Shedding light on support

The festive season brings mental health issues close to home for Inglewood residents Kristy and Andrew Riches, who have both experienced the devastating effects of suicide.

Ms Riches, who lost a close friend to suicide in December 2012, said Christmas could be difficult for people who had lost a loved one.

�Christmas is a tough time of the year for people who have lost someone,� Ms Riches said.

�I think you�ve got to just be mindful because there can be a lot of guilt, blame, grief and loss around this time of year.�

She said it was important to be non-judgemental about other people�s concerns.

�It�s about not minimising issues � no matter what it is, people need to feel like they have someone to go to,� she said.

Ms Riches, who works in the mental health sector, said people should take time out to check in with loved ones.

�It�s about looking for the early warning signs, changes in behaviour or sometimes elation,� she said.

�For some people there can be this powerful elation because they�ve decided they can see the end.�

As part of a Christmas campaign by Lifeline, people will put up Christmas lights in hope of raising money for suicide prevention.

Mr Riches, whose work colleague took their life in 2007, said the family would put up lights and hold a Christmas party with gold coin donations to fundraise for the cause.

�We got on to it through a volunteer last year and raised a few hundred but we�re going to go a bit harder at it this year,� Mr Riches said.

�We�re going to challenge our neighbour � our goal is about $1000.

�For us, the issue is personal and professional.�

Lifeline chief executive Fiona Kalaf said volunteers answered 90 per cent of crisis support calls but it was not enough.

�That is why Lifeline WA has launched the 2015 Lights for Lifeline campaign � to raise funds so we can train more accredited volunteers who do such important life-saving work,� Ms Kalaf said.

�This festive season we are calling on businesses to pledge their support with a minimum of $3000.�