DAWESVILLE resident Lowanna Hugall hosted the nation’s first round of Alternatives to Suicide group sessions in Mandurah last night to help struggling locals find non-clinical ways to deal with suicidal thoughts.
Alternatives to Suicide group coordinator and psychology student Ms Hugall said the 90-minute peer support sessions provided alternative suicide solutions, originally encouraged by the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Centre in the US.
“Two weeks ago, two women came from the Western Massachusetts Centre and told us since they started ten years ago, they had no one take their own life going to the groups,” she said.
“People have been known to walk out of these groups with so much relief.
“Rather than being clinically risk assessed, put in hospital and considered safe, these sessions are about realising you’re having suicidal thoughts and we’re going to get together and talk about it with other people.”
The 45-year-old said the peer run group would strategise how to deal with suicidal thoughts, without the feeling of collusion and judgement.
“We would listen deeply to these suicidal stories rather than fix anything or diagnose anything,” she said.
Ms Hugall said she would host the weekly group sessions but there was no power difference between her and the participants.
“It’s very much to do with personal stories and sharing my experiences with suicide, experience of life and how to deal with things,” she said.
“There’s no judgement – they don’t have to give their name it’s just a forum where you can feel free to talk.”
According to Ms Hugall, there will be no limit to the number of attendees or age groups.
“Anyone who’s suicidal, suffering from thoughts of suicide and is a suicide survivor can attend,” she said.
“A person who has had a family member or friend die of suicide, this group isn’t for them as we won’t have observers – it’s solely for someone who has or is going through it.”
The sessions will take place every Tuesday at 29-31 Sholl Street in Mandurah from 6pm to 7.30pm.
Attendees will be asked to make a gold coin donation.