Karrinyup mum channels grief into suicide prevention
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.