Content warning for mentions of suicide and mental health issues
About two years ago – at a particularly low point in my life – I found myself wandering slowly along a rainforest trail, hoping desperately that the stillness of the cool mountain air would work to bring some stillness to my mind. Instead, I spent the two-hour hike fighting an exhausting battle with menacing thoughts of ending my life. They were loud, and incessant, and determined to win. I can’t tell you how much I needed someone. Anyone. To help me lift even an ounce of that weight from my shoulders.
I’m sure it’s not out of line to suggest that most everyone you know will experience thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives – and at a time when depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles are more prevalent than ever – it is beyond crucial that we (as a community and individuals) know both, how to help – and how to ask for it.
I sat down with Magda Pomroy (pictured above), a Youth Caseworker for Bellingen Shire Youth Services and the facilitator of the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) workshops to discuss how we can all come together to support our community and work to reduce and prevent suicide. Magda has worked with young people and families for many years and holds a degree in Social Sciences and Counselling. She carries with her a wealth of knowledge from her own suicide prevention training and experience volunteering with Lifeline as a telephone counsellor.
“The ASIST workshops are designed to teach people how to respond when someone comes to them with thoughts of suicide. Sometimes, people tend to get scared. They can go blank. They can shut down. They don’t know what to say, or even what else is out there in terms of support. These workshops outline really simple guidelines for people to follow, they teach you about your personal response, as well as what’s out there and where you can refer the person who’s struggling. Talking to someone through thoughts of suicide is a big responsibility, but through these workshops, we want to make the assumption that we can help.”
The two-day workshops are running across the shire through April and May and are open to anyone from sixteen-years and older. Tickets are $30 – but you do get a $30 voucher for IGA in return:
Bellingen workshops will run on Thursday the 15thand Friday the 16thof April.
Dorrigo workshops will run on Tuesday the 12thand Wednesday the 13thof April.
Urunga workshops will run on Thursday the 20thand Friday 21stof May.
“I want to train everybody in our community so it’s not just the experts doing suicide prevention. It’s the shop owner that employs twenty young people, or the high school teacher that’s dealing with hundreds of kids a year. I want to see sporting coaches and young people at these workshops. We want everyone to have basic intervention skills. Suicide is a preventable thing, but there is so many people dying from it. The ripple effect of someone taking their own lives is massive. It’s community wide. We know that being supported in a way that is gentle and caring just makes so much difference to someone’s life. We want people to know they can reach out and find a successful lifeline when they need help. We want to see a community who can hold these people – and who can hold each other. These workshops are about hope,” says Magda.
So, please, from human to human – for your friend, or your brother, or your mother, or your students, or your daughter, or your grandfather, or yourself – book yourself in to one of these workshops and learn about the steps you can take to help someone stay.
To register for the ASIST Program please contact Magda Pomroy via email: [email protected] or phone: 0401 386 834