Black Dog: Maylands-based Constable Care theatrical co-ordinator wants students to discuss grief of suicide


CCCSF performers Peter Townsend and Clare Thomson.
CCCSF performers Peter Townsend and Clare Thomson.

A MAYLANDS-based Constable Care theatrical response group co-ordinator wants to create discussions with students about suicide and grief through the theatre production, Black Dog.

Zac James, who works for the Constable Care Child Safety Foundation (CCCSF), developed a theatre-in-education program for schools which was launched on March 28 at the State Theatre Centre of WA.

The production addresses suicide prevention and grief by generating an open dialogue where the audience participates in the performance and learn about key life skills.

Mr James said the strongest message in the production was the power of helping change the trajectory of somebody’s struggles by asking the right questions and helping them to find support.

“As a proud First Nations Wongi and Yamatji man, the topic affects me on a personal level in many facets… so I was always invested in creating anything that would help to create a discussion,” he said.

“I personally believe that the best way to overcome an issue is to empower one’s self in that arena.

“We need to break the taboo of conversation.

“We need to be teaching our children that they can talk about how they’re feeling but to also arm them with relevant resources and services available in their communities.”

Mr James said he worked with several mental health organisations and psychologists for the production.

“We are naturally a close knit ensemble and if I write something that is over the top, they tell me, several times,” he said.

“I can’t speak for them but from my general observations, I can see a fire in their eyes that comes with confidence and a want to make change, this is the most important part of the process to me.”

He hopes to bring the program to as many schools as possible.

“ If we can stop the (suicide) cycle and educate, we may get to a stage where we won’t need plays like Black Dog and I hope that day comes soon,” he said.

For more information, visit www.cccsf.org.au.

For anyone needing further help contact Mental Health Emergency Response Line on 1300 555 788, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551800 or Youth Focus on 6266 4333.

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