NIKKI Peapall’s work in helping turn the tide on youth suicide has earned her recognition at the Make A Difference Awards.
The Caversham resident said suicide was the leading cause of death among young people aged between five and 24 in WA with 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 taking their own lives last year.
“In the past five years working for Youth Focus and Headspace Midland, there has been a steady increase and ongoing need for youth mental health services,” she said.
“Young people today face many pressures, including challenges with peers, social media, family, school, finances; we see many types of risk factors for young people, including risk of suicide.”
Ms Peapell said Youth Focus was focusing on improving access for young people at greater risk of suicide and mental illness.
“This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, LBTIQ, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and 18-plus males,” she said.
“I think we are starting to break down the stigma of mental health and reducing barriers to accessing support.”
Ms Peapell said she knew firsthand how devastating suicide was.
“I lost a cousin to suicide when I was a teenager, and the effects rippled through our family, school and community,” she said.
“He was engaged in school, sport and belonged to a loving family so his death came as a surprise.
“This highlighted the need for us to continue conversations about mental health and wellbeing, as well as making services, like headspace and Youth Focus, available to everyone in our community.
“We need early intervention models like Youth Focus and headspace, so teenagers have a confidential space to talk and receive supports for anything troubling them.”