Look for the signs while cel­e­brat­ing

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Near You -

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.

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