SUICIDE was too loaded a term for the Horsham-based prevention group to use in its title, instead choosing to be called Wimmera Lives Matter. in Ballarat, the term is the statement for the group's purpose to stamp out the stigma: Ballarat and District Suicide Prevention Network.
Wimmera Lives Matters' Ruth Sanders said little nuances could be important in best reaching different communities, particularly the more regional you delved, for ultimately the same purpose.
Representatives from suicide prevention networks from South Gippsland, East Gippsland, Mornington Peninsula, the Wimmera, Ararat and Mitchell Shire gathered in Ballarat to share learnings and challenges facing their communities in education and awareness.
Some are well-established while others, like the Wimmera, are still starting on the journey.
Small towns can be the warmest, most welcoming places to be and they can be the loneliest, most judgmental places to be, especially when you're talking about vulnerable people.Ruth Sanders, Wimmera Lives Matter
"Three is a lot of stigma. We say to talk about emotive stories of people (of experience) but it's really personal...Putting it out in a small community, you don't really know what the response is going to be - you don't really know how that's going to impact on your work life, you family life," Ms Sanders said.
"That's a lot of pressure to put on people. I think a lot of people want to step right away from it - that's one of the reasons we took suicide out of our name.
Neighbouring group Ararat Suicide and Prevention Awareness Group finds taboo part of the challenge, but engagement was a big hurdle. Group member Lynda Nyikos said rural people naturally travelled a lot to be part of community groups and it was hard asking people to commit more time or expertise.
Ms Nyikos said forum events with other groups was vital to help with advice on using social media, attracting members and getting the key messages out in the community.
The Ballarat forum was sparked from a national convention and Ms Nyikos said at a state-level each group had a lot in common but on a smaller scale groups could help each other and adapt concepts for what might work in other places.
Commonality is important to Chasing Change's Andrew Joseph. The Mornington Peninsula-based group hosts a commemorative walk, similar to Ballarat's Out of the Shadows event, attracting up to 1000 people each year. The group gives talks to football clubs, offers mental health first aid in schools and raises money through art auctions.
At the core, Mr Joseph said all different personal and professional experience helped in tackling a complex issue.
"When I talk commonality I'm talking about those who have been bereaved by suicide so that loss, that's the unfortunate common thread we all live with," Mr Joseph said.
But on the other side of that, there is hope and with that there comes passion and the hope to change.
"That's the common thread we've experienced - the element of loss and we all want to grow from that."
Click on the image below to read about Walking Off the War Within
Where to find help
There is a wealth of professional support for men to seek help for mental or physical help. The key message is that you are not alone.
This can include:
Lifeline: 13 11 14 for 24 hours/seven days a week crisis support or lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au
Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
Mens line: 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au
Survivors of Suicide: 0449 913 535
Relationships Australia: 1800 050 321
headspace Ballarat (for 12-25s and parent support): 5304 4777
Solider On: 1300 620 380
Ballarat Community Health: 5338 4500
QLife: 1800 184 527 (Support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex)
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