SUICIDE PREVENTION: Accredited trainers Paula Edwards and Debbie Hughes with Anglicare Central Queensland's mental health coordinator, Jenny Smith.
SUICIDE PREVENTION: Accredited trainers Paula Edwards and Debbie Hughes with Anglicare Central Queensland's mental health coordinator, Jenny Smith. Aden Stokes

Helping save lives through early conversation

ROCKHAMPTON local Paula Edwards was one of 20 people to take part in a new suicide prevention training program aimed at making early conversations as natural as, "what are you having for dinner?".

Early last month, volunteer trainees converged in Emerald and were trained in Anglicare Central Queensland's three-day Early Suicide Prevention Train the Trainer program to provide a strength-based, ongoing approach to social support and suicide prevention.

The program was developed to educate, not only Anglicare staff, but a variety of youth leaders, education institutions and businesses in communities to identify, understand and actively respond to vulnerable children and young people, through early conversations.

Participants, such as Ms Edwards, who successfully completed the program are now accredited to deliver training events Conversations for Life and Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life within their communities.

Ms Edwards, who works in the Anglicare mental health team as a well-being facilitator, previously worked in residential programs with traumatised youth and domestic violence victims.

She has had family members and friends who have committed suicide and said she took part in the training because "you only need to look at the numbers to see how many people suicide affects to know how important it is we all have these conversations".

"It is not about people searching out a trainer, but it is about having as many people trained as possible who can have those early conversations," she said.

"The idea of this training is to equip people - in the community, for the community."

Even though she had worked in mental health, there wasn't a specific training for having specific conversations around early suicide prevention.

"I found it quite difficult to be that forward with friends, family and people in the community - asking the question, are you having suicidal thoughts?" she said.

"In my work role - no problem. But I found it affects so many people outside my work.

"We have to do something, we have to be having these conversations, we need to be going back into our communities, teaching our communities and working within our communities to make them stronger, safer and smarter."

She said people should get on board with the training because you learn powerful tools and skills.

"It is things we can all learn and use to go out and have those, stronger smarter yarns in the community," she said.

"We need to give people hope and help them understand they are not a burden and they matter."

Anglicare Central Queensland's mental health coordinator, Jenny Smith, said suicide had a devastating effect on everyone.

"Each year, more than 2500 Australians die by suicide and over 65,000 people make a suicide attempt," she said.

"Services are there from 8am-5pm, but what happens in those most vulnerable times, from 4-8.30pm, particularly on a Friday and Saturday night? Bar attendants, sporting team members, the coach - they are there, and they are the sort of people we need to reach. We need to reach into the community to skill them up.

"We need to let people know there are people out there who can help."

Upcoming training events

Conversations for Life: June 6 from 9am-1.30pm at Anglicare Training Room, 164 Musgrave St, Rockhampton.

Stronger Smarter Yarns for Life: June 7 from 8.30am-4pm at Anglicare Training Room, 164 Musgrave St, Rockhampton.

Anyone wishing to take part in the training can contact Jenny Smith on jsmith@anglicarecq.org.au or 1300769814.