Look for the signs while celebrating
CHRISTMAS is a time of happiness and family reunions but the reality is that it can be the saddest time of year for some.
Youth Focus has launched its annual Christmas appeal with the message that although most kids revel in the celebrations, even watching others experience that joy can make some feel even more isolated and alone, reminding them of what they’re missing out on.
The not- for- profit, community-based organisation aims to put a stop to youth suicide and depression. Chief executive Jenny Allen said funds raised would help it operate a team of tertiary- trained and skilled mental health professionals provide young people and their families with a range of free, unlimited and expert early intervention and prevention services.
At this year’s launch, City Beach mum Anne Richards bravely shared her story of eldest son Mark, who took his own life five years ago when he was 27.
Ms Richards said she believed it was important to talk more openly and more often about mental health and suicide, especially in young people.
“I lost my son after a long battle. He was not diagnosed with depression until he was in his 20s but when I look back I can see that he started showing signs while he was in his teens. I just didn’t realise it. I didn’t know any better,” she said.
She said compared to 15 years ago, community awareness and empathy in the community was growing about mental health issues and suicide, but there was a long way to go, especially with growing demand for support services.
Her two central messages are to parents and
DID YOU KNOW young people.
“To parents, don’t ignore your kids if they ask for help; take them seriously,” she said.
“To kids, find someone you trust, even if it’s not your parents, and talk to them.”
Anne Richards (centre) with her sisters Jane Harries and Mary Dawson.