It’s the kind of milestone which saves lives; and one which is more important than ever in the Mackay region.
This week, Grapevine Group marked the 3000th person to complete the SafeTalk suicide prevention program in the Mackay region.
Grapevine president Laurence Manning said the milestone was reached thanks to the efforts of The Daily Mercury, ABC Tropical North radio as well as other local media and the greater Mackay community – all of whom had played a significant part in the rollout of the SafeTalk program in the region since 2014. Mr Manning also paid tribute to Jo-Anne Shanks and the Run for MI Life organization, who had helped raise much-needed funds for the programs and promote greater awareness of mental health and suicide prevention.
“These are 3000 people in our region who have given up several hours of their time to do something real about the issue of suicide,” Mr Manning said.
“It means these people have the tools to better identify people who are at risk, and they are trained in what to do to assist in the short term. They are able to get someone the care and support they need.”
Mr Manning said many cases occurred when someone was experiencing a short term problem and once overcome, they can go on to live productive lives.
“This has also gone a long way toward de-stigmatising mental health and suicide; we can bring it into the mainstream and talk about it as we do other serious illnesses.
“Unfortunately Suicide is a bit like all serious illnesses or health issues in that not all loss of life can be prevented. But research has found that a large number can be prevented and lives saved.”
Mr Manning said while the positive effects at an individual level were one gain, milestones such as this also highlighted the need for people to consider careers in the field.
“We need to encourage our talented young people to take up careers in mental health,” he said.
“Certainly, through intervention, but also in research so we can find better treatments and solutions to the illnesses associated with mental health. We need to see the same gains in the mental health fields as we have in other major illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, for example.”