Lions Club of Whitford received 750 requests to help with suicide attempts, mental health and social issues

Terri and Philip Couper (Landsdale) with their daughter Brooke (17). Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au   d490409
Terri and Philip Couper (Landsdale) with their daughter Brooke (17). Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d490409

THE Lions Club of Whitford received 43 requests for help relating to suicide attempts last year, with the youngest case involving a seven-year-old child.

President Phil Couper said the club received 752 requests for help relating to suicide, mental health and other social issues in 2018.

MORE: Wanneroo and Communities Suicide Prevention Network starts Road to Recovery program 

Mr Couper’s motivation to help stems from personal experience in 2016 when his then 15-year-old daughter attempted suicide.

“My wife Terri and I thank God each day our daughter was not successful,” the Landsdale resident said.

“This caused our family to question why this occurred, especially as parents, we had no warning or knowledge of the serious and prolonged bullying our daughter was experiencing at the time.

“Not picking up those signs is probably the most distressing element – my wife and I were totally unaware of the problems.

“It was kept in secret the issues that were happening on a day by day basis, whether it be cyber bullying, whether it be trolls on the internet, people getting caught in situations where they are on social media.

“It left our daughter in a position where she thought that (suicide) was the only way out.”

Mr Couper, who plans to run for a Senate seat in the Federal Election this year, visited Tony Abbott in Sydney last month to raise awareness of the issue, and previously met with beyondblue chairwoman Julia Gillard.

beyondblue chairwoman Julia Gillard and Phil Couper.

“Within Australia, suicide is still the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44,” he said.

“It’s also estimated that for every suicide, 30 people attempt to end their lives, which equates to about 65,000 suicide attempts yearly.”

Mr Couper said the Lions club, assisted by police, helped find a man who attempted suicide while grieving the loss of his children and got him to hospital.

However, he said mental health resources in WA were stretched and beds and support were difficult to access.

“This is a common problem being reported by those not only seeking mental health services, but also those working within the industry, and the problem is only getting worse,” he said.

“Utilising the resources available within our club and our community partners, we were finally able to locate a bed for the gentleman concerned, which then allowed him to access the medical treatment and support he urgently needed.”

Mr Couper, a former state director of the Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation, said in 2018 the Whitford club also received 72 requests for help in mental health-related issues and 208 on alcohol and drug-related issues.

Another 163 requests related to cyber safety and cyber bullying and 187 related to bullying associated with school or university and stress that students were experiencing.

The club also received 79 requests regarding identity, sex, sexual health and sexual abuse.

“As a community, there’s so much work yet to be done, as the fact that someone feels so alone that they feel suicide is the only course of action is not only a confronting statistic, but one that urgently needs to change,” Mr Couper said.

“Our club and my family and I sincerely hope no other person, family or parent ever has to experience suicide, as the devastating effects it has not only on family but also on friends and loved ones is immense.

“Speaking to someone about your problems can often be the first steps to a solution.

“Help is always available, however, you need to first recognise you need help, and then seek it.

“It’s OK to not be OK, and I implore you to please reach out, ask and get the help you need.”

For more information, visit aldaf.org.au or the Tune In Not Out (TINO) website at tuneinnotout.com.

If you’re at risk or need help, support is available via Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Lifeline on 13 11 44 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.