“ON September 11, 2008, my stepdad, a man who had fathered me for 15 years, took his own life.
“I remember every part of the moment I found out.
“I’d spoken to him the night before and I’d got a text message from him that morning and he seemed fine.
“I was 20 years old and I had no concept of suicide, I had no concept of how common it was in our community.
“Sadly, Graham was just one of 2341 lives lost by suicide that year in Australia and this number isn’t decreasing.”
Ashlee Harrison, the 2016 Young West Australian of the Year and founder of mental health charity zero2hero, delivered an inspiring and thought-provoking speech at the City of Joondalup’s Mayoral Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
More than 200 people attended the Joondalup Resort event, which was themed Mental Health Awareness, Suicide Prevention and Community Wellbeing.
Ms Harrison, a former Greenwood College student and the granddaughter of Ron and Patricia Newton who started Padbury Church, has been driving an ambitious program of events and activities for several years that encourage young people struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, bullying, self-harm or suicidal thoughts to talk
about their mental health.
These include annual awareness campaigns, school workshops, youth forums and mental health leadership camps.
She spoke passionately about the importance of people of all ages holding open and honest conversations about their mental health.
“Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians under the age of 44 – this is double the road toll,” she said.
“One in three Australians experience a mental health issue every single year and by the year 2020, depression will the leading form of disability globally.”
“Forty-seven per cent of the Australian population will experience a mental health problem at some stage in their life.”
She said zero2hero had identified two gaps in the mental health sector: stigma and education.
“Eighty per cent of suicides are men,” she said.
“Telling a young boy not to cry and to toughen up is directly contributing to this statistic and the people we are losing to this illness.
“One of my goals is that people start relating to mental illness as an illness just like any other illness.
“It’s time we as a society stop judging those with mental illness because if we don’t, and mental illness isn’t treated, it can and does lead to suicide.”
She reminded guests that anyone could “make a difference in another person’s life”.
“I studied business, not psychology, not education, and I make differences to people’s lives every day,” she said.
“You only need to be a human being to do that.
“If you are someone suffering in silence, speak up.
“It takes far more courage to ask for help than it does to sit in silence.
“Or if you’re someone that has noticed something isn’t quite right with someone you love, ask them.
“I promise, you will never regret asking someone but you may regret not.”
Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said Ms Harrison’s speech had been particularly relevant and engaging for the many school students attending the breakfast.
“Maintaining positive mental health is an issue every one of us must work on every day,” he said.
“According to beyondblue ok, there are currently 3 million Australians living with depression or anxiety.
“These include famous sportsmen and women, actors, musicians – people from all walks of life. Mental illness knows no barriers.
“For many people in times of need they turn to their faith, their church and their god.
“Churches are a vital source of social capital and contribute to our social wellbeing, dedicating themselves to making an active contribution to the local community and to helping others – particularly those who are at their lowest ebb.”
The morning also featured prayers delivered by various local church leaders, musical entertainment from the Prendiville Catholic College senior jazz band and $1973.25 was collected to donate to zero2hero.
Prayers on behalf of the community were delivered by Concordia Lutheran Church Pastor Milo Velebir, Reverand Lesley de Grussa from Beldon Uniting Church, North Coast Church – Joondalup Pastor Matt Malcolm and Lake Joondalup Baptist Church Pastor Stephen Nosworthy.
The Prendiville Catholic College senior jazz band provided musical entertainment and $1973.25 was collected to donate to zero2hero.
Joondalup mayor encourages more funding for mental health
AFTER hearing that suicide was the leading cause of death for Australians under the age of 44 and double the road toll, Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard had a message for members of parliament attending the Mayoral Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
“There’s a $130 million annual fund called a Road Trauma Trust Fund that is unspent every year,” he said.
“We’ve heard this morning the powerful statistic that the incidents of suicide – predominantly youth, predominantly males – far exceeds that of the road toll.
“Why don’t we just remove the word road from the Road Trauma Trust Fund and let’s have it as a trauma trust fund and start spending the money that sits in the Road Trauma Trust Fund on all trauma trust issues?
“I challenge you to re-shape the thinking in your parties on the Road Trauma Trust Fund and let’s call it the Trauma Trust Fund and let’s spend those dollars on those who need it.”
Joondalup to get day drop-in centre
THE City of Joondalup is establishing a day drop-in centre to help those in need.
Mayor Troy Pickard said at Thursday’s Mayoral Prayer Breakfast he had been working with churches including Lake Joondalup Baptist, Global Heart and True North and youth outreach organisations including Youth Futures WA and headspace on the proposal.
“Through the generous request, we’re about to secure funding to purchase a day drop-in centre in Joondalup,” he said.
“I had the last meeting a few days ago to sign off on the business case to go to government.
“An important element of the success of that drop-in centre is the community having a role and I think that’s ably led by the churches in our City.
“Next month, I will be gathering the church leaders of our City for a lunch to talk about how they can become involved in the Joondalup Day Drop-In Centre, both in provision of some volunteers but also through an annual request that can help to defray some of the cost associated with running such a centre_ where all stakeholders are providing wrap-around services.
“It’s a unique centre, the first in Western Australia, and I look forward to sharing some more in that light early in the new year.”