Kar­rinyup mum chan­nels grief into sui­cide preven­tion

Stirling Times - - Front Page - Matt Zis

THE dev­as­ta­tion of los­ing her youngest son and a de­sire to en­sure oth­ers don’t ex­pe­ri­ence the same loss in their lives has spurred Lisa Dowie to make a dif­fer­ence in sui­cide preven­tion.

She spoke to the Times af­ter new cause of death sta­tis­tics last week showed WA recorded its high­est yearly deaths by sui­cide in more than a decade.

The Kar­rinyup res­i­dent called for more fund­ing and bet­ter com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion to re­duce the tragic loss of life.

“Ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple to know that it’s okay not to have the an­swers, but to at least know some of the signs,” she said.

On the day be­fore her son Kee­gan took his life in Oc­to­ber 2015, he was laid up in bed with ton­sil­li­tis but had given no signs of any fur­ther strug­gles.

“Af­ter Kee­gan took his own life, I learnt that he had given away his prized DJ decks to friends, and that was in prepa­ra­tion for tak­ing his own life,” Ms Dowie said.

“Friends or fam­i­lies who see their chil­dren do­ing some­thing un­usual like that, it could be a bit of an alarm bell and maybe you need to ask the ques­tion: are you okay?

“I know I would have done that had I known.”

Ms Dowie is one of six par­ents who have formed a Youth Fo­cus Carer Ref­er­ence Group to en­sure the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s sup­port for par­ents and car­ers re­mains rel­e­vant.

She said the group would help iden­tify un­met needs, ac­cess to fund­ing and to en­sure money is chan­nelled into the right ar­eas to re­duce the num­ber of un­nec­es­sary deaths.

“There’s just too much sui­cide hap­pen­ing in our so­ci­ety and we need to be able to find a way to pre­vent this,” Ms Dowie said.

“If we don’t get se­ri­ous about this and we don’t put more into it, we are not go­ing to see a de­cline.”

Youth Fo­cus com­mu­nity en­gage­ment gen­eral man­ager Chris Har­ris echoed the call to fund greater ed­u­ca­tion for peo­ple who could be part of a per­son’s sup­port net­work, in­clud­ing fam­i­lies, GPs, sport coaches and, most im­por­tantly, school friends.

“We need to look at get­ting men­tal health in the school cur­ricu­lum from (Kindy) to Year 12,” he said.

“As a West Aus­tralian, we need our com­mu­nity mem­bers to know that we need them, that they are val­ued and that we miss them when they are not here.”

Par­ent Lisa Dowie has joined the Youth Fo­cus Carer Ref­er­ence Group to guide sup­port for par­ents and car­ers af­fected by sui­cide and help re­duce sui­cide.

Lisa Dowie with her youngest son Kee­gan, who took his life.

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