes lunch.

The workshop is being organised through Youth Focus, which oversees the Young Men’s Project, in collaboration with the City of Swan. Young men must register to attend through the City of Swan.

Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf said suicide was still the biggest killer of young Australian men.

“Suicide kills more young men than car accidents and the number has been getting higher over the past 10 years,” Ms Kalaf said.

“One suicide affects hundreds of people with an impact that devastates whole communities.

“Therefore, it is critical that young men come together to help us understand their unique issues and how we can implement meaningful programs and services in the local environment.”

Youth Focus is a for purpose Western Australian organisation that works to prevent suicide and assist young people aged 12-25 with issues related to anxiety, depression and self-harm.

The Young Men’s Project workshop will examine issues that directly relate to living in Ellenbrook.

It will highlight how young men cope with various challenges, the type of services they are trying to access and whether they are getting the right help they really need.

For example, the young men might talk about employment barriers or the pressures of being a young father, or not being able to access free counselling in a timely manner.

Ultimately, it is hoped that with the help of the workshop participants, the City of Swan can develop and implement relevant mental health projects that benefit the local community.

Importantly, these conversations will assist in reducing the stigma around mental health and promote further discussions.

For more information, please visit: www.youngmensproject.com.au

To register your interest, please email: jimmy.cangy@swan.wa.gov.au

 

 

Media contact:

Gemma Scheibling

gemma.scheibling@youthfocus.com.au

0434 055 877