Youth Suicide: Launch Of New Resource To Aid Parents In Talking To Kids

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19th August 2009, 09:00am - Views: 1132
Youth Suicide: New Resource Available to Aid Parents in Talking to Kids About This Important Issue (Sydney Launch Today)

19 August 2009

headspace, Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation, is urging the media to take the lead in encouraging adults talk to young people about how they are feeling, and is launching a new resource to assist this process.

The debate over media reporting of suicides is important, but headspace's CEO Mr Chris Tanti believes it has taken the focus away from the real issue: talking with our kids to see if they are ok.

"We know through evidence that adults shouldn't be scared of talking to young people about suicide. What we don't want is for people to confuse the current debate about media reporting of suicide with not being able to talk to young people. We need to model to our kids that this is an issue that they can talk about with their friends, a trusted adult or parent or a professional such as a GP, counsellor or headspace worker, says Mr. Tanti."

The media can show leadership on this issue by helping to get this important preventative message out to the community. By equipping adults with information and advice about how to talk to young people, we can make an impact on youth suicide.

"We urge the media to take the initiative and instead of reporting individual youth suicides or debating the legitimacy of reporting youth suicide, to focus instead on prevention. The current public debate has given us the opportunity to focus on the underlying issues and what we can do about it as individuals. We need to focus on supporting young people to get help if needed. This can come from friends, family and health professionals," says headspace Board Member Professor Ian Hickie.

headspace CEO Mr. Tanti says, "The take home message for parents, is to not hesitate over talking to a young person about suicide. Its always really important to ask how the young person you know is feeling, whether the current focus on suicide is impacting on them and if they or someone they know has thought about taking their own life."

Importantly, adults need to be prepared for the answer. Have a response prepared in case the answer is 'yes', and investigate how you can help a young person receive professional support.

The headspace website can help with this

"This can be a difficult conversation to initiate, even for health professionals says Mr. Tanti. We are hoping our new resource Expressions, a compilation of real stories and experiences contributed by young people from around Australia will help start real and important conversations in homes across Australia."

Remember: With the recent public focus on suicide now is the time to talk about this issue with your child/friend or family member.

The Expressions Resource is being launched in Sydney today [further details below].

[Note: Media are urged to run the following advice to help parents/adults] Talking to a young person about suicide:

* Don't be afraid to talk about this issue with your child/friend or family member
* It is important to ask young people if they have contemplated suicide
* Asking someone if they feel suicidal does NOT increase risk
* Young people will mostly answer honestly if they are asked about having suicidal thoughts
* If a young person is at risk they will be glad that someone has asked them about it (this can be a relief, particularly if they have been hiding these thoughts for a while)
* Lots of people experience thoughts of suicide and these feelings usually go away
* Have a response prepared but don't feel like you have to have all the answers
* Don't be critical or judgemental, be supportive, and caring and listen to what they have to say - and if concerned seek professional help
* If the young person is feeling suicidal talking about it will be frightening. It is important to be caring and reassuring and hide any fear (even though it's frightening for us too)
* If parents/adults are concerned that a young person is at immediate risk, stay with them and call for help.
* Remember in addition to your local GP or counsellor, headspace offers free or low cost community based mental health and drug and alcohol services for young people12-25 at 30 locations across Australia
* For further information, support, or to find a headspace centre visit

Date: Wednesday 19th August
Time: 12noon, for 12.15pm start
Location: Studio One at Network Ten
1 Saunders Street, Pyrmont

headspace, The National Youth Mental Health Foundation, invite media to attend the launch of a major milestone for our National Youth Reference Group.

Expressions: Pieces of Myself will be formally launched on Wednesday 19th August in the Channel Ten studios by Ms. Wendy McCarthy AO (headspace Chair) and star of Network Ten's Talking About Your Generation, Josh Thomas.

Twelve months in the making, Expressions is a new magazine style resource that aims to provide young Australians with the opportunity to share their experiences of mental health issues and inspire others to seek help.

More than 30 stories, poems and artwork are featured in the new resource. They tell the true story of young Australians experiencing mental health, bullying, relationship and alcohol and other drug issues, and what it means to reach out for help.

Photo and Interview Opportunity: Josh Thomas and young people launching the new book, video at start of event, young people sharing their stories.

To preview the resource visit:

For media enquiries please call Karalee Evans on 0408 174 589 or Maree Sidey 0417 385 208 (National Office: 03 8346 8213)

SOURCE: headspace: National Youth Mental Health Foundation

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