On Tuesday July 17, Galston Rotary hosted a public meeting inviting our federal member Julian Leeser to talk on suicide prevention. In our community, Julian’s electorate, over 109 people have committed suicide in recent years.
Julian’s commitment to this cause is powerful, having lost his own father to suicide 20 years ago. He has been very energetic in making his fellow politicians aware of the problem, initiating and joining a range of prevention groups. He has forged close links with Lifeline which will be holding a major public rally on July 31 at Hornsby RSL. Called ‘Dare to Ask’ it is aimed at educating people on how to recognize symptoms of suicidal tendencies and how to respond appropriately.
Julian listed the enormous money the government has allocated to peak organizations like Lifeline and Beyondblue which has no doubt helped. However it was very interesting to also hear from a much smaller organization that works with those most susceptible to suicide, our traumatized youth. Heath Ducker, CEO of Youth Insearch, followed Julian with a brief video presentation of how his group has achieved stellar results helping young people who are suicidal as a result of abuse, neglect and bullying. As a result of peer group therapy at their intensive weekend camps and follow up counselling, 80% stop attempting suicide and 65% no longer feel suicidal.
The vast majority of these adolescents who attend the courses manage to turn their lives around and go on to lead productive lives. These outcomes are outstanding, especially for a fairly small operation in the youth crisis sector. In saving young lives, Youth Insearch is also saving the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars per annum in welfare and rehabilitation costs. Yet all they are asking is government assistance of $400,000 p/a.
Julian was clearly impressed with Youth Insearch and will no doubt do his best to ensure the government moves quickly to fulfil its moral and fiscal responsibilities in providing the miniscule funding for Youth Insearch to help our most vulnerable and desperate young people.